Kelly and I were a little nervous last night.
We had to meet our coach, Craig, at Thunderbird Park to be timed hiking a mile. Craig needed to see that we can hike fast enough for the trail we've chosen in the Grand Canyon. Our choice is the longest hike that is offered, and they need to make sure that those who hike it can keep up, so that we're not still out there after dark.
We chatted with him as we waited for the others from our team to show up. Exactly how fast do we have to hike, we asked him. Oh, at least 2.5 to 3 miles per hour, he told us.
Three miles per hour?! We have no idea how fast that is, but it sounds pretty fast. What if we come in at 2 miles per hour and they won't let us hike the Bright Angel trail? It's what we've been looking forward to all along!
We start off at what feels like a good pace, despite a freak wind that keeps whipping around the side of the mountain and tossing dust in our faces. We reach the turnaround point, a trail marker where we are instructed to stop and wait for the whole group before heading back.
We wait. We are ahead of everyone else on our team, which is a good sign, but we also know that we signed up for the most difficult hike, and the others might have chosen shorter or easier hikes. They don't have to clock in as fast as we do.
One by one our teammates join us and tease us about our speed, calling us "The Speedsters." This makes us a little more confident.
Finally, Craig comes around the corner with his dog, Shorty. He spots me and Kelly and says, "Ok, ya'll definitely hike faster than 3 miles per hour. Ya'll took off."
We made it!
Here is Craig, signing off on our paperwork, confirming that we can handle Bright Angel: