Sarah’s Grand Canyon Story

BOY DO WE HAVE A STORY TO TELL!!!! It was an extremely difficult rough trail. Anyone who has been there will confirm that there are lots of erosion logs, rocks, dust, and switchbacks (basically U-turns ) that are on the trail. The trail rider is the special device they used to take Sarah down into the canyon. It has a large wheel (like a wheel barrel) under Sarah. Then there are steel handles in front and in the back. Two people work to move the person in the trail rider on the way down the trail. If there are high logs then two more people assist from the sides to gently lift the device over the obstacle. It has a hydraulic brake. When we are going up the trail three more people were attached to the trail rider via harness and long cords. This helped to pull the weight against gravity and thus up the trail. This was not an easy task after many hours. As fatigue set in, the task got harder and harder.

Sarah & Beverly Service

Sarah & Beverly Service

It was an incredibly beautiful place. Sarah’s smile says it all!!!!! It was worth all of the effort!!!

Our team was made up of 13 people: Two pastors, three teenage boys, two journalists, two disability coordinators, one bus driver, an bear hunter, Sarah and myself. Jim was our leader (He is a disability camp coordinator/director….He also used to be a guide at the Grand Canyon.) Jim did a great job preparing us for the trip. We all had headlamps, cold weather gear, water, carbs to eat, gloves so we would not wear blisters on our hands, poles to help keep our balance during hiking).

We drove in a bus for 34 hours. We actually switched drivers so everyone was safe. As we went west we gained time, so when we got up to hike on Wednesday, we were able to get up on mountain time and it was only 8:30 KY time. We started out in the dark…..the temperature was about 35 degrees. The trail started off gently, but as you progress into the canyon it gets more intense. There were multiple erosion logs on the trail that could range from inch above the ground to 10 inches above the ground. (about as high as a railroad beam) We have tried to estimate that there were at LEAST 4000 of these. The work got harder as the canyon heated up to 75 degrees.

We started down the trail the Bright Angel Trail @ 0530 am. We traveled 4.5 miles into the canyon and that took us 7 hours. Our plan was to hike 7 miles in, but because of the intensity of the trail, and the length of time it took to get to that point….we turned around.

We wanted to get out of the canyon without anyone getting hurt or being too exhausted to travel. We still made history because no other non-ambulatory person had been able to make it to that point.

The total amount we hiked was 9.24 miles @ a rate of 0.6 miles per hour (the hunter had a GPS system with him). We saw some of the most beautiful and spectacular scenery I have every seen. We shared the trail with mules, and people from all over the world. The age range of the hikers was from about 10 years old to many in their 60’s and 70’s. Distances hikers were traveling ranged from one mile to 26!! We even met people from Trimble County while we were there ( traveled 1750 miles to meet a neighbor!!!! GO FIGURE!!!) We reached the top again after 16 hours of hiking. We got to see a sunrise and a sunset. We even got to see the moon cast shadows on the canyon walls.

The group worked so hard. They used every ounce of physical strength they had to make this dream a reality for Sarah. In doing so we DEFINITELY paved ground for disabilities. Many people would just stop and watch as we slowly worked our way up and down the canyon. Many would stop and ask Sarah if they could take her picture. One line of lady hikers from Washington State each shook Sarah’s hand as they walked by her. Each gave her encouraging words.

Thirteen hours into the hike , Sarah was still asking us to take a picture of the spectacular majestic views!!! To me this was a testimony of how much she enjoyed being in the canyon. The ride was not smooth for her. She was jostled each time the crew was lifting her over the erosion logs (many of them were cedar trees cut to fit the trail). There we also large rocks on some of the switchbacks.

But we survived!!!!! I earned the right to wear the t-shirt I bought which says…..”I hiked, I complained, I nearly passed out, and I barely made it out of the Grand Canyon!!” Every word of this is true………but now I am ready to look into hiking the Appalachian Trail…….ROFLMAO!!!!!!

Beverly Service

10/17 Sarah’s story appeared in the Lexington Herald Leader. It was in the City/ Region section!!
Published on 2008-10-17, Page B1, Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) (http://www NULL.thescizone NULL.html)

Friends For Michael Spinal Cord Injury Organization
Helped Sponsor Sarah’s Trip to the Grand Canyon

Related Links:

  • Paraplegic turns trailblazer – Lexington Herald-Leader (http://www NULL.kentucky NULL.html)
  • Alpenglow Adventures Trips (http://www NULL.alpenglowadventures