Tech trekking…

Kj: The bus picked us up bright and early about 6:00am and dropped us off about 15min later, at the South Kaibab Trailhead. We stopped for a few minutes and read the posted signs about the history of the trail and a few animals that are in the area. After that, we saw a bathroom and decided we had all better use it prior to starting our hike. We knew that it was a long way down and probably not many formal opportunities after that. 

Standing inline waiting to use the restroom, I noticed a very strange device that I hadn’t seen in quite a long – a pay phone! I pointed it out to those in our group with astonishment. How long has it been since you have actually seen or used a pay phone? I never thought about the fact that we were hiking into the Grand Canyon and we would not have any cellphone reception, no bars, and no apps that require service would fully work.

Looking lively, I pulled my cell phone from my pocket many times on the trip in order to take photos of the beautiful landscape and to document the memories with our family on this journey.

No joke, selfie deaths are on the rise at National Parks. Be alert, don’t be a statistic. Use common sense and the buddy system to grab a few pics but live to enjoy them in years to come.

I am not sure, when we actually lost cell service but if I were to guess, it was definitely within the first 30-45min of our hike. Several miles more into the journey down to Phantom Ranch, we passed a RED phone, and I took a picture of it thinking that is our only way to get help if someone gets hurt. Which true story, we did have a few in our party trailing behind us that had to use that emergency RED phone. (More to come on that in a different post.)

I was also disappointed because I was relying on my cell phone to keep track of how far I hiked, how long I was taking, etcSadly, my battery died long before I made it to the canyon floor.

Learning from that experience, I decided to buy a Suunto Traverse watch. I chose a watch because I wear one everyday so it will be natural for me. It arrived yesterday so I haven’t had a chance to try it out. However, the watch seems to have everything that I am looking for to track my journey. I will update you more once I have used it a few times. 

Technology can be a great way to savor and monitor your numbers on the trek. It really depends on what’s most important to you. Could be distance, steps, heart-rate, time, etc. Take the time to think about what your goals are, what is your intention and how technology can help serve your aim prior to hiking the GC!!

Pj: 28,714 steps on the down and 29,132 on the up days for GC 2017 on the Fitbit Charge HR. That’s about 15miles on my feet per day roughly even through the hikes themselves were 9 and 8 miles respectively. The device registered 328 floors on the way up, which I think significantly underrepresented the elevation change/gain on this hike.

Fitbit has been an awesome platform for social encouragement and visually representing daily outputs in steps, floors, and track resting heart rate.

There are other platforms from Garmin, Polar, Apple watch, etc. Find one that meets your needs.

I also made use of MapMyRide last Sat for a 27mile ride through local state park in 2:25 hours:mins. with 1700ft elevation gain. Not winning any race stages with that pace. Nonetheless, it felt great to spin the wheels outdoors and work on a base level of endurance.

Have you ever wondered how the ancient Greeks constructed the Acropolis of Athens with none of the modern technology the we enjoy even in a cellphone? Yet, the skill, precision, and craftsmanship evident is dizzying. They understood perspective no less than that of the Renaissance genius Leonardo DaVinci. Their motivation was wedded to striving for the lofty ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness! The historical record leaves little doubt the depth of devotion towards this trinity.

In our post-modern world, the sources of motivation can be shrouded in personal wishes and fall short of these noble prime movers. But there is Hope. In this Information Age, creators such as Steve Jobs have pointed to a world where technology is woven through with beauty and elegance of design. Where technology could assist in being truthful with attention to the numbers. “They don’t lie.” Tech also has the ability to support the search and striving for the Good at any level of magnification.

For those thinking about making serious life changes, find your motivation where your heart is. Mine happens to be with a close friend who is in hospice care with cancer. After feeling helpless to make an impact on my friends health, I, on the one hand am searching for acceptance and serenity, and on the other to what I can change which is my own questionable health. I, like so many at times, have taken my health for granted. However, over the past several months, I have been moved to rethink nutrition and exercise. It helps when your younger brother is a Strength & Conditioning Coach at a power -5 conference university. He suggested I try Whole30 and Wow! what a difference it has made in my weight, health, energy! At my latest monthly (not daily) weigh-in, my digital scale thought I was a guest! Love that!

Measure, count, record, study, learn from experience, use the tools of today to become that which you seek. Become your Self, to be yourself, so you can be with another, for our humanity is held in relationship.

John Muir, that mystic of the mountains, once said, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe.”


Above the rim…

Kj: Arriving in the Grand Canyon National Park you will be over taken by the pure beauty. My first time there it was difficult for my mind to comprehend what I was seeing. It was almost as if I was viewing a postcard or a painting.

Granted, our focus was the hike down, staying at the Phantom Ranch and the hike back up. However, I strongly encourage anyone who is making the hike down to plan an extra day or two and enjoy the rim of the canyon.  After two days of hiking and making it back up to the top, I found Bright Angel Fountain and had some incredible ice cream! Maybe it was that much better after the long steep hike out of the canyon. However, it tasted amazing and just what the doctor ordered. After the sweet treat, it was off to a nice cold shower, change of clothes, then some exploring. There are many gift shops that you can find in the rim lodges. The El Tovar is the premier lodge. If you are lucky enough and there is space available, I would definitely book a reservation. It is bit expensive but well worth it! For Coffee try, the Canyon Coffee House which has several varieties including organic coffee drinks and some pastries. If you are looking for gift shops, I would suggest the Yavapai Lodge Gift Shop which has a lot to offer and some great history of the Canyon. Last but certainly not least, if you are looking for a few drinks after your hike (which was my third stop) try out the bar at the El Tovar! You can sit both inside and outside and not infrequently, you can see some Elk, up pretty close, roaming the area. Have fun with the stay and remember to explore some sites on the rim while staying in this magnificent location!

Pj: On the drive in to the City of Roses recently, I stopped at Multanomah Falls and hiked 2.2miles with 700ft elevation gain to the top in about 30min. and was promptly rained on all the way back down to my car. Felt great to see 96 floors on my Fitbit at the end of the day.

Does fishing for Halibut count as training? I hope so! Caught my tag off the Oregon Coast. Cj, my youngest brother and a great Khal in his own right, made the trip from the City of Angels to join in a bucklist trip. We left out of Depoe Bay, which claims the title of world’s smallest navigable harbor. Capt. James, a master of his craft, aboard the Triump took a small group about 35miles out on choppy water to a sweet spot that was known to other boat captains who joined in the sea bottom harvest of some tasty fish.

After Cj and I had our catch filleted and vacuum packed, we made the two hour jaunt back to Portland. We advanced our reservation for the Multnomah Whiskey Library and enjoyed the edifying selections our whiskey scholars suggested to enhance the savory libations. However, at the end of the day a peak at Powell’s, a stroll past Voodoo doughnuts and breakfast at Mother’s with the elfin service of Erica rounded out with a look at the Internation Rose Test Garden made for a Spirited experience!

Tick-tock…I hear the crocadile…ever hungry ready to devour the unprepared, the foolish, the weak. All those who wish to avoid this sea moster, stay above the rim.

Rise ‘n Shine…

Kj: Woke up at 4:30am the morning of the hike. I started with a nice shower, a little bit of coffee and a small breakfast. Next, I had to stretch in order to loosen up my body. I stretched which felt like for an hour. Mainly I was trying to loosen up my legs to get ready for this journey.

After meeting up with the group and taking the short bus ride, we got started on the trail. My legs felt great, in fact, my whole body felt great. I was overwhelmed with excitement, happiness, joy, and the beauty that was surrounding me. I had adrenaline flowing through my veins, and there was a bit of nervousness wrapped inside me not knowing exactly what I was getting into.

Then about 4-5 hours into the hike all that had disappeared and all that I could think about were my legs. Was I going to make it or were my legs simply going to give out. I felt the jello legs coming on and it scared the death out of me. I was not at Phantom Ranch yet and I still had to hike back up the next day. That was 2017 and I do not want to have that feeling in 2020. Will 2020 be challenging? Without a doubt, Yes! However, I don’t want to be scared that I cannot go any further. 

I am currently working on my legs more and more to prepare. I am doing back squats, which is a full body exercise that primarily trains the thighs, hips, buttocks, and hamstrings. Then I alternate with front squats, which primarily trains the quads and upper back. Never leave out one of the best exercises deadlifts. Deadlifts are incredible because they train so many different body parts. Starting with the Buttocks, quads, inner thighs, Hamstrings, lower and upper back. Try these three exercises to make sure your legs are strong and you have the stamina to complete this incredible hike!

Pj: A strong base through weights and cardio ought to make this visit to experience a natural wonder of the world more enjoyable than a weekend warrior FUBAR session.

My goal is to build back up to a century on the bike with plenty of hill work. Yearly the Tour de France inspires early morning rides to test my metal against distance and elevation. A bucklist goal is to cheer on the riders coming up Alpe D’Huez which is an 8.1mi ascent with avg. gradient of 8.1% with 21 switchback turns and max. gradient of 13%. then wander the French countryside savoring history, place, and culture on the way to meeting the pelaton in Paris under the Arc de Triomphe!

Sets goals and break them down to attainable tasks! Make your goals big enough to energize you! Reward yourself along the way and make the achievement the reward in its self.

time to Rise and Shine…

Dem pups…

Kj: Making the trek down to Phantom Ranch is definitely strenuous and even painful at times. Try doing 8-10 inch step downs for 8hours straight, descending 1 mile into a convection oven that gets hotter as you go down. No way to replicate this challenge, you have to go and do! And when you reach the bottom of the canyon and experience moments of relief, your brain starts to bargain for ways not to have to climb out the next day…mule, raft, helicopter, take up permanent residence, anything besides using your spent muscles to ascend from the deep.

I remember clearly that when I arrived at my bunk after the grueling hike down in 2017, there were parts of my body that hurt that I did not realize existed. How can I change this and be better prepared? How can I not be in so much pain days and days after the hike? This year of preparation, I am concentrating on crossfit training. I am also going to throw in Saturday swims, and bike rides. This will continue to work body parts that I am not used to conditioning. It will push my athletics to another level. The more that I can concentrate on working the whole body the better off I will be for this journey. 

In addition, never forget to take care of your feet while training. I feel like it’s easy to forget about them and focus on larger muscle groups. Don’t, the price is too high! Along with the right shoe’s you will need the right socks for this journey.  Socks are key in preventing blisters, hotspots, cramping and many more issues that can derail your hiking trip. Get out and try as many as you can prior to your hike. I don’t have an exact go to sock yet but I am continuing to try to find the pair that works perfectly. Have fun with this and try as many as you can!

Pj: Cross-training this weekend in the pan-handle of Idaho. Road the Hiawatha trail with my daughter, Fj, who is the reason for our return trip to GC 2020. She had the privilege of growing up in the Great Pacific Northwest, now off to college on the west coast and has taken up hiking with other undergrads off campus to stay close to nature!

Mindful gratitude infuses her being with the harmony and serenity of the organic Gaia. On the bike trail, we covered 15miles through 10 tunnels and several trellis overpasses with pleasant vistas and running streams. Nice way to mix training up and experience an interesting bit of history. The bike path is repurposed train route, tracks and tunnel system dating back to early 1900s. We made use of bike and helmet lights to navigate the longer tunnels. The longest of which was about 1.5miles. The local bus driver on our ride back up to our car told of the mega-fire of 1910 and how folks hid out in the tunnels and survived. Amazing!

Gear is an under appreciated part of a successful, enjoyable excursion. Socks can be quite technical from riding socks to slim, medium or thick hiking socks. I went with medium thickness socks with added cushion, snug and form fitting not to slip around. Highly recommend trying out MoleSkin too. The down stepping for 9-miles will almost assuredly lead to some blisters and the additional padding can help reduce the number and severity. As always, take these suggestions with a grain of salt, try thing out, find what works for you, talk to professionals as needed. Bon Voyage!

Not too early…

Kj: Another day closer to the big hike to the into the Grand Canyon, where the Colorado River has been carving it for around 20 million years. Wow, take a second and think about that…20 million years! Truly amazing! I have a positive mindset approaching this hike and motivated to be in good shape to enjoy it.

Unfortunately with all the rain we have had lately I have not been able to get out and hike. I have primarily been in doors, at my gym. I have been concentrating on full bodywork outs with an emphasis on legs. This means plenty of squats, deadlifts and box step ups. My Goal is to transition 6-months out to more cardio. Last time, I was not prepared for the steep downhill steps on the trail. So, I am doing the big box step-ups and down. Today, I through a 25-pound pack on my back while doing this exercise. (Talkabout kicking my butt!). 

Exercise and being in shape is all good, but if you don’t  have the right pair of hiking boots/shoes, you will not make it. Remember everyone is different when it comes to footwear so make sure you are researching, trying on, and getting out hiking in your foot gear. It took me three pairs of hiking boots to realize that I was better off in a mid-hiking shoe. Then another pair to find the ones that fit my feet really well. I personally went with North Face as I like their hiking shoe, and it fits me best. Again do your research but most of all make sure you break them in well and not just on flat walking surfaces. It’a completely different ball game especially when you are climbing out of the canyon. Do yourself a favor and don’t  be afraid to spend the extra buck to get a better quality-hiking shoe. You will be thanking yourself about 4 hours into the hike of a lifetime and your feet don’t hurt

Pj: The Emrald Mile by Kevin Fedarko is a must read or audiobook prior to arriving on the Rim. An amazing story of the fastest boat ride through the Grand Canyon woven through with geology, hydrology, and history! Crossing the Colorado River approaching Phanton Ranch, you may get a glimpse of the inspiring dory!

Walking, biking, squats, lunges, jump-squats, and box steps have been go-tos. For my feet, I have gone through several shoes options. For multi-day hikes Salomon full-hiking boots provide a firm sole and ankle stability. For a two day hike with a relatively light pack, I prefer Keen mids which are light, firm, stable, and have a wide shoe box. Start well in advance and find what works for you, so your trip is focused on the beauty not the pain! Never enough, do more, be more!

In advance…

Kj: So you think you can just plan to hike the Grand Canyon a month or two prior to hiking? Why not it’s just like showing up at the local mountain and taking a Sunday stroll to see the sites and enjoy the outdoors. Not so. Sadly, I had to learn this the hard way. I thought a few months prior would give me plenty of time. Then I started thinking where will you stay the night prior to your hike? Where will you stay the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Will you camp or will you put in for the ever so hard to get Phantom Ranch? What about Permits, do I need them or can I just show up? How do I get to the trailhead? Which trail am I taking down and going back up? So many logistic questions need to be answered well before you decide to take on one of the greatest hikes in the world. I cannot answer all of these on one post but I will answer a few.

First and for most,I would suggest to stay at the Phantom Ranch. It is an amazing place with a few cottages and same sex dorms. When we went in 2017, this is where we stayed and if you get lucky enough to get a spot, you will thank me later. The Stew is amazing, the one beer I had was refreshing, and the shower was incredible. Plus the likeminded people that you get to meet from all over the world really was the best part. Reservation for Phantom Ranch fill up quickly! In 2017, Phantom Ranch was accepting reservations on the first of each month for the same month of the following year. However, from my understanding this has now changed to an online lottery system beginning with stay on Jan 1, 2019 and beyond. For example, today they are currently accepting lottery submissions for July of 2020. Check out to get into the lottery.  Your own Journey awaits!!!

Pj: Start at least 18months in advance of your GC hike. April, early May, or Sept are prime time given soaring temps by late May through late Aug. No joke, there are several signs that worn of heat stroke on the trails. It gets hotter as you descend into the canyon. Also dehydration occurs more quickly due to arid climate so the need for over-estimating water needs is essential.

We entered the lottery for Phantom ranch in March 2019 for May 2020. We were informed in mid-April of receiving a lottery spot and given two week to pay in full. Highly recommend adding Stew dinner, early breakfast, and sack lunch.

Next step is housing before and after. The quick out of state, still working, only have so many days off a year route is to fly in to Phoenix, rent a car,drive the five hours, stopping in Sedona at The Cowboy Club for lunch and continue on to the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim.

With planning, one year in advance, Xantera who manages lodging in national parks opens availability on GC. At 7AM mountain 12months prion on 1st of month, call to make reservations. El Tovar is the high end traditional lodge experience but there are several other on the rim options but you want to be on the Rim. The ability to behold the canyon as the light changes hues and brilliance is part of its majesty! Stay the night before, one night at least at Phantom Ranch, and one night back on the South Rim after. You can make reservations for El Tovar dinning room after the ascent for a delicious restorative celebratory meal with family and friends to savor the stories of your time in the Grand Canyon. A four day total trip, with memories for a lifetime!

Prepping GC 2020

Kj-One year away from the hike and I am feeling as if I have plenty of time to prepare. Which I believe was my mindset in 2017, so I procrastinated on the prepping and next thing I knew I felt like I was headed to GC without much preparation as if I was going on a simple few hour hike. It is time to change the is time to change the attitude, it is time to start writing down the gear, food, supplies that I will need in order to make this year a much better experience physically and emotionally. I plan to enjoy my Grand Canyon beer at Phantom Ranch instead of feeling as if I needed and IV of fluids to hydrate. (On the other hand, maybe an IV of beer might have done better). One thing I have already changed this year is I am doing more of a CrossFit type workout to better prepare my entire body for this hike. This includes many leg workouts, box jumps, side box step ups, lunges, squats both front and back. I will get into more of my workout on a different post. Overall, this week I am changing my mindset that I do not have time to keep pushing preparation off to another week. GC here we come! Join us on this journey!

Pj-Glad there is a year to get ready. And I’m not ready at all. I completed a 12k walk this past weekend. It was an enjoyable time in early spring to soak up the sunshine and warmth of the season. The post walk soreness tells me I’m a long way off from hiking a vertical mile into and out of the Grand Canyon! Hip flexors and shins are in knots. Rolling out and stretching is helpful. Trying to replicate the 9mile step-down of the Kaibab trail, the scenic trail from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch, will be a monumental challenge! I’m prepping body, heart, mind, and spirit! Nutrition and body transformation process are underway…more next post. Find a challenge that calls forth your best self, and seize the day! Yep, Carpe Diem my friends, Carpe Diem!