The 4 Miracles - Grand Canyon Adventure

It's taken me a while to write this post, I had several people ask me to write it in story format AND in its entirety and that took me some time. So I will mention beforehand this is the longest post I've ever written. But aside from the adventure, if you ever find yourself traveling to a desert destination I've included some additional information which may save your life or someone else!

I could have broken this up into 3 different posts. But decided not to do that to you. So here is the entire adventure start to finish!  If you don't have time now, I hope you'll come back and finish reading when you do. I've been told by others who I let read it in advance it's hard to put down and worth the read. :) If that statement is wrong blame them not me, LOL

As many of you know my friend Katie from over at From Ice Cream to Marathon and I had been training to hike the Grand Canyon R2R2R (Rim to Rim then back Rim to Rim.) 54+ Miles over a 2 day period was the plan, and what was trained for.

I'm no stranger to hiking or backpacking, I've done adventures like this many times in other area's, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and guessed what it would feel like, so I made sure I trained well and even over trained for what was needed so I could have a completely enjoyable experience!

I want to share this next part first before you read the rest, for one BIG reason. When you hear about the dangerous ordeal that happened to Katie you may think, what were they thinking? Or they must have been underprepared, or this wouldn't have happened if they trained better.
Before any of those thoughts hit your brain, let me tell you briefly what I did. My friend who hiked with me did her version of the same thing.

FYI: Backpacking is different than hiking. Hiking you only have to carry yourself and the water and snacks you want. Backpacking we had to carry all of our water, snacks, tent, sleeping bags along with a change of socks, clothes and other overnight items we would need. Backpacking if you don't know is much harder than only Rim to Rim hiking or running across the Grand Canyon.


* Hiking 2X's a  week. One short hike of 5-6 Miles - One long hike of 10-20 miles. I did this steady for 3 months.

* Heat training, I always hiked in the hottest part of the day, the last month leading it was always 90-100 degree's while I hiked.

* Backpacking, Trained 2 months with 20 pounds 2X's a week. Then 1 month out trained with 47 pounds. Doing a final 20-miler with the exact 34 pounds and pack like I wanted it packed as I would for the trip. (I trained heavier weight earlier so the lighter weight would be easier!)

* 3 Weeks leading into it I carried 47-pound pack 5 days a week for 1-2 hours.

* Additionally, I ran 3-4 times a week at 5-6 miles a day, always in the heat of the day.


Hydration doesn't mean starting to drink half one's body weight a week before the hike in the desert, in fact, that would have been completely useless and really wouldn't have hydrated us at all. All it would have done was send me to the bathroom very often.

Interesting fact: It takes 30-60 days to fully hydrate your body. Your kidneys and blood cells only absorb a small amount daily and you pee out all the rest. No matter how much you try to cram down, most of it flush's right through you, that's why it takes so long!
Most think because they are peeing clear they are fine, but unless you can go half a day without water and still pee near clear guarantee your not hydrated fully.

Both were athletes, and figuring we were already doing fairly well in hydration I began a 1-month full hydration plan before the hike. Gradually building up how much I was drinking over several weeks. This meant fewer bathroom trips and the most important actually allowed my body cells and kidneys to absorb the water and become fully hydrated.

Not doing proper hydration for hiking in 100+ degree desert heat is asking for trouble, which is why a full month long hydration plan along with a 10+ hour hike with full pack weight was a 100% requirements from myself and Katie before we began this fun adventure!

As you can see I did not go into this underprepared. Wisdom and preparation were taken as a precaution to avoid any problems!


We arrived on the North Rim and set up the tent and went out and explored some of the views checking out the canyon we'd be venturing into the next morning.
I can't tell you how excited I was, this is something I've wanted to do forever. I literally couldn't wait until morning.

DAY 2 - 4 AM

Our alarm went off and we began breaking camp. Our goal was to pack up and be out and on the trail by 4:30.


It apparently took us a little longer to get packed up, but we were off before sunset in the dawn hours. It would have been great to get a little more of a start, but 5 AM was still pretty good for what we were planning. As at this point, I estimated if we made good time we'd make it across in 12 hours if we slowed or had issues 15 hours.


Katie's pack strap on her left shoulder broke. Completely came unattached from the pack. We tied it down and thought for a bit on what to do as we walked down.
She was starting to get elevation sickness. I already anticipated this because she had it the night before. This is not uncommon, some people have trouble others don't, it even happens to people who live in higher elevations. The good news is, every step down we took I knew she'd feel better and better. The bad news, if we turned around and climbed back up it was going to be quite the hike for her and very sickly.


Her strap kept being bothersome, I noticed her bandana and we used that to tie it down and leveled out her straps so it was near perfect.
But I stopped right then and told her to think long and hard because I couldn't make this decision for her. I had no idea how it felt if it was terribly awkward or what. She needed to determine if we went on or turned around.

NOTE: Before we started this hike, we spoke on the phone about a month in and I made it very clear we will not put our lives in danger. The only thing that would ruin the adventure was doing something like that. So we both agreed we would make smart decisions based on our safety and not any desires or fears of ruining the others hike.  We both meant this! So if one wasn't comfortable or able, the other would no questions asked to go with what was best for the one struggling!

Katie determined she could handle it so we keep going down.


If I could go back to this moment about 2 1/2 miles down the trail I would have made an executive decision to turn around go buy a new pack for her and we would try the hike again the next day. But at that moment I had no idea what was going to come a few hours later, so in that moment it felt like it was okay to keep going.

SIDE NOTE: We got to experience and see a huge rock slide, a rock about the size of a house on the canyon wall across from us broke off and rolled down the mountain. It was pretty awesome to see and hear, especially since we weren't in its downward path!


Katies pack was really starting to bother her, due to the makeshift strap. So I offered a deal but told her I am good either way but it was up to her to decide.

OPTION 1 We could turn around.

OPTION 2 I carry most her water weight which would drop her pack down to around 16 pounds or less. Which is the weight of an easy daypack for hiking. I could take on more weight later if this became an issue she would just need to let me know.

After all, if it was only the weight of her pack holding her back I was more than happy to take on the extra weight rather than turn around. Because I knew I could carry more without problems because I trained at a heavier weight overall than she did.
But if it was any other reason it had to be her choice to make the decision.

She decided to pass on the weight to me, which we would do the exchange at mile 7.

8 AM - 7 MILES IN - Cottonwood Campground

THE PLAN - We brought enough water bladders to carry 2 gallons of water with us.
Because all but one of the backcountry springs were working we decided to only carry 5 liters for Katie and I carried 6 liters, and fill up at Cottonwood, Phantom Ranch, and Indian Creek, 3 Mile and 1 1/2 mile stops if we needed to.

We refilled our water bladders, I already had to take my first bathroom break which was a great sign I was drinking appropriately. We adjusted my pack to add on some of Katie's water.

FOR A LAUGH - Oh, and I discovered at the outhouse I started my period (Lovely, since I just had my last one a week ago and thought there was absolutely no reason to bring any items for it.) So yes, this girl had to old school it with TP....  I almost wanted to not mention that, but thought I'd give you all a laugh!

We had been hiking in the morning hours mostly in the shade, we made it down in about 3 hours which put us on schedule, so we were doing great at this point!

MILES 7-14

We attempted to take the Ribbon Falls side trail, but unfortunately, the bridge was out. Since it was only a side trip we decided to skip it, and maybe look into another route on our return trip.

Still, morning hours, the bottom of the canyon at this point was mostly flattened out with a downward slope as we still continued our way down to the Colorado River section. Absolutely stunning and gorgeous scenery, I could have spent a week down in there just enjoying it!
So many waterfalls, rivers. Everything was still spring green.
It was like an entirely different world than what you would expect or what you see from above.

We made it through The Box area early and avoided extreme temps, which normally can get pretty. I'd say we got through it between 95-100 degrees. I was expecting hotter, but because we were there earlier in the day we really lucked out!
Normally the temps would have been 105+ but because of the darker rocks and the desolate area it radiates the heat and can make it feel hotter more like 115. So yes, we totally completely lucked out!

NOON - MILE 14ish - Phantom Ranch

My first priority was to find a bathroom, had to pee again. Which let me tell you if you need to pee every few hours hiking in the desert you are doing well on hydration. If you are not needing to pee, you are dehydrated or getting there.

TIP: You may laugh, but anyone who understands hiking in the desert understands how much you're peeing and how often is a huge indicator of how you're doing and how you'll be doing later on.

I read online the restaurant at Phantom has amazing ice cold lemonade if they haven't run out. They hadn't and it was worth the few dollars for a big glass of it. We also took a resting break, drank our cold drinks hung out in the shade. In all, we took a 30-minute break from our hiking day at the ranch.

In case your wondering the ranch is right on the Colorado river, in fact, we could see where the rafts coming down from Lake Powell (Lee's Ferry) were getting out of the river. There are cabins and the Bright Angel Backcountry Campground. Additionally, this was a working water stop so we filled up for the rest next and hottest portion of our hike.


I've thought this over nearly a 100 times since the trip, I've been asked "what were you thinking" by several of my hiking friends and family members about not doing this next part right.

We left Phantom and Katie and I were talking, I knew my situation and I had been monitoring hers (without telling her outright) through most of the morning. I was slightly concerned she hadn't drunk as much as me but she seemed like she was okay and if she was fully hydrated getting into this she shouldn't have anything to worry about. Every time I asked her she said she was doing great or fine.

Huge regret on my part that I didn't pay better attention to her this part of the day!


We were talking and chatting and when we crossed the Colorado we were in a deeper sand walking in it off and on for a little over 1/4 a mile. I noticed Katie was getting slower, but I figured it was the sand just zapping some of her energy.

(I should have paid closer attention to her at this point, if I had we could have likely avoided what was soon to come next. Like I said I have thought about these next moments and miles over and over and I blame myself for not noticing what was happening to her earlier.)

What I didn't notice because I had her water on my back, as I would stop and we would both drink was how much she was drinking. We had talked about her drinking more at Phantom, but even then she was completely fine so there were no worry indicators then.
We were in the early afternoon hours now, it was 105 degree's, we should have both been drinking 20 sips each stop which at that point I was stopping every .25 miles based on our pace and what I already knew we needed in my previous training.
When I did question it at one point she told me she had only been drinking 1-2 sips. While she had likely only been doing this a short time, it was during the hottest part of the day.

TIP: This is a big mistake I made. If you are hiking with someone who is not acclimated to the desert and not used to desert hiking and desert drinking it is SOOOO important that you watch them drink, count their swallows if you have to, even if you don't tell them you are doing it.
A lot of people (yes many) who are not used to the desert think because they are not sweating don't realize the sweat is evaporating as fast as it comes out and they should be drinking double what they are. When you're not drinking, even if you're not dehydrated you can get heat exhaustion or worse. Additionally, it is very common for someone not acclimated to the heat for their mind to not want to drink or not think they need to drink. Watch people you hike with close if this happens if you do and catch it you could save their life or lots of troubles.


About 2 miles further I had been noticing her really start to slow her pace. I did not mind the slow pace, I was planning to go her pace the entire way when the heat came on, that was why I trained for anything. We cooled off in a stream at one point, it's always good to take advantage of places to cool off when you have zero shade!

Shortly after this cool of break, I noticed her taking very frequent breaks. I asked her if she was okay if she was drinking and eating correctly, she said she was but I could see she was getting very hot.

Katie had been eating correctly but I was worried she might need more sodium for the day, so we broke out her beef jerky so she could eat some of that while we hiked.
She had just finished and I put her jerky back in her pack, and we had been chatting about grabbing ice cold Pepsi's right when we finished that evening/night before we did anything else or made camp for the night.

I could feel a few little hot spots on my feet, but I wasn't worried about them. Nothing I should do at this point and they only bothered me on the downhill. We were on a slow incline from mile 14 to 17 so I hardly noticed them and at this point didn't think they'd bother me since next was 5,500 feet of inclines.


This is the part I actually wrote in my journal shortly after we returned, and I am going to tell it to you exactly how it all happened.
Mostly because if you ever find yourself in a similar situation some of this information and details could save yours or someone else life.

Right after our conversation about Pepsi, I noticed I couldn't hear her anymore. I turned around and it took a few moments too long before I saw her come around the corner bend behind me. I had no idea I was that far ahead we had literally just been talking a minute or so ago.

I could tell right then by looking at her face she was hot. We were near ZERO shade, and my mind was already thinking the next patch we find, we need to take a bit of a break.

What I didn't realize is how quickly she was going to go from looking a little tired to what happened next.
She wasn't looking good, I asked her how much she was drinking (as I couldn't see it was on my back) this was when she told me she had only been taking 1-2 sips each time we stopped.


Alarms were going off in my head, I knew her situation was bad, but at least she was up and communicating. I told her to begin sipping on her water, not too much but sips to see if she could start getting hydrated a bit more again.

TIP: I never should have let her walk behind me. Biggest mistake of the entire trip was letting her push me in front of her. Especially during the heat of the day! I'll never forgive myself for this, seriously how dumb can I be, I knew better than this!
If I had been walking behind her, I would have caught this SOOOO much earlier and possibly prevented it and her life may not have become in risk.

I walked closer to her and she stopped, I turned and said are you okay?
She didn't act like herself and said her pack was bugging her.
I looked and she had untied the strap.

(It is very common when people begin heat exhaustion they do odd things like this.)

I lifted her pack while she tied the strap back. But when I looked she hadn't done it. I said let's try this again. Again, she couldn't tie it.


I knew right at this moment our hike was over for the day! But we were in the middle of nowhere, it was 105+ out with rocks baking us possibly hotter and I had to get her to shade as soon as possible!

It took 4 tries and finally she was able to get the knot tied on her pack.

I walked right behind her and told her to slowly walk and let's go find shade. But her first few steps told me everything about her situation.

TIP: If you've ever seen anyone in heat exhaustion one of the early symptoms is how they are walking. To describe it, imagine a 1-year-old learning to walk, the shaky legs, the wobble the not knowing to bend the knees. This is what it looked like.
Immediately, I stopped her and had her sit on a rock we were next to.

I knew she needed shade like 10 minutes ago she wasn't looking good, but we were out in the middle of nowhere and hadn't seen anyone in about a mile.

I knew I couldn't leave her, but I needed to find her shade fast. I knew we had a creek a 1/2 mile behind us, and no idea what was ahead. In hopes I could find shade, I told her I would be right back. Even though I was pretty sure she wasn't/couldn't really listen.

I had to keep her in my line of sight, and it was an emergency I needed to find shade QUICK and get her cooled off as soon as possible.
Right as I rounded a corner I saw it ahead, I cliff wall that the sun had left a good 3-foot patch of shade, I was pretty happy to see it shade at this point I can't even tell you!

I quickly walked back to her and I knew I couldn't carry her, but I had to get her there whatever it took.  I told her about the shade and told her we were going to walk very slowly and I would be behind her to push her up the hill and hold her up as needed.

She took off at a near run, but on wobbly legs. I grabbed her trying to get her to focus even though I knew her mind was not all there at that moment.

Eventually, we made it to the shade, it was the longest about 200 meters I have ever had to walk and my mind was working about 90 miles an hour trying to decide what would be the best way to cool her off when we got into the shade.


At first, she wouldn't sit, (and this is very common that when people get overheated they get a little defensive) it took me almost 2 minutes to get her to sit. Meanwhile, I got her pack off her and started getting into her water to start cooling her down.

Once she agreed to sit, within about 30 seconds started to become slightly more alert. I was seriously hopeful we got there in time. She kept wanting to keep going, I told her no we are done hiking for the day, and we would spend the night here if we needed too. I told her we just needed to get her cooled off. Fanning her, and dripping water on her and letting her take a few sips every few minutes was the only plan of attack for her heat exhaustion that I had at this point and I was just praying it would work.

Her situation wasn't dire at this point but I was seriously worried. Her temperature, though I couldn't tell exactly was likely around 102+ at this point. I took her heart rate it was around 92, a little high but not too bad for now. If she kept getting better then everything would be fine.


Shortly after she sat, a small group came up and asked if we were having trouble. I said yes, my friend is over-heated. The group kept walking, but the guy on their tail end handed me his sweat/cool rag to put on her since it was still wet from the creek 1/2 mile back.
I took it and thanked him. He was already walking away from me. (You may think it was rude they kept walking, but Katie was over-heated but somewhat alert at this point and not a lot of people know what to do when they see trouble.)

I yelled up at them if they would confirm if it was a little over 3 miles to the next Ranger station. They thought that sounded about right, I asked them when they got there if they would send a Ranger down to us. They agreed and went on. Now the only reason I asked them to do this was because I knew we were going to be there for the night (or so I thought) and if things got worse at least eventually they could get word we needed help.


I dumped half a packet of electrolytes down her throat, made her drink it down. Then poured the other half of the packet down her throat. I didn't think it would help much, but even if it did a little it would be worth it.

At first, Katie started to respond to the cool rag and recent electrolytes. I honestly thought maybe we could get her through this and out of the danger zone completely. But not 2 minutes later she took a turn for the worse.

There was nearly no warning!

She was beginning to forget things and having very delayed answers. I could see no matter how much I was working hard at cooling her off her body was now deciding not to respond to any assistance.

About 15-20 minutes had passed at this point from when I first had brought her to the shade. At this point, I felt she wasn't going to get much better and I was worried about what was going to happen if she got even worse. Because that group I spoke of before, was a good 10 minutes up the trail now, way out of my voice range and no one else was in sight.

I knew right in these moments Katie needed more help than I could give her and she needed it fast!!!
Insert prayer time!
No cell phone coverage, we were deep down in a canyon, miles from any form of help. While in the shade it was still hot, likely still 100 even in the shade.

But I also knew I couldn't leave Katie alone. If she came too and wandered off she could fall off a cliff or go somewhere I would never find her. When people's minds are gone in heat exhaustion, they could really do anything. Plus, someone needed to be there to help even in 100-degree shade attempt to keep her as cool as possible, waiting for the group ahead to hike what could take them a couple hours climbing uphill for 3 miles was not an option.

To say I was worried about the situation and how Katie was responding was an understatement!

MIRACLE #1 - Two Angels

Two girls from India stopped to see if they could help. At first, they offered her grapes, and I fed her a few but I didn't think any nourishment was going to help at this point she needed to get cooled off fast. Luckily they stopped to take a seat in the shade for a moment and watch me help Katie.

I could tell they were worried but unsure what they could do at this point.
I told them I think it was the time I run for help and I needed someone to watch her and I needed them to do exactly what I asked and told them.

Before I finished this brief conversation with the girls, major danger happened.

All of a sudden Katies entire body especially her hands started shaking (she was going into shock, or I should say was in shock.) Her arms went paste white, and her hands bright red.
I'll never forget the look on her face I don't think I have even told her this. But her face and features were starting to look sunken in, her face was dried out almost started to look like paper. Her lips were crust and you could just see the dehydrated look on them.

Her body was shutting down.

In my Emergency Training Course, I took I knew Shock is what kills most people, so to tell you I was worried is an understatement. She went from bad to worse in less than a few minutes.

Her mind immediately went from some response to ZERO response. I had been asking her questions earlier which she took a moment to answer but could get the questions right. But now she didn't know the answers, her face had this terribly confused look.
Not only could she not respond to who I was, but she couldn't remember who she was married to, where she was from and didn't even know her name.

Eventually, and this all happened in a matter of moments. Her mind gave up on its ability to answer. She had every classic symptom of late state heat exhaustion and possible dehydration.

This is when she passed out the first time. Luckily she rolled backward and the rock behind her was propping her a little.
I may have slapped her a little (I did admit this to her later) I needed to get her to come to.

She needed emergency help, and I needed to get help fast!!!!

Finally, she came too and her mind was so far gone, I took her pulse and it was racing it was around 125 bpm at this point. Her temperature while I couldn't say for exact had also increased dramatically, she was burning up. Her body was shutting down and things were getting life-threatening at this point.

I was explaining to the girls what to do, as Katie passed out a second time, this time going to fall over. One of the girls jumped up to help and then the other.
I suggested we set her on the ground, I knew I needed to treat her for shock before I left for help so she would have a chance to survive, so getting her on the ground now was as good of time as any.

The two sweet girls helped me lay her out, I put Katie's legs up on the rock she had been sitting on, and took her hands and crossed them over her heart.
She was shaking so badly by now when we got her to come to this second time.

I know all of that sounds like a lot, but all of that happened in maybe 2-3 minutes max.

I told the girls I had no more time to waste I had to run for help now.

My mind had already calculated it was going to take me too long to run uphill to the Ranger Cabin station 3+ miles uphill in this heat.
But I had remembered when we passed the very first creek a couple of miles back there was a Rest Station up on hill shortly off the trail and I remembered seeing an emergency phone sign when we passed it on our way earlier. (Thank goodness I was observing things earlier to see it!!!)

I decided I could run downhill faster and that phone (prayed would be working) would be the best option.

I quickly dropped a bit of my pack weight onto the ground by the girls. The entire time begging the girls not to leave her no matter what happens, and to keep her legs and arms up. (If you don't know keeping legs and arms above the heart can help a person resist or come out of shock.)
They kept promising me they wouldn't leave her and would do their best to keep her cool as possible and they asked me to hurry probably because they knew once I left it was up to them to keep her alive.

The reason, Katie didn't look like she had much time if any left. I hate saying that, but I've never been so worried for someone else life ever in my life. She honestly as terrible as it sounds looked near death.


Remember all that training I did beforehand? Well, it was a good thing I did it all because at 17 miles in on an already long day on my feet it was a good thing I was in such excellent shape. My body hadn't even gotten a little tired at this point so thankfully I had the energy I needed for what came next.

Also, the advanced preparation I had studied maps. I knew exactly where we were, exactly how many miles from nearly any location in any direction.

Pack weight dropped, kept my water on me I took off in a run and prayed the entire way down.

MIRACLE #2 - Speed

Remember those hot spots I told you about that bothered me when I was going downhill? Well in these moments I didn't even feel them.
Eventually, when I got to the different creek/river passings, there were 3 of them I determined I didn't have extra seconds to spare to slow and avoid getting wet. So I just ran through each one of them.

I saw a few groups as I passed one even asked me if there was a problem, I said yes but didn't bother saying anything more, I knew I didn't have much time to spare.

I made it down that mountain in about 28 minutes, I know this because a few minutes later I was on the phone with Canyon Emergency and several minutes later when they asked for more information and wanted to know how long it had been and I checked my time it showed exactly 35 minutes had passed since and I knew I had run down the mountain in a faster time than I could have imagined.

You're probably thinking running 28 minutes for about 2 1/2 miles is easy.

But you have to remember I had rocky terrain to deal with, it wasn't all downhill and three water crossings, technically four because I had to cross one twice to get up the hill to the station. On a regular street sure I could have run a little over 2 miles in faster time. But being able to do that in this terrain, in this heat that was nothing short of a miracle!

I was passed around to three individuals during this call. First, the gal who answered who took my information and location briefly.
Luckily, I knew exactly where I left her, exactly what part of the canyon to tell the emergency responders where she was.

MIRACLE #3 - Help Close By

They transferred me to the Rangers who told me they had a female ranger, they gave me her name and info and said she was hiking a little over a mile above where I left Katie and she received their message on the walkie talkie and had already turned around.

Next, this ranger who was on her way to my friend was carrying an IV, a miracle I tell ya!

The third emergency responder I spoke to wanted all of Katies details, from height, weight. What she ate that day and how much she had drank and how many times she had peed that day and a bunch of other details. Due to a previous conversation the day before I knew her height and weight, LOL I also had been carrying most her water so I knew exactly how much minus what was in her pack at that moment that she had drank to the ounce.

I told them all of her symptoms, exactly how she was as I left her. I also explained what I felt was wrong (though I'm sure they'd determine that when they arrived.)

I am so thankful I handle stress well, I was able to give them every bit of information perfectly calmly. I only mention this because I thought it was funny they told me after how accurate and calm I was and thanked me for being this way.

I felt like I was on the phone forever, it was probably about 10 minutes total.
Although the ranger was sent her way only a minute or two after I got on the original call.

They thanked me for the info and told me to get back to my friend as fast as I could, but help beat me to her.

I was grateful for knowing that because I had 2 miles of mostly only uphill to run back.

I won't lie, I wasn't able to run the entire time. It was too hot in the day, and remember those hot spots that didn't bother me coming down thanks to the miracle?

Well, they weren't hot spots anymore. All those water crossings, my feet were ruined and so blistered I could feel literally every step now. Guess now that Katie had help coming, I no longer needed my feet miraculously protected, LOL

I do have a very good fast steady uphill hiking pace, so most of it I did as that, and a little jog when I could. I did the best I could do, I couldn't put my own life at risk that would be the dumbest thing I could do, and that is literally rule #1 in helping someone else, make sure you help and keep yourself safe first. (Yes, I listened in the EMT class, LOL)

Also, I still kept a silent prayer in my heart and kept praying over and over as I hiked back to her.


Going uphill for a few miles took a while, truthfully speaking closer to an hour and a half has passed since I was on the phone. And about 2 hours had passed since I had originally left Katie.

Then I saw it up ahead, the first rock I left Katie on when I went ahead to look for shade before anything worse had happened.  I knew she was about 200 meters around that corner.

Now I handle stress and emergencies very calmly, it's always been sort of I guess you could call a talent, and I am glad I have it.
But when I saw that rock, I knew one or two things were going to happen when I came around the corner.

I knew help had reached her long before I arrived, likely 30-40 minutes before I got there. But I was either going to see her a bit better, or worse, and I don't even want to tell you what worse meant but I think you can imagine!

I know you're thinking why did you think those thoughts, but if you saw her when I left her I guarantee you would think the same. I promise it was not morbid thinking, just factual thinking.

I rounded the corner and remember taking a deep breath as I looked up.

Katie was sitting up and even from a distance appeared she was holding herself up.
She was surrounded by the Ranger and the sweet two Indian girls.

I can't tell you the relief I felt in that moment!!!

As I approached I remember the ranger telling Katie, I bet that is your friend who went for help. Katie looked at me with the most confused look in the world, she had absolutely no idea who I was. I just laughed, and told the ranger it's okay she will remember me eventually, LOL

The ranger filled me in on the details (briefly) and told me that she was positive Katie couldn't hike out of this canyon on her own, even if she spent the night. She said they'd given her an IV, which I could see was over half gone at this point and she said she needed better medical attention.

(Katie later told me a nurse came up on the trail and also administered an IV that she had in her pack. I won't talk about this part because I didn't see it to know the details. But that is just incredible!)

The ranger was able to get her more alert, but Katie was still overheated and had trouble responding, she needed to get out of the canyon and most importantly get cooled off. I agreed, and we discussed the options.

The ranger then called in a Life Flight Helicopter. They weren't sure if they could land where we were and told her it would take a bit of studying before they would get there.

Meanwhile, we were instructed to see if Katie could get up and walk at all. The ranger knowing the Indian girls had just spent several hours helping someone and still needed to hike out of the canyon that night. Verified they had headlamps. While it was still sunny now, it would take them 7-8 hours to get up and out and it would be well past dark then.

One of the Indian girls had used up all of her water to wet Katie down (bless her heart) to help keep her alive and cool while I was getting help and while help was coming. (True Angels I tell you, they are hero's in my eye!)

The other had 3 liters of water left. The ranger wouldn't let me give her any of my water, I had used up quite a bit running down and back and was left with only 3 liters myself and I still had to climb out on my own that evening.

So the Ranger gave the girls all of her water and sent them on their way so they wouldn't be any later getting out then they had to be.

Myself and the Ranger each grabbed one side of Katie and we lifted her up. She struggled to stand and couldn't hold herself up on her own.  It took a couple of minutes and we attempted a few steps. We were trying to get some of the lactic acids that had built up while she was laying down to subside so she could walk. We tried for a few minutes, but she was in no condition so we sat her down.

The ranger told me we may have to carry her down the canyon to the bottom if the helicopter couldn't figure out a way to land. Or carry her to where they could land.

I won't lie, I'd love to say my mind was thinking sure okay let's do this. But I was 19.5 miles in on my legs that day, that run in the heat took a lot out of me and while my legs could handle it, my feet were so blistered. So yes I cringed at the first thought of having to do this.
But I knew I would do whatever it takes, we get stronger when we need it so I figured I'd pray for it and I knew it would come if needed.

MIRACLE #4 - Life Flight Landing

We sat there casually chatting and eventually Katie remembered who I was, I think it wasn't long after she finished the entire 2nd IV pack.
I felt a little bad we were talking in front of her about her, but it is what it is and I figured she probably wouldn't remember any of it anyway so I felt less bad about it, LOL

Katie was one of the sweetest people coming out of it all. She was so worried she ruined the trip, LOL I was thinking, are you kidding me... The only thing that would have ruined the trip is you not making it. Your safe now, and the trip is fine.

She kept repeating, but you won't get to finish... I laughed and the Ranger laughed. The Ranger and I both told her many times not to worry I still get to finish the hike, this helicopter ride is a special ticket just for her.
It was sweet she was so worried, but she didn't need to be! The trip may not be going as planned, but it was going far better than it almost could have and that's all that mattered!!!

The Ranger wanted me to look in her pack and figure in the water I wasn't sure of that she drank, little details mean a lot to the rescue teams when they arrive. So I did. When I opened it and counted in my mind the sips I gave her and (poor Indian girls didn't realize she had water in there to use to cool her off and they used her own instead.) we realized she drank less than 1 liter of water during those last two miles of the trek.

I felt so bad, and even when the ranger didn't put the blame on me, I could tell she knew I knew better and should have forced her to drink more. No Katie didn't have dehydration to any extreme, but even just a little can put a person into heat exhaustion in temps like we were in.
The Ranger was too kind to blame me, but trust me I'd done enough for the both of us. Between prayers, I was just so mad at myself for not taking better care of my friend out there!

I know that sounds weird, we are both grown women. But the fact is I knew what we were getting into and she may not have fully. I knew what she should be drinking and didn't do anything to force more on her earlier in the day when I should have. I could go one and on but there is no point. I will say, I will NEVER let that happen to anyone I am with again!!!

Okay, sorry I side tracked! Let's get back to the final miracle I witnessed that day.

We are in a boxed in a canyon, it's steep on both sides, there is virtually no way a helicopter could get in without major risk. Not only that, there wasn't exactly anywhere big enough to land.

But Katie although she was responding better and not as close to heatstroke as she was before, she was in no condition to walk and doing so would have put her into heatstroke within minutes. She needed air-lifted out or carried out it was the only way.

That helicopter pilot did something amazing that not even he was sure he could pull off. (I saw this because he said this to me and the Ranger shortly after he landed.)
He found this small patch on a hill, basically a rock and landed on it.
Watching him come in. Even the ranger grabbed me and said this is going to be amazing watch this...

And it was, amazing and miraculous! I'm no pilot, but even I could tell that was some of the fanciest flying I've ever seen, not to mention the landing.
Half the helicopter was hanging in mid air, he had just enough to get the weight in the front on the rock side leaving the rest hanging. As you can kind of see in the picture.

(The pic above, right in that small rock patch in the bottom is where the helicopter landed.)

Three EMT's arrived and one very cute one (I can't help it, it's the single girl in me) immediately took Katie's vitals. They sent me to get her stuff together and I didn't hear.
But since her temperature was 104 when she was at the hospital/clinic I'm guessing she was closer to 105-106 when they took it. I'm not kidding you when I say she was overheated.

They asked her a lot of questions, I answered the ones she didn't know or forgot the answers too. LOL


I keep saying this but I have so many, but one major one was before we started on this we didn't exchange emergency contact information. I had no way to get ahold of her husband. That was a dumb thing we didn't do, but thankfully we walked away from this with a few good lessons learned.

Back to her lift out.

The Ranger asked me to watch for any strong men that come along so they can help carry her to the chopper. It wasn't too far away, but far enough and the Ranger knew I was getting tired.

The EMT's were getting the ride ready, they have to take her weight and the pack and everything into account. They didn't exactly land in the ideal location so they needed to be properly weighted going back.

I told Katie (Not sure if she remembers) to enjoy the flight and look out the windows because she's getting a flight that many people have to pay a lot of money for.  The emergency personnel and pilot just laughed at that.

FYI: Thankfully this evacuation wasn't going to cost her the $30k I thought it might. Apparently, because I called on a Park emergency phone it was park emergency that arrived and they do evacuations and rescue's free.  The Ranger told me if I had called on my cell phone 911 (Which I couldn't because no service) then normal rescue would have come. But Katie lucked out in more than one way, I didn't get her help that was going to cost her a mortgage too, LOL  How is that for lucky!!


Once Katie left I had to wait for the Ranger to finish with something before I could start on.

The Ranger offered me an option when she came back to me, she said if I wanted she would give me permission to camp in the Indian Creek backcountry campground for the night and I could do the rest in the morning.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at this point, I knew my feet were so blistered everything was going to hurt.
Several hours had passed at this point, in fact, it was well into the evening by now.  The Ranger told me she needed to hike down to the creek to get water for herself and she would meet me at the campground and talk to me.

Well she hikes super fast, and she passed me half way up LOL I'll use the I was 22 miles into hiking for the day and tired as an excuse for having her pass me LOL


She stopped me to get Katie's cell phone number and told me she was going to let her stay at her apartment that night after they released her. Isn't that beyond sweet?
I was blown away by this Ranger's generosity!!  She offered that I could also go there, or I could stay at Indian Creek. After a little over a mile of climbing and the sun fading. I knew I could make it out, but the night in the canyon sounded too tempting.

Besides, Canyon camping spots are on a lottery and very difficult to obtain to most impossible to obtain. Being offered this chance I'd kinda be dumb to not take it. But a lot was going to depend on how Katie was doing when I got to Indian Creek.

Ranger told me she'd get the info to her and find out if/when Katie would be released and we'd catch up at the campground.

Truth, my feet were killing me and I swear felt worse by each step. Wet feet getting blisters earlier not a good mix. I was dreading having to take them off and discover the damage.

But oh it was beautiful, the sun was setting in the canyon. I saw 3 people in total on the trail so I was pretty much alone just me, lots and lots of deer, buzzing bugs and lots and lots of frogs.

When I got up the first big climb of 2 miles and about 1,800 feet of climbing it leveled out a little and was more of a gradual uphill. It was gorgeous and green as I approached a few waterfalls and lush greens along the river I was in my own kind of backcountry heaven.

Yes, I was still worried about Katie. But I knew she was in good hands so I did take the time to enjoy the surroundings and the incredible scenery I was passing.  I realized I hadn't taken many photo's earlier in the day, and it was the right time at night so I did take extra time to snap some shots.

Gonna be honest though my legs and lungs felt strong despite a long day, I was pretty impressed with myself, if I am going to admit it, which I just did, LOL


Shortly before I got to the campground I had to cross the river and there was absolutely no way not to get wet. I figured at this point what would it matter.
OMG OMG I cannot express the pain.
Those blisters well I would later find out the ones on the bottom of my feet opened up and the skin as I climbed those last 3 miles rubbed off more. So it was super raw and when that fresh water hit it I literally did everything I could from not screaming out loud in pain.

I'd of hate to scare the deer by screaming.  I hurried across the river and when I got out I just stood their deep breaths and probably looked like I was giving birth, no joke that hurt like...
Once the pain subsided I kept going but hoped beyond hoped I would not find any more water.

I did, but thankfully I found ways to cross it without getting wet.

Finally, I arrived at the campground, walking through I couldn't find a spot, it seemed to be pretty full with tenters.
I was about to give up and the Ranger came down on the trail, she was just out looking for me. We turned around and she took me to the spot she had saved for me, how nice is that!


She let me know Katie was released and doing better, she just needed to stay out of the sun for several days. I already knew we weren't going to be making the return trip, I think the Ranger just wanted me to confirm to her that I agreed I wouldn't take her across again, but stay with her. She told me we may be able to get on the shuttle if we called in the morning. Told me where I could hike to in the morning to get a texting signal to get a message to Katie.

She was so sweet, see Katie and I had planned to eat dinner when we climbed out of the canyon that night. Since I decided I was staying I had nothing but beef jerky. Which would have been fine, but the Ranger was so funny she was like "If you help save someone's life here, you get a hot meal" she started listing off all of the things she could make me up at the Ranger cabin and bring back.
I settled on Mac and Cheese, that sounded yummy LOL

I put my tent up, blew up my air mattress (yes I did carry a pool size one as a comfort item LOL) got myself all situated.
Stared down at my feet that I literally didn't even want to stand up on again until morning, determining if I even wanted to take my boots off.
The Ranger showed up with my Mac and Cheese and a pile of other snacks.  We sat and had a chat. She told me the condition Katie was in when she arrived and said she was near Heatstroke and minutes from death if help hadn't arrived when it did.

I told her I had left her in not much better shape, we both agreed the two girls being willing to stay with her and do whatever they could to keep her cool helped her from tipping past the point of no return, those angels!!!
The Ranger is a wonderful person, we sat and chat while I forced the food down me. (I wasn't as hungry as I thought, at least my system didn't want to eat. But I forced it I didn't want to offend her since she hiked half a mile round trip to get me this hot meal.) Like I said, she is a sweetheart and an amazing person!
After chatting a while and the sun was pretty much down she left.

The ladies in the camp next to me came over and said they heard I was without food for the morning (the sweet ranger lady) and offered me anything I wanted as they had brought more than what they needed with them. I took a few things and thanked them. They were from Iowa and hiking out in the morning too. We chatted for a bit and I was kinda glad they didn't stay long.

I finished up and even though I had to use the bathroom really bad, I didn't want to walk 1/4 mile back down the trail to get to the outhouse.
So I went in my tent and decided to finally look at the foot damage.

It was dark but they were bad and still raw and wet from the most recent creek. So I decided to heck with it, I'd deal with them in the morning and I went to sleep staring up at a beautiful clear sky, half moon and beautiful red cliffs surrounding me.


I woke in the night, I should have peed earlier LOL. I'm only telling you this part for a laugh. I went to get out of my tent and a Rattlesnake was taking his sweet time passing right in front of my door. I was seriously whispering to the thing to hurry up, I had to pee.
Now I'm not proud, but it was dark and my feet well I won't even tell you how much they hated standing up to get out the tent door. But yes, I just figured no one could see me or was awake around and even if they could I didn't care so I just watered the bush a few feet away from the tent LOL

I slept so good that night and thought I'd wake up hearing the other campers packing up. But I didn't, I slept in until almost 8 AM.
I finally only then dealt with the blister damage.
I brought lots of moleskin and got to work exactly how my medic dad showed me. It took me nearly 30 minutes to patch them up, oh they were bad. It wasn't the best job, but it would have to do.


One plus side, yes my feet hurt like crazy. But the rest of me, not even sore! I know, I couldn't believe it myself. There is a lot of truth behind when I say I trained my butt off on harder trails than the Grand Canyon would give me to get ready for this and it clearly paid off in more ways than one.

They told me it was only 5 more miles to get back up. But I think stopping at the rest houses and having to step off the trail for the mules and horses to pass those little things add up so my tracker actually said 6.5 when I got back.

My feet made it hard to go too fast, so I just picked a steady pace that I could control where I stepped so I didn't pop more blisters or create new ones with my only so so, patch job.

I didn't get on the trail until 9 AM and text my parents and Katie at the point I was told. I wasn't sure if it would go through but waited until it said they all sent.
One text came through from my dad the night before wondering how it all went, I thought better text now and say I was fine and I'll call him in a few hours and explain.
I asked Katie to see if she could get us on the shuttle to the north rim the next day.
Then I was off and going up.

I believe the Bright Angel Trail has a 5,500+ foot elevation gain.
It wasn't too bad, in fact, only a few points were steeper than I had trained on. But it was getting hot in the day (since I slept in LOL) so yeah I figured why rush it.
Although, at a few points I kept looking up at the top seeing the finish and swearing it was never getting closer.

I met a lot of awesome people on the trail.
Saw a lot of idiots, some with families. I say, idiots, because when you see people heading down in 100 degree's with absolutely no water or only a small water bottle in their had. Well yeah, their idiots!
Lot's of Rangers on this section of the trail stopping hikers that looked to not be doing well to talk to them, or remind them they don't have enough water to get up.

See it's soooo easy to go downhill, and yeah the unsmart would even say they didn't need as much water going downhill. But what goes down must come up, and coming up in this heat is no joke and takes double or longer the time it took to go down.
Let's just say I shook my head at a lot of idiots.... But I also met some pretty awesome people some doing what I had just done, others earlier on in the climb on their way across the other way.

I love to people watch so it was great!

Finally, I reached the top and I sat my butt down and admired where I just came up and across. It was quite the awesome experience. I loved every minute of it and have zero regrets for doing it.
Sure I would change the way to paid attention to my friend who was with me, but it was a valuable lesson learned for both of us.

I learned:
* I'll never hike without those crush ice bags (at least 2) in the desert again.
* If hiking with someone not used to the heat, I will always follow behind and I will count their sips and drinks.

I know this story was very long. But if you actually took the time to read it, what happened and the details around it could help you save someone else life or avoid having this happen to you.

Heat Exhaustion can happen to anyone! 
You can be the fittest or in shape person or the least or someone in-between.

It happens when you get too hot, and your body produces more heat than it can release through sweat. It's not necessarily because you get dehydrated or you didn't eat enough foods with salts, carbs and proteins.

TIP: Heat Exhaustion is preventable, but you have to not only prepare in advance, but be aware of your body and what is going on with it. Here is a short list of what you can do if you ever go to the desert to avoid it. (I took it straight from my med book.)

* Wear light and loose clothing - More you cover your body and keep hidden from the sun the better, light pants, even long sleeve linen shirt are ideal.

* Avoid sunburns keep the sun off your body as much as possible, use hats & sunglasses.

* Stay fully hydrated. If you are fully hydrated before you start the hike and during you're body will be able to cool you off when you become overheated better. (Don't over drink to get that sloshy feeling, over drinking is even more dangerous. But drink adequately!)

* Acclimate your body for heat. Sure if you live in the desert this is easy but if you don't you have to acclimate in other ways, train in the heat of the day or in ways that puts your body into high heat experiences. If you are traveling they suggest you give yourself a day or two to get used to the heat before you begin exercising in it.

* Avoid the hottest parts of the day, take frequent breaks in the shade if you feel yourself getting overheated.

* If you feel yourself getting overheated tell others you are with so they can help monitor you.

While it is avoidable if you feel you could ever find yourself in this situation, please don't hike or exercise in the heat alone. Or don't let others go alone! If you do have someone you are with getting overheated STOP and immediately cool them down as best you can. Don't push on!


I've hiked my entire life, in deserts in the middle of the summer on hotter days than this. My dad took us out all the time in my youth and I carried my love for backpacking and hiking into my years now. He was a medic and always trained us little tid bits on what would you do if this happened, or what if that happened.... Truth be told I've never had to deal with any emergency situation in the backcountry. This was the first. Although I always do prepare and try to have first aid kits and knowledge of the area and such going into a trip like this. I honestly never would have imagined this could have really happened to someone I was with.

Most importantly it never hurts to take classes or learn what to do in certain situations. I was fortunate a few days before I left my dad called me and reminded me what to watch for in my friend since she isn't used to this climate. This also helped me remember the Emergency Medical Training Course I took a few years back, I recalled what to watch for, dehydration, exhaustion, stroke... I honestly thought I wouldn't need to remember any of it, but thanks to my dad it was all fresh on my mind heading into this.
I'm glad he did mention it because it only mentally prepared me even more for what I had no idea was coming.


Absolutely, I loved doing Rim 2 Rim but I still would love to do the full R2R2R. I have been tempted to join up with some strangers this fall, I had a few invites on IG, but we will see. School will be a priority then and I have a marathon to get ready for instead of hiking.

But who knows, I probably wouldn't do anything different however, I absolutely loved the night in the canyon. So I would definitely try my luck at the lottery next time just to see.  That may have been a once in a lifetime opportunity and once I knew my friend was okay I'll honestly admit I loved every minute of that beautiful night alone in the backcountry!

While we may not have accomplished all we set out to do, we accomplished all we were meant to do. Things could have turned out much worse, but Katie was seriously being watched out for, I saw 4 miracles happen to her and she definitely had some angels watching out for her. Those miracles may or may not have seemed like a big deal as you read them. But I was there, I witnessed them and if you were in the situation I know you'd feel the same. We were truely blessed and all my prayers were answered that day, I know that for a fact.

I had an incredible time with Katie, it was worth every minute of training we had a blast and I will definitely think of her now as a friend for life. Just next time we play, less heat LOL

Oh, and in case your wondering. Yes, the first thing I did a few days after I got back was write to that sweet wonderful Ranger's superiors and let them know what a fantastic and compassionate individual they have working for them!

Okay, this is seriously a novel and it is time for me to shut up now and let you get on with your life!

I'm Looking For Influencer's Who Want to Earn a Free Race Entry

As many of you probably know I am hosting a Virtual Race for my Senior Thesis project in college. One of the challenges set for it is only utilizing Influencers to help promote the event.

The first phase is using influencers who are interested in earning a FREE entry into the race of their choice, see below if you are interested.

Run Sea to Shining Sea is a Half Marathon, 10k or 5k Virtual Race event.  You can find more information about the race on the website

If you'd like to help me out with this event, by sharing it with your followers I'd love any help I can get! I'm looking for Influencers of ANY kind and you don't need to have a large following.
This could mean any of the following: Bloggers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram anyone who uses any form of social media with friends family...

While I'd love to be able to give everyone who helps promote it a free entry, I am not that rich because the t-shirt, medallion, and shipping cost more than you'd think. However, I have set up a reasonable way to EARN a FREE ENTRY for those interested in doing so.

It's Simple

If you'd like to see if you can get 6 of your followers, friends or family to sign up under a unique discount code you can use to promote the event (the unique discount code is for tracking purposes) you earn a free entry!

More information and the sign-up can be found at the link below.

I want you to succeed, in addition to your unique promotional code which will allow your followers to earn 15% off the list price.If the person who uses your unique code is willing to promote the event on their own Facebook page (during registration) they can save an additional amount to make the total discount 25% off the list price.

You will also be provided with marketing materials, tips (which I have learned through the research phase of my thesis on Influencers) to use to help maximize your promotional and influence abilities.

NOTE: Promotion for this event is from now throughout August 1st, I may have other opportunities coming up , this is phase one of the marketing plan in my thesis challenge. While it is not required, anyone who signs up to help promote this phase will have the first word about other promotional or free entry opportunities before I announce them to others.

I'm looking for runners who will let me feature them on my race blog. (You don't need to be a participant. I will be linking to your blog from it. If you are interested in this, fill out this form HERE and I'll be in contact!

Thanks, everyone!!