Beth Ulrich and Dan Bayers are long-time employees in Planning and Economic Development. Combined, they have nearly 60 years of service to the City of Saint Paul.
Dan and Beth have been part of a walking group at lunch for years. An average of four times a week, no matter the weather, they walk downtown over their lunch hour.
Dan and his sister had been planning to hike the Grand Canyon for a long time. They thought they could go down, camp one night, then come back the next morning. For five years in a row they applied for a camping permit, but did not get in as there is a limited supply.
Eventually they decided to do it all in a day. No camping meant no overnight equipment required, which made for an easier, faster hike.
Dan mentioned to Beth that he and his sister had their plan in place. Beth wanted to go too – in fact, her sister wanted to go along! So, it became a four-person adventure.
Beth did a lot of reading and research. The hike from the North Rim to the South Rim is 24.5 miles in length, with another two miles added for descent and ascent. Nearly all accounts of “average hikes” indicated that the last six miles were usually brutal.
They prepared by months of training. Dan’s hikes ranged from 7 to 24 miles depending on the day, including training carrying 19-pound packs at Afton Hills. Beth and her sister trained on the Stillwater Stairs – 12 circuits equal a mile. Dan’s sister, who lives in Denver, has hiked the Colorado Trail for two weeks so was more than ready. The rest of the group flew out a week in advance to acclimate to the altitude. Beth and her sister hiked Bryce and Zion Canyons first to get some practice.
The group was also prepared for emergencies: for example, they had a filtration system at the ready in case water lines were not open.
They began at 5:30 am, when it was still dark. For the first hour, they could only see about a foot in front of them. Twelve and a half hours later they arrived at the top of the South Rim. Beth remembers being about three miles into that last six when she realized “This is not so bad!” It turned out they had trained so well that none of them got even the tiniest sore muscle.
Laughing, they agreed the worst part was Beth slowing them all down by having to repeatedly tie her shoelaces.