In October we came in contact with Lauren, who walked the Rim to Rim in one day with a group of friends and she wanted to thank them and give them and herself a souvenir to remember this epic trip by. We were happy to support her and while we started chatting we were swept away by Lauren her enthusiasm and passion for hiking and the outdoors and we asked if she wanted to do an interview with us to share this passion and her experience with the community. And we are so excited that she agreed and we can now share it with you!
For those not familiar with this beautiful trail, just a little background information. The Rim to Rim Trail is a mesmerizing hike in the Grand Canyon with a length of 24 miles/ 38KM. Starting at the North Rim at the North Kaibab Trail the hike takes you through beautiful scenery, along Earth’s history, eleven layers of ancient rocks, to eventually reach the Colorado River! From there you can climb back to the top through either the South Kaibab trail or the Bright Angel Trail. This trail will immerse you in the beauty of the Grand Canyon while being off the beaten track. Typically, the trail is hiked as an overnighter over 2 or 3 days, while some, like Lauren, challenge themselves to the max to hike it in one day.
Before we dive into the interview, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Lauren for taking the time to do an interview with us. And we are so excited to share this first interview with all off you!
To start, would you be able to tell us a bit about yourself?
I would consider myself to be a novice hiker and outdoor enthusiast. I got into running in the past few years and along with that came a love for spending as much time outside as possible. I love traveling and seeing new places and I think the best way to experience new places is by venturing outside….taking a hike or a run in a new city or town. If I am not running or hiking, I love to be on the water somewhere…fishing, surfing, or boating.
How did your passion for hiking and the outdoors start?
From a young age, I always dreamt about seeing the Grand Canyon. I was born and raised in Washington D.C. and it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I took a trip to the South Rim. I did some short hikes along the rim but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to see and experience the canyon from the bottom and there are only a few ways to do so: by mule, by raft, or hiking. I decided the Rim to Rim hike would allow me to see the North and South parts of the canyon and challenge me physically, so I set out to train and plan my trip.
“I think the best way to experience new places is by venturing outside… taking a hike or a run in a new city or town”
When we first came in contact, you mentioned that you recently hiked the Rim to Rim which had been on your bucket list for a long time. And what an amazing achievement it is indeed! How was your experience on the trail? How long did the hike take you?
The hike took about 13 hours with a 1 hour lunch stop at Phantom Ranch. My group also stopped briefly to take pictures, refill water, and use the restrooms along the way. The R2R was an incredible experience and memories for a lifetime. We started at 4am down the North Kaibab Trail. The temperature was in the 30s and windy. When we reached the bottom at Phantom Ranch, the temperature was over 100 degrees!
You also mentioned that you did quite some research beforehand. Could you walk us through this process and how it has helped you on the trail?
I bought books, maps, and did a ton of internet research. I wanted to know what I was getting into by undertaking this hike in a day. The National Park Service has many warnings on the website and signs throughout the park that warn people about hiking into the canyon and back in a day. If I was going to take that calculated risk, I wanted to be adequately prepared physically and mentally for the challenge. I was already training for a marathon and 50K race in the fall, so I added hiking with a weighted vest to my workout schedule, along with additional strength training. I don’t live in an area with a lot of elevation but I did the best I could here and tried to get long (10+ mile hikes) under my belt during the heat of the summer. I did multiple hikes in Shenandoah National Park.
While COVID-19 brings about quite some challenges in everyday life, how did it influence your preparation for the hike? And were there any extra considerations you had to consider during the hike?
The North Rim and lodge is only accessible from approximately May 15th to October 15th every year so that is a short window weather wise to attempt the R2R. The summer months are very hot at the bottom so May and Sept/Oct are the best months. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of my first reservation at the Grand Canyon Lodge (North Rim). They shut down a lot of their lodging and only had a limited number of cabins available. I called and called and called until I was able to get a reservation at the end of September. I had mixed feelings about traveling and flying during the pandemic but ultimately decided to go for it.
“I added hiking with a weighted vest to my workout schedule, along with additional strength training”
Even though you had thorough preparations, did you come across any (major) challenges that you never would have thought about?
I was fortunate enough to have my father drive my support/logistics vehicle from the North Rim to the South Rim. I was able to leave the luggage that I didn’t want to carry in my day pack with him. He also met us at the South Rim with cold water and Gatorade. If I didn’t have a support person/vehicle, the hike would have been a lot more logistically challenging. There is no way to access the North Rim except by vehicle. There is a shuttle that goes from R2R but that was not what I felt like doing the day after the hike!
Before starting on the hike, you must have probably gone through your gear checklist a dozen times (yep, been there and done that). In the end did you take any gear with you that you eventually felt you could have done without? Or was there any specific gear that you wished you had with you on the trail?
I probably carried more than was needed but I would rather be overprepared than put myself in a situation where I needed help.
Gear I carried: trekking poles, daypack, headlamp, flashlight, 3 liters of water (2.0L in a Camelbak and another water bottle), salty snacks (trail mix, nuts, granola, pretzels), an extra pair of socks, a neck buff that I dipped in the cold creek along the way, a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, ankle gaiters, first aid kit. I can’t think of anything I wish I had because I probably had more than needed.
You have crossed the Rim to Rim of your bucket list… so what is next? Are there any other trails that are on your bucket list you plan on hiking in the (near) future?
Next on my bucket list is the Maryland Challenge – 41 miles of the Appalachian Trail in a day and Mt. Rainer.
Lastly, for all those out there who are inspired by your story and experience on the trail, what is the one tip you would like to give them?
Enjoy the moments and the surroundings. I put my phone in airplane mode so the battery didn’t drain. I took many pictures but none of them really did it justice so enjoy the day. The landscape changes with the sunrise and sunset and it’s stunning and cannot be captured with a camera.
Lauren, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us, it was an absolute pleasure!
Do you have an amazing story about one of your trail adventures you would like to share with the community? Please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org as we would love to hear from you.
Jay & Maud