Archive for Tuesday, July 10, 1990

HIKE INTO GRAND CANYON TESTS SKILLS OF BOY SCOUT, HIS MOTHER

July 10, 1990

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To hike the Grand Canyon once, from rim to rim to rim, was enough for Jeannette Hopkins, hike coordinator for Boy Scout Troop 53.

Her 12-year-old son, Corey, also said he isn't likely to tackle that same 50 miles again until after he has his own children.

But both said they gained a lot from challenging their physical and mental limits.

Mrs. Hopkins and her son, a Scout in Troop 53, hit the trail May 31. They hiked six to eight hours a day for six days, carrying 30-pound packs. Their trip took them down the south rim, up the north and then back up the south rim.

"Hiking in Kansas is not preparing for the Grand Canyon," she said.

The intense hiking took away Corey's appetite. He said snack bars were pretty much all he ate after the first day or two on the trail. Hopkins guesses that he lost at least 5 pounds on the hike.

BUT FOOD that didn't require refrigeration and packed easily was a must. Water and confortable shoes became a lot more important than food, Corey said.

At least one gallon of water had to be lugged around daily, Mrs. Hopkins said, because suitable drinking water is sparse in the canyon.

The importance of water was brought home sharply to Mrs. Hopkins on the third day of the trip when she became dehydrated.

The two were working to reach the north rim of the canyon, which required several miles of steep hiking, taking them from an altitude of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. Neither had slept well the night before.

About one-fourth of a mile from the rim, Mrs. Hopkins was moving so slowly that several hikers stopped to ask if she was all right.

Though she knew the symptons of dehydration, Mrs. Hopkins thought she was just a little tired and hungry.

COREY hiked on ahead briefly, but then was sent back to stay with his mother by a hiker who had decided to send for a ranger.

By this time, Mrs. Hopkins was lying on the ground resting. A ranger they had met while camping the night before soon showed up. He brought with him a glucose-based drink, which Mrs. Hopkins quickly drank. The two guarts of liquid replenished her system and she was ready to go.

There were no easy days on the hike, Mrs. Hopkins said. The hike is quite difficult and done only by few people, she said. Many visitors view the canyon from a mule train or hike a portion of the canyon and then come back out.

The pair said no one they encountered on the trip was hiking from rim to rim and back.

They found that the best way to meet the physical challenge was to hike with others, when possible.

"YOU WILL not find nicer people than people trying to meet a challenge" Mrs. Hopkins said.

Mother and son also got to know several rangers when they volunteered an hour or two of work at each campground. Volunteers help collect trash or check on seedlings recently planted.

After completing their canyon trip, the two put in a few hours of volunteer work at the canyon's fire station, where they rolled up fire hoses.

This experience gave them a glimpse into the life of the rangers and their families. Mrs. Hopkins, a teacher at West Junior High School, said she was surpised to discover both an elementary and high school at the canyon.

She and her son learned a lot while hiking the canyon, getting to view firsthand how different layers of soil and rock differ. One step is like looking at 3,000 years of development in the canyon, Corey said, referring to what a ranger had told him.

The duo have completed an application to the Grand Canyon Boy Scout Council that verifies they completed the hike. The council recognizes the feat with a patch and a medal for applicants who include an 800-word summary of their trip.

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