My pace slows considerably as I stop to rest every few minutes. Our team spreads into thinner groups, as stronger hikers make faster progress. I've concluded that hiking rim to rim in a day draws on to two key elements: Physical fitness and mental endurance. The less physically capable I am, the more mental endurance that will be required to complete this hike. As my legs tire and begin to cramp, my physical fitness shortcomings translate into a test of mental endurance. Even as I question my insufficient training that included ten mile runs accompanied with hill work, I remind myself how beautiful the scenery is and how fortunate I am to experience it.

After an eternity of hiking the steep portion of our hike we informally call "The Elevator Shaft", I reach the Supai Tunnel at mile 19 and am now at 6,800 feet above sea level. The Supai Tunnel, besides offering a rest area with water, represents the last key milestone before completing the hike. The Radio chirps with the celebratory sounds of faster hikers that are exiting the Canyon 2 miles ahead serve as motivation to continue pressing
forward. At this elevation Alpine trees begin to form, bringing shade and cooler temperatures while signaling progress to the finish line.

At this point, I move slowly, carefully, taking baby steps as any rapid step may lead my leg muscles to cramp. My legs have cramped on two occasions already and the associated pain is fresh in my memory. My eye spends too much time looking at the North Rim as it begins to appear almost level with my position, promising the finish line. I continue forward, and finally, at 5:30pm, after 12 hours of hiking, begin to see light through the pine trees, our support van, stronger hikers resting at the finish line, and cold beverages rewarding emerging hikers.

(Below) A view from the North Rim: The Canyon transept trail ("The box") follows our path and can be seen as a dark shadow moving diagonally from the lower left to the upper center of the frame