Two-Man Bedford Team Conquers the Grand Canyon

Hiking the Grand Canyon ~ Image (c) Henning and Grove, 2021 all rights reserved

~ Submitted by John Grove and Steve Henning

Grand Canyon hikers Steve Henning and John Grove during their adventure on October 17/18, 2021 – Courtesy images (c) all rights reserved ~ Click to see the full-size image

Bedford residents John Grove and Steve Henning hiked across the Grand Canyon, from the North Rim to the South Rim, in mid-October, 2021.

After a summer of training, including a test hike on Mt Washington, John and Steve flew to Las Vegas, a few days before the trek, to begin their adventure in the canyon. They then drove to the tiny, North Rim town of Fredonia and spent the night in a simple cabin. At 4:00 A.M. they rose to arrive at the limited parking area, and awaited the sunrise.

Downward they began, from an elevation of 8,297’, with packed snow, and ice hidden under mud along the first mile of the North Kaibab trail. Though the temperatures were in the 20’s, carrying 25-pound packs, they warmed quickly.

Throughout the two-day hike, John was challenged by his acrophobia, especially when the four-foot-wide trail featured several hundred-foot drops on one side.

The silver suspension bridge ~

The frequent switchbacks offered incredible views of Bright Angel Canyon as they made their way to the Phantom Ranch, along the Colorado River, 14 miles away, and 5,837’ below.

Every mile the terrain, layered colors of the canyon walls, and vegetation changed, offering new perspectives and beauty. The final few miles to the ranch were exhausting. However, a hearty beef stew dinner and a few beers helped soothe their tired bones.

They shared their campsite with a few canyon residents—a Mule Deer doe, and her fawn, and a few Ring-Tailed Cats.

A near-full moon hovered above until early morning, when the stars were especially bright, peppered with frequent meteorite streaks.

With temperatures in the 50’s, John and Steve rose at 5  A.M. and fueled up on a delicious egg and sausage breakfast provided by Phantom Ranch. After making it across the Silver Suspension Bridge, and the chocolate milk-colored river, they wound their way up the increasingly lush Garden Creek.

Passing waterfalls, larger trees, and swirling pools of crystal clear water, they arrived at Indian Gardens, named after the ancient Puebloans, and Havasupai tribes that had farmed the area for hundreds of years.

After a long break, John and Steve began the final four miles of the hike, the steepest and most challenging of this route. As they ascended the Bright Angel Trail, to the South Rim, the elevation increased to 6,804’, requiring more frequent stops, albeit with some of the best views of the trip.

The temperature decreased, and the forecasted winds appeared, gusting near 50 MPH, at the very top of the rim.

They did it!

They had tackled the Grand Canyon, on a route and time schedule, that the Park Rangers had called, aggressive, and warned against. In 2021 an already record 18 people had died in the Grand Canyon, mostly due to the heat and insufficient preparation.

It was this danger that convinced them to hike in mid-October when the conditions are near perfect, and the crowds are much smaller. Overall, their training, pack planning, appropriate rest, and hydration stops all paid off.

The next day they took a shuttle van, on a 5-hour drive around the East end of the Canyon, back to their car, to begin the journey home.

It was on this drive, through barren deserts, and dilapidated reservation homes, that they truly appreciated the bounty we enjoy in Bedford and New England.

Though the Grand Canyon’s scale and beauty are unparalleled in the world, there truly is no place like home.

Both John and Steve hope this accomplishment will be an inspiration to others: Be grateful for what you have, what you can do, and go challenge yourself.

Canyon views ~ Iphone images (c) Henning and Stone, 2021 all rights reserved

5 Comments

  1. This story is an inspiration! As an avid hiker myself I really enjoy hearing about others hiking adventures!
    What an amazing accomplishment!

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