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We Are Dipshits

So Corrie and I nearly became one of those heat-related casualties at the Grand Canyon this weekend.

“Are you doing okay?” asked Corrie.

“Yup, tip-top,” I said, voice strong. It was the truth. I felt great, top of my form. I had a small toe blister, a small arch blister, and my left knee was aching slightly, but after a 4.5 mile hike, that ain’t too bad. We had just begun our ascent of the Grand Canyon, after hiking down to the Tip Off point. We’d made it to Skeleton Point in two hours and twenty minutes — it was only 10:20 am when we got there. Assume that it takes 1.5 times your descent time to get back up, and that would have put us back at the top again at 1:30 pm. Too early, not enough hike time for the day.

Pre-Hike Dummies
Pre-Hike Dummies

We had plenty of water, plenty of food, a first aid kit, a water filter, we felt great, so we decided it was perfectly prudent to do one more downhill mile before turning, and we headed for Tip Off point.

At this point, I should stop and clear one thing up. We’re dipshits. Pure and simple, straight out. No mitigating factors, no reason that things weren’t clear. We are fucking dumb and we got lucky, and that’s why we made it back. Period.

Dunno if you’ve been to the Grand Canyon. If you haven’t, I’ll describe a bit of the scene. You’ve got this largish cleft where God was practicing his hatchet throw. It’s sort of pretty, too, as you may have heard. And it’s surrounded by big signs telling you that you’ll die if you hike too far into it during summer. There’s one that tells the story of a triathlon winner who thought she could hike to the river and back in one day. Dead. There’s one that mentions that 60 people are treated per day for heat-related injuries. There’s one that mentions that there are 250 hiking-related injuries per year. The little newspaper they give you at the entrance has a long session telling you about common heat injuries and their symptoms. It also tells you how far you can safely hike during the summer. It says in big, bold letters, “DO NOT GO BEYOND SKELETON POINT DURING SUMMER.” As you descend the trail towards Skeleton Point, there’s a big sign along the way that mentions casually, sort of just in passing, that if you try to get to the river and back in one day you WILL die.

We told ourselves that this multitude of signs was intended to discourage the casual, out-of-shape hiker. Didn’t apply to us – we were prepared, we knew the mileage, we knew what sort of shape we were in, etc. etc. death etc. So, yeah, “Hi! My name is Jason and I’m a dumbass.”

We got to the switchbacks that lead from Tip Off back up to Skeleton Point. As we’d been descending through them, I’d thought to myself, “These are going to suck on the way back up.” They did. We didn’t have as much water left as we should, so I was rationing myself. We’d mixed about half of our remaining water with Emergen-C packets, to use as an electrolyte source. I’d had reservations about this, but after looking at the ingredients, they definitely had electrolytes, so I guess it was cool. But every time I took a drink from the electrolyte-water, I felt nauseous afterwards. So in my head, I’d written off the electrolyte water as “emergency use only” and I was limiting my consumption of the clean water in my Camelbak.


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