“Hiking Down is Optional, Hiking up is Mandatory.” This sign, as well as others of a similar nature, were posted along the trails leading in and out of the Grand Canyon. However, four Sun Lakes Hiking Club members were not deterred as they trekked 18 miles and ascended 4800 feet of trails during a one-day hike down and up the canyon.
Mei-Mei Ahlskog, Brian Hill, Cheryl Verlander and Doug Chirhart trained for a year to meet this challenge and each of them believes they were well prepared. Their training consisted of completing two or three strenuous hikes each week and working out in the gym to increase cardiovascular capabilities and core strength. One of the hikers was especially challenged because of cancer surgery earlier in the year. Completing the hike at an average speed of 2.3 miles an hour proved that their hard work of training was invaluable.
In addition to the obvious ascents and descents on the trails, the hike also had mental highs and lows. Gorgeous scenery, especially watching the sunrise casting various color hues and shading across the canyon, camaraderie and solitude were cited as the highlights. The only low points mentioned were needing to rise at 4:00 a.m. and, for one hiker, experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion at the end of the day. Mei-Mei, the unofficial Sun Lakes Hiking Club Expedition leader, was extremely proud and happy that her cohorts completed and enjoyed this challenge.
The hikers celebrated at the Bright Angel Lodge with pub food and cold, very cold beers. The next day they reported feelings of exuberance with minimal muscle soreness. Congratulations to this hearty foursome.
Hiking tip of the month: When hiking on sand, be aware that it is a reflective surface and half of the sun’s rays can reflect onto your skin. Other things to keep in mind when you are hiking in the heat are: carry at least two quarts of water; drink often but remember to monitor your supply so you don’t run out; start early in the day; drive to a higher altitude where it may be cooler and trees might provide shade; be sure to wear sun screen, a wide brim hat and sun glasses.
The Sun Lakes Hiking Club will not officially meet again until the new hiking season begins in November. Mark November 6 on your calendar for the Welcome Back Picnic and first monthly meeting. For more information about the SLHC contact Brian Hill at 612-875-1946 or [email protected]; or visit the club’s website at http://meetup.com/Sun-Lakes-Hiking-Club.