Team McGraw [My brother Scott-left, me-center and Jeff McMahon celebrity keyboardist with Tim McGraw-right] tackled over 24 miles, with 11,000 feet of elevation change and raised over $10,000 for the Tug McGraw Foundation in memory of our father Roy Hadfield, whose adventurous spirit lives on in all of us.
It’s difficult to translate our 12-hour fast-packing adventure across the Grand Canyon. Tuesday morning, we stood at the top of the North Rim at 8,200 feet and could see all the way across to the South Rim, or in our case, the finish line. It was an overwhelming view that literally took my breath away. It’s not that people haven’t traveled from rim to rim on foot, it’s just that most have done it over several days, not hours. I tried to digest the enormity of it all, but like geometry, it just didn’t make sense. It was the first time I had ever seen the finish line from the start, and what lay between seemed nearly impossible.
The temperature range was almost as extreme as the trail with the morning temperature at 29 degrees and 80 degrees at the base of the canyon. We followed the infamous North Kaibab Trail 14 miles and descended over a mile deep through layers of red rock glowing in the
morning sun. I took a million pictures, but knew there was just no way to capture the essence of what I was seeing. This view couldn’t be bottled it could only be earned. We had a schedule and had to move efficiently to reach it, but nature just kept tapping on our shoulders which made it tough to avoid stopping.
Our strategy was to fast-pack down the trail, which involves moving efficiently hiking and running and working with the terrain. We ran the more subtle declines and hiked the extremes to conserve energy for the toughest part of the day, the climb back up to the South Rim. The Phantom Ranch served as an intermission. It sits at the base of the canyon and was the lowest point on our journey (2,450 ft). I’m not sure what I was expecting at Phantom Ranch, but it surely didn’t involve the shadow of darkness that greeted me at the campground entrance. It caught me by surprise and chilled my soul.
We crossed the Colorado River on the Silver Bridge and began the dauntingly steep nine-mile climb up to the South Rim. At this point, the reality of the journey began to set in. The Bright Angel Trail is a series of switchbacks that weave straight up the side of the canyon. The higher we climbed, the harder it was to breathe, but the view certainly made up for it. Although my legs were faltering, my mind was racing with thoughts of my father, memories shared and how much he would have enjoyed the trip. He worked day and night to provide for the family and I think he would be happy to see us celebrating his life.
As the sun was setting, so too was our journey. I looked back and a flood of emotion filled my mind. I could see the North Rim and the magnitude of just how far we had come. It was as if my father was standing on the edge with us smiling and gently letting go. Our family journeyed to the depths and it was time to climb out of the canyon and celebrate the man that did so much for so many. It is the uncertainty of the unknown that fuels my fears, but it is my father’s spirit that leads me to unveil the mysteries of life.
**I want to thank everyone who supported the team and donated to Rim2Rim4Roy. I also want to thank my brother Scott for having the courage to take on this adventure is his busy life, my sister Wendy and mother Doris who were there with us in spirit, Jeff McMahon and Jennifer Brusstar from Team McGraw and Tug, for giving us reason to reach beyond our limits. And finally, I'd like to thank my husband John Bingham, who supported us every step of the way. He is the best life crew a girl could want.
100% of the funds raised will go to the Tug McGraw Foundation and enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease. Tug McGraw continues to inspire and help improve the quality of life for brain tumor survivors and their families. Rim2Rim4Roy was created to honor his mission and celebrate his life.