Day 21: Emergency 911 - Aimless - CycleBlaze

July 2, 2013

Day 21: Emergency 911

It seemed simple enough, hike a few miles down the Kaibab Trail, hike back up, and then vegetate for the rest if the day.

For those not in the know, the Kaibab trail starts at the top of the rim of the Grand Canyon and down to the river. Some people will hike to the bottom and then up the other side to the South Rim of the canyon-- Rim to Rim.. The south rim is only 11 miles away from the North Rim, as the crow flies, but over 200 miles away by road.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, my hike...

So I hiked down, 2 miles, no prob, then sat and chatted with a family from Virginia for a spell. It was a good goal to hike to because it is one of the few places with water in that stretch of trail. The family had originally planned to go a half mile further, to a bridge below, but the heat and promised difficult hike up to the rim made them change their minds.

I had not planned to go much further, but did go a down a few hundred yards, or so, more to take a few pics. And it was there that it happened...

I came around a corner to find Wesley (about 11ish years old) and his dad, whose name i have since forgotten, sitting on a rock.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes. We just needed a break," said Dad. Except they didn't look too perky to me. "We are on our way up from Phantom Ranch." Phantom Ranch is at the bottom of the canyon and allows overnight stays.

"Do you have any water?" I asked.

"We ran out about a hour ago."

So I pulled a liter of water out of my pack. I felt fine, having only descended, plus there was water a little ways up at the overlook.

"Here, drink this," I said, pouring it into their bottles.

"No, I'm fine, thanks," said Wesley, whose hand was shaking when i handed him the water and who was clearly in over his head. Dad didn't immediately drink either.

"No," I said more forcefully. "You're going to drink this right now. All of it." Then I pulled out my second liter and refilled the bottles. They sat there looking excausted.

"Do you have food?" I asked

"Yes," said dad. "We ate earlier. We're fine."

Hmmm? I thought. "Well I'm hungry," I lied. "I'm going to have some of these Sugar Babies," I said. As I pulled out the candy I had been schlepping around since Moab. I ate 2 and split the rest up between them, which they ate.

Dad didn't seem as bad, but Wesley was clearly having issues with the heat, with telltale symptoms of confusion, shakiness, nausea, and, well, he looked like hell. I walked with them up to where the water was and stayed with them a while but it was clear Wesley was going nowhere. So I agreed to hike up and find a Ranger and gave dad strict instructions to say put. In reality they were lucky. They were in a perfect place, with water, shade, and people dribbling down now and then. As long as they didn't do something stupid and stayed put.

It was not an enjoyable hike up. I didn't stop much and went a bit faster than i would have normally. About half way up a park service employee came down. He was not a ranger but had a radio.

"I will check on him but if you see a Ranger tell him what happened," he said. So at least there was less reason to rush now.

I made it up and rode my bike over to the park back country headquarters.

"We sent a ranger down," a desk Ranger told me and started to walk away.

"Are they okay? What happened...?" I asked.

"That's all I know." He said and went back into his office. I was kind of pissed off. I mean, I did just spend most of my morning on this little escapade, and I feel like I got the brush off.

Another ranger saw what happened and was nicer, saying we don't really know yet but they usually try and get people up on their own steam. He thanked me for helping and said I could come back later for an update. At least he was nice.

I didn't go back. I am sure the pair made it out somehow.

Back in camp I ran into the campground hosts and we talked about the incident. It happens all the time, which is no surprise to me. Shoot, on the way up I saw dozens, with kids, people heading down to the 100 degree heat with little 12 ounce bottles of water.

"It costs $400 if they have to send a mule down to rescue you," they said. "We tell people until we are blue in the face to be prepared for these hikes, but people just don't listen. A few weeks ago a couple wanted to take their 4-year old on a Rim to Rim when it was 115 degrees in the canyon. The Rangers implored them not to. I never heard what happened, if they talked them out of it. But it just shows how a lot of people don't respect the canyon.

I agreed, having seen it before, and went back to my campsite for a rest.

Maybe its the comfortable lives that most people live that make them reluctant to prepare themselves and feel overconfident, I don't know? But it would be nice if people would listen to the Rangers, and read all the signs that are posted, and not screw with mother nature.

It was pretty hike though. Though that sand was the consistency of powdered sugar and a pain in the ass to walk in, especially with sandals.
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It sure was pretty though.
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The bridge I spoke of. They said it was only a half from the water stop but I, and the family from Virginia, thought it looked way farther.
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I could have used one of these on the way up
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Today's ride: 13 miles (21 km)
Total: 1,035 miles (1,666 km)

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