Will Rogers State Historic Park to Trippet Ranch
25 miles: out and back on the Backbone Trail 11.5 each way; 1 mile to and from the trailhead inside WRSHP
Not really any elevation gain or loss to speak of; a few hundred feet, probably
About 7 hours walking and 30 minutes for lunch
So, I was thinking about going to the Grand Canyon later in the year, and when I started reading about walking in and around the canyon, I came across what some call a "classic" walk: rim to rim in a day. The walk is about 23 miles in total with an elevation drop and then gain of about 6,000 feet each way. While some call it classic, others call it crazy. The National Park Service literature warns against attempting it. But trip reports around the internet prove that it's done quite often. In fact, it seems that it's more often run than walked. Anyway, all of this piqued my interest. What would it be like to walk across the Grand Canyon without stopping? What would it be like to walk across the Grand Canyon without stopping, alone?
I mentioned to a friend or two that I'd heard of people walking from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other in a single day and was roundly, vigorously discouraged from attempting it. But my trip was months away; it couldn't hurt to do a little experimenting to test whether I was fit enough for such an adventure. To be safe, I decided to do one walk approximating the distance and another one approximating the elevation gain and loss. Since I often walk in Will Rogers State Historic Park and have also walked a bit near Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park, it seemed like a nice idea to use the Backbone Trail to link the two, and the distance was just a little bit longer than the 23-mile estimates of the rim to rim grand Canyon walk with very little elevation gain and loss. I chose a convenient Saturday in July and put it on the calendar.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
I remained up there in the blue, blue sky, eating my lunch and looking out into forever for an hour or so. I've come to always eat the same thing on long walks. The salad of red quinoa, black beans, and avocado laced with red onion, lime, and salt is so satisfying. I ate a bunch of raw almonds, too, and some 85% chocolate that was melting from the mid-day sun. I felt high. Facing southwest while I ate my lunch, I saw the peak of Mount Baldy, where I'd been just a week prior. And beyond that, I could see the towers and white domes atop Mount Wilson, the mountain where this whole story began. Closer in, I looked in revery at the casually imposing Mount San Gorgonio, the tallest mountain in southern California. From my spot at 10,834 feet, its 11,503 feet didn't seem all that intimidating, and I couldn't wait to get up there, too.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Finally, I reached the divide. I heard it before I saw it. Feeling mildly afraid of my body's response to the last leg of the walk, I was anxious to get to Wellman Divide. I am often shy and sometimes annoyed when there are a lot of folks at a resting place, but when I heard all of the voices up ahead, I was relieved. If I fainted, at least there were people around to help me right away. I set my pack down on the first open rock I spotted in the shady clearing and found the liter Platypus bag I'd filled with an electrolyte drink I'd made. I leaned against the big rock and drank deeply. In any other setting the taste of the lemon, honey, salt, and baking soda concoction would have tasted like a botched lemonade, but right then, it was the most delicious thing I could imagine. I'd been walking at a swift pace for three hours without stopping for more than a few minutes at a time. I'd covered five and a half miles and climbed 3,500 feet to Wellman Divide at 9,720 feet above sea level. I was tired and dizzy, but as I concentrated on my breath, I could feel my body acclimating to the new surroundings.