Main Thread April 30, 2015 • 3 min read

The time I left Steve in the Grand Canyon

Years ago my college roommate and since long-time friend, Steve, and I hiked the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. Now before I tell this story, you need to know one thing about Steve — he isn't much of a planner. Admittedly I'm more of a planner than most. But Steve likes to wing it. So the plan was flawed from the start and we brought what was to follow upon ourselves.

Originally we planned to stay the night in the Grand Canyon. However, upon arriving to the Grand Canyon, we found that you needed a camping permit. Which, of course, we did not have. So a decision was made to turn what would have been a two day hike into a day hike.

Now we started hiking the Bright Angel Trail around 10:00am. Rather late in the day to start a 12 mile, 6,000ft elevation change hike. In fact, about a mile in a park ranger stopped us. He gave us a quick check.

How far you guys heading? To the point. Kind of a late start. You'll be on the point during the hottest part of the day and probably be hiking out in the dark.You got flashlights? Yes Food? 2 meals each and a couple snacks. Water? Yes. Each have 3-liters. Okay.

I guess we passed his test. We continued hiking down and reached the 3-mile station. There was a station every 1.5 miles along the trail. We had a snack and refilled with water. The trail began to level out and we made good time to Indian Garden (4.5). It was probably around 2:00pm.

Steve decided to rest at Indian Garden. This was the first time he had mentioned being tired. I tried to convince him to hike to the point. The Grand Canyon has two rims — the outer rim and inner rim. It's rare to see all the way down to the Colorado River from the outer rim. Plateau Point is a lookout from the top of inner rim. From there you can look straight down and see the Colorado River.

Now I couldn't hear the person on the other end of the line. So I am filling in the dialogue. But it was pretty obvious they were assessing the gravity of the situation.

Park Services I'm on the Bright Angel Trail and I need asistance. Are you hurt? No What's the problem sir? I'm physically exhausted. I can't hike any farther. Is anyone with you? Yes. My friend Jason. Is he okay? Yes. He's fine. I'm holding him up. Do you have food? Yes. Water? Yes. Medicine? No. Stay where you are, hydrate, and elevate your legs. You don't understand. I'm physically exhausted. I need assistance! Rest and call us back.

They didn't tell Steve anything I didn't know already. Steve could make it out of the Grand Canyon. It would have been painful and slow-going. But he could have. He had resolved to stop. And that was that.

I rested with him for a half hour or so. Surprisingly a few lone hikers were behind us. One a former trail guide. He gave Steve a few eloctrolyte mixes. He said he'd rest with Steve and hike out with him. I hadn't contacted my Dad in a few hours.

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