Dave Meets *M*A*S*H at Chicago Marathon!

OK, it’s tough, but I will say it. I had to drop out of the Chicago Marathon after 21 miles due to severe cramping. I tried everything I could to keep moving, but in the end I felt that covering the last five miles in the 80 plus degree weather could have been very dangerous to my health.

They put me on a shuttle back to the finish line. On the shuttle I could not sit as the cramping was horrible. I almost vomited on the shuttle. It was a terrible, bumpy ride that seemed to take forever.

When they dropped me at the finish area (Jackson and Lake Shore Drive), I felt so sick, I could not even walk. A medical official saw me and put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me into the medical tent. They took my vitals. Seems as though I lost at least five pounds during the race. That is roughly two liters of water weight. BAD.

There were sick people all over the place. Looked like the MASH unit from TV. They should have given me IV fluids but they said since my BP and pulse were fine, they just wanted me to eat and drink.  The cramps were getting worse. They asked me to lie down on a medical cot. Two massage therapists came over to me and tried to help me. I was in tears from the pain.

This was not a good experience. I had just completed a 48 mile backpacking trip in Grand Canyon and I could not complete the Chicago Marathon.

Race conditions had started at green, but quickly went to yellow and then to red as the temps soared. The sun was so hot, I guess I was not able to keep up. Sorry, but 80 plus degrees is just too hot for me personally to run a marathon. Better to drop out than to end up in a morgue. Thanks for all of your concern, especially friends and readers that were tracking my run. I am feeling better now.

One thing though. I will never give up. I will waddle on well into the future. I simply know to stay away from HOT marathons!

Four Days Until 10/10/10 – Chicago!

Yes, according to my calendar and watch I have about four days and ten hours before the starting gun sounds at the beginning of the Chicago Marathon. Am I ready? Yes, I am ready to finish! To complete the marathon, one needs a combination of physical and mental readiness. I think my body is ready for the run and as usual I am feeling a little mental so I should be OK!

This is going to be a test because as you know there will only be a two week time span between the time I completed my 48 mile hike in the Grand Canyon and the Chicago Marathon. I am hoping for the best.

The marathon is very emotional. I remember crying at least three times during last years’s run. I am not even sure why. I just did. And I probably will this year.

There is music along the course that relates to the run. Can you guess what song they were playing at the start last year? A prize to the person that guesses it. No fair if you were in the race though!

Waddle on!

The Rewards of the Marathon

I have just completed ironing words on the shirt I will be wearing in the Chicago Marathon this Sunday.

The front simply says “DAVE.” That’s so as I run, every spectator on the 26.2 mile course will see my name and yell “GO DAVE!” This will hopefully give me the energy I will need to complete the race!

The back says “The rewards of the marathon cannot be measured by a stopwatch.” How true this is. I am not out to win this race. Nor am I out to have a fast time. This is a lifestyle, and my goal is to finish the race comfortably so that I will be able to run the next one. And the next one.

Waddle on my friends!

Next Up: 10/10/10!

As I am still recovering from my 48 mile backpack in Grand Canyon, I was just reminded that exactly a week from today is the Chicago Marathon which I will be running. I did a seven mile run this morning and felt great. Probably lots of strength left in my legs and lungs from the backpack. Anyway, as you know from my previous writings, I am not out to win the marathon; my goal is to finish comfortably. Or fairly comfortably. Or alive. Whatever comes first!

This week is a very busy week for me at work so I will not get a lot of running in. But I wouldn’t want to anyway as generally the week before a marathon, I like to rest my legs.

I leave Friday morning for Chicago. It’s one of my favorite cities. I’m just praying for good weather. In the meantime, I’m just gettin’ things done this week. Just a lot of stuff I need to take care of. And if I don’t get to take care of stuff, most likely no one will ever care.

What are you doing right now to be healthy? If you have followed my blog and read my book, you already know the two most important things you can do are to exercise and eat smaller portions. The two keys to healthy life! Well, there are more things, but those are two very important ones. Are you doing both of them? If you are, you are doing better than most.

Waddle on!

Some Pics From Rim to Rim to Rim in Grand Canyon

If you are on Facebook, please go to http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2095354&id=1337207784&ref=mf to see a bunch of really cool pics from my 48 mile hike in the Grand Canyon! It was so nice meeting so many cool people along the way. I am still working on getting my book started. I have been just so darn busy since my return, it has been slow going. But don’t worry, it will  be worth the wait!  Peace.

48 Miles Hiking in the Grand Canyon – Oh My!

Yes, I did it! I hiked rim to rim to rim in the Grand Canyon successfully. That is me in the above picture – the tall guy, second from the right. It took six days and five nights backpacking and sleeping outside in campsites along the way. This was one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. I will have a link to some really cool pics and videos real soon so stay tuned. In the meantime, what are you doing right now to be healthy?

Going “Down” Tomorrow Morning

I will be embarking on my six day hike into the Grand Canyon tomorrow morning so I will be out of touch until after that. I hope you all have a very nice week and please continue doing all of the things you need to do to live your healthiest lifestyle!

T Minus 48 Hours

Leaving today for my six day rim to rim to rim backpack trip in the Grand Canyon. My plane leaves in about four hours for Phoenix. My team and I are ready. Yoko, Larry, Lew and I are leaving from Baltimore. Landi is leaving from Detroit and we will all meet up in Phoenix. From there we will take the three plus hour drive to Grand Canyon Village. This is really exciting. Sure I am a little nervous. We have a lot of hiking ahead of us! The hike begins in a little over 48 hours.

It’s Not the Distance, It’s the Lifestyle!

I just received an email from a reader who felt like she was not accomplishing very much because she was only running a couple miles at a time. My response to her was this:

“It’s not the distance. It’s the lifestyle.”

Get out and do something! Our bodies are designed to move! And feel free to post the above affirmation somewhere where you will see it every day!

I am leaving for The Grand Canyon in a couple days to hike it rim to rim to rim! This is going to be a very awesome experience which will be the basis for my upcoming book, “Steps In the Canyon.”

Talk to you later…

The Grand Canyon Can Be a Dangerous Place

In just over two months from now, I plan to do a six day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. I, along with a team of five other hikers will start at the South Kaibab trailhead on the south rim of the canyon, hike one mile deep into the inner gorge, cross the Colorado River, ascend all the way to the north rim, and then turn around and come all the way back. This is called a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike and it is something that I have wanted to do for years.

In order to complete a hike like this, proper preparation and attention to every detail is mandatory. I will need to carry all of my food, water, and camping supplies, which will amount to wearing a backpack that weighs in the 35-40 pound range. And my body will need to be in tiptop shape to take me up and down steep hills, across a few sheer ledges and over rough terrain in a potentially very hot, dry desert environment.

I am a believer that one can do practically anything in life if you prepare properly. I have done about ten backpacking trips in Grand Canyon and numerous day hikes over many trails. I know the dangers of hiking there and because of my experience I know how to train and prepare to maximize the probability that my team and I will be successful.  And most importantly, I am smart enough to know my limits. I am not Superman!

For quite some time now I have been teaching people how to live their healthiest and happiest lives possible. Proper preparation in life is essential, not just in training for an athletic or endurance event, but also in all aspects of life. If you want to undertake something difficult and challenging, as long as you know what you are getting into and you are prepared, you most likely will be OK. Not knowing exactly where you are going and getting in over your head can have potentially devastating consequences.

Let me give you a great non-athletic, real life business example. This really happened. First a little background information is in order. Some of you may know that I co-founded a business a while ago with my brother Rich. Since we are both dentists by profession, our dream was to help other dentists reach higher levels of success in their practices and their lives. Twenty-one years later, our company The Madow Group is one of the leading educators and practice builders for dentists in the United States!

A few months ago I had something very strange take place. Two of our employees resigned suddenly without notice. It was a total surprise. Shocking. After all, why would two seemingly intelligent men who I considered to be friends of mine leave relatively high paying jobs in an economy such as this? As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t figure it out.

When the dust settled, we found out that our friends had been copying our business ideas for months (while employed by us) with the intent of opening a similar business of their own. At first I was devastated. How could two individuals that I put so much trust in do such a dishonorable thing?  I was incredulous that this could actually happen. Rich and I worked too hard for all of these years to have two of our friends cheat us like this.

Anyway, having thought about this whole situation quite a bit, I always come back to my Grand Canyon training program. And here’s why. As I said earlier, every time I backpack in the Grand Canyon, I know exactly what is ahead of me and I am confident that I will be ready for obstacles. I am experienced.

Just the opposite for my two friends that left me to copy what we are doing. You see, there are a few potential “obstacles” that they may not have ever thought about before they made this decision. And more likely than not, they are not prepared for what is ahead.

A seasoned hiker makes it look so easy because he or she has hiked before and knows what to expect. Rich and I make our business look easy because we have been doing it for over twenty years.  We have a large base of doctors that know us and do business with us. I believe we have a pretty good reputation among dentists.

But getting to where we are now did not come easy. It cost us a ton of money and a lot of headaches and sweat over a twenty-one year period. And if we were to try to start this same business today, I am not so sure it would be possible. Times are so very different.

And remember one of the most important points. Rich and I are dentists. We are professionals. We have gone through the pains of dental school and the process of building up practices. We are colleagues to our customers. We are one of them. Contrast that to my two buddies that are attempting to copy. They are not dentists and are total unknowns in the dental profession. One is an ex-home improvement guy and the other is a flooring industry guy. Doesn’t seem to mesh with dentists, does it?  They have NO EXPERIENCE nor do they have the talent to do what we do. But have they taken this into consideration? It appears as though they have not.

Sure, it’s always easy when we start our backpacking trip on the rim. We all feel great at the start. But the long enduring trek through the hot and dry desert is not for the timid.  And getting back to the business example, my two friends have not trained properly for what lies ahead in the canyon. They do not have the proper equipment or supplies. I would never attempt anything like they are doing without knowing what is ahead. Without water, food and energy to get where we need to go, we die.

If I attempted my Grand Canyon hike totally untrained, I would perhaps last a short time until I realized that I could not complete it. Same with business or anything else you may attempt. If you have not prepared properly, your food, water and energy will be depleted. Your legs will be tired. Your back will be sore from carrying the heavy packs. And sooner, rather than later, you will succumb to the hot, dry desert.

Please promise me that before undertaking a tremendous challenge, you will research and train properly. That’s all I ask. I am not telling you not to take risks or challenges in your life. I take them all the time. But I do not want you, my friend, to ever make such a big mistake in life that you cannot recover from like my two buddies have done. Do you promise?

Here’s a great summer tip for staying thinner!

You may think that athletes like myself are immune from gaining weight. Totally not true! As much running, hiking, skiing, and working out in the gym as I do, I still can gain weight. A few months ago I actually got to a weight that sent a signal to my senses telling me this is a little too much.

So what did I do?

I cut my meal portions down. This strategy works every time. As I have sad in previous articles here, I truly believe that eating right is the key to maintaining your proper weight, which translates into looking and feeling your absolute best.

I can’t tell you enough that chances are you are eating more than you need to be eating. Just about every person that I know eats about one third to one half more food than they should. It’s simply because we are creatures of habit. We have always been taught to fill our plates up and finish everything on them.

I am going to give you a challenge. If you feel that you need to lose weight, I would like you to decrease your eating by one third to one half starting right now. What does this mean? It’s actually pretty simple! Just eat one third to one half less than you eat now. If you eat eggs and toast for breakfast, prepare two eggs instead of three. Or go from two to one egg. Instead of two pieces of toast, have one or one and a half. I promise you that you will not starve.

For lunch, eat a half sandwich instead of a whole. Again, you will not fade away to nothing. I weigh 194 pounds (I am 6’2″) and I NEVER eat a whole sandwich. If I can do this, so can you. If you are absolutely starved between meals, eat a teaspoon of peanut butter. I have found this to work wonders. Not half a jar, just a teaspoon!

I have lost close to ten pounds in the last two to three months by a combination of exercising (I do this all year round) and reduced eating. Never succumb to large restaurant portions or buffets. I went to a party yesterday where there was a HUGE brunch buffet. Everyone was pigging out like crazy. The omelet chef almost lost it when I politely asked for ONE single egg over medium. But as everyone left the buffet feeling sick, I felt like I wanted to hit the gym.

I swear to you, eat half portions starting NOW and you will have the final say because you will look and feel better than you have in years! Here is to your health!

By the way, my book “Impress The World With Your Body in SEVEN Days” is doing fantastic since its release as an eBook. Thousands of you have read it. For a limited time it is available to you as a FREE download! Click HERE for your free download.  Just keep it in mind should you ever need a gift for that special person, the hardcover is available on Amazon!

To Lose Weight it Simply Comes Down to THIS!

I have run long distances and exercised like crazy and actually gained weight. I have seen marathon runners with pot-bellies. I have figured out after thirty-plus years of a healthy active lifestyle that in order to be thin, you must simply eat healthy and eat less. It may sound simple but it’s the truth. In my estimation, the average American eats from about 50-100% more than they should. Starting today promise yourself fresh, whole foods and smaller portions. I’m telling you, this is what it takes! Do you want to be thin? Then trust me!  Dave

The Winners Are NOT the Ones That Finish First Anymore

I have been living a healthy lifestyle for way more than thirty years now. I think it’s safe to say that I have become somewhat of an authority of what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to exercise and eating. I have seen it all and done it all. Time is probably the best test to see if something works or not. And after thirty years of working on this, I have time on my side.

As many of you know from reading my book as well as my blog, I am a runner. Not a fast runner, but a runner nonetheless!

I have two road races coming up the next two weekends that I am really excited about. I will be in San Francisco running the Bay to Breakers 12K this coming Sunday (May 16). This is technically a race, although many would refer to it as a seven and a half mile party, complete with naked and costumed runners! Yes, it’s true! I had heard about this race way back in the 70’s but I did not start running it until last year. If you are not a runner, you can walk it as well. Plenty of people do just that! It’s going to be a lot of fun. Actually, most events that involve getting outdoors and moving your body are fun. You just gotta get into it!

Secondly, the following weekend, I will be running in the MD Half Marathon. This is a little of a more serious race, meaning there probably won’t be naked and costumed runners! It’s 13.1 miles long – a great workout.

If you are going to be looking for me at either race, please look towards the back of the pack. I will not be in the first half of the finishers, that’s a guarantee! Because of my speed, many people would not consider me a winner. How wrong they are. When these races are over,  I will consider myself one of the biggest winners in the fields. I am 55 years old now and people still say I look 10-20 years younger than my age. I feel great. I am much thinner than the average person my age. I have never had a serious injury exercising. I smile the entire way. How much more of a winner can one be than that?

I hope you will be able to catch me at either event. Please say hello!

By the way, the MD Half Marathon is being run for a fantastic cause – cancer research. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to make a donation of any size, please feel free to visit my half marathon page by clicking HERE!

Waddle on!

Here’s What to Do if You Had a Tough Winter (Like I Did)!

Well, it wasn’t really a “tough” winter. Just a “different” winter!

I found myself a condo in Breckenridge, Colorado and stayed there the entire month of January to ski and work. Many of my friends thought I was there on vacation for the entire month. No, it was NOT a vacation. Just a change of scenery where I could do my writing and my work. Coincidentally, they had some  big mountains that had slippery white stuff all over them, so I could not resist fastening the two long planks to my boots so that I could easily glide downhill for a good part of every day!

Living in Breck for the month was great. It’s a very healthy lifestyle and most likely due to all of the skiing, I actually lost eight pounds or so.I loved every second of it!

That was January. When I got home back east a few strange things started happening to me. First of all, I took a pretty bad fall at a ski area in Pennsylvania (in an icy mogul field). Well, I didn’t think it was a bad fall at the time, but my right leg still does not feel perfect six weeks later. And not only am I dealing with a bum leg, but for some reason a few weeks ago all of the muscles in my body seemed to be aching. This aching really has had me puzzled. I imagined that I was coming down with some type of rare muscle disease and my skiing, running and backpacking days would be numbered. Very scary thought.

What I really think has been going on is that a low level virus just kind of decided to settle in my muscles. Every one of them. I don’t know why it picked me but it did.

The good news is that I think it’s going away. Every day it seems as though there is less and less pain.

Why am I telling you this? The main reason is for you to see that as much as I am into health and fitness, I want you to see that I too am nothing but a human being, vulnerable to any of the crazy stuff that life can throw at us.

But I also want to describe to you what I did during this tough time to help myself get through it.

First thing I did was to continue with my daily supplements that I take. As many of you know, I am not a big believer in taking tons of supplements and making the vitamin companies rich. But I do take a few every day. I am planning to describe these in a future article (very soon) so please look out for that.

Secondly I seriously minimized my weight training simply to give my muscles a chance to rest. I think rest is good. Sometimes I feel guilty not going to the gym but my brain was telling me to give it a rest.

I did keep up my walking and running program. I have a couple of races coming up in May and I felt it was important to keep up my aerobics as well as keeping my legs moving. I am desperately trying to stick to my rule of moving at least four miles at a time, although there were several times I had to limit my mileage to two or three.

I am now pretty confident that I am out of the woods with the worst of the pain and I am going to step up my mileage in order to prepare for the races I signed up for. I’ll be in San Francisco running the Bay to Breakers 12K on May 16 and then back in Baltimore running the Maryland Half Marathon on May 23.

Remember friends, I am not a fast runner. One of the reasons I am still able to run, when many fast, elite runners tend to get injured and stop, is because I have been slow and steady my entire life. I simply keep covering the distance that keeps me healthy! That’s it! So please, when you get out to run or walk, you do not have to be competitive. This is a lifestyle that I want you to be able to keep up until you are 101 years old!

By the way, looking ahead, I am signed up for the 2010 Chicago Marathon which will take place on 10/10/10! I ran it in 2009 and it was one of the coolest experiences in my life. I understand they just closed registration because the maximum of 45,000 runners has been reached. So that’s why I gotta keep moving, even if I am not feeling 100%.

What about you? How was your winter? Did you gain a few pounds? Are you ready to start getting back into better shape. I know you can do it my friend.

Please remember these two words: never quit!

I am David Madow (The Seven Day Guy) and I look forward to talking to you soon. In the meantime, please feel free to ask me any questions right here on this page or email me at rundrdave@gmail.com.

David Madow Explains Why He Loves The Grand Canyon, part 2

This article is from the vaults of my previous Grand Canyon blog. Because of its popularity, I did not want to delete it. Please enjoy!

I saw some very sad news this morning. After a multi-day search, the body of a 69 year old man was recovered near the Hermit Trail in Grand Canyon National Park. The article did not state the reason for the man’s death, but my guess would be hyperthermia/heat stroke, trauma/fall, or some type of heart failure. As you may know, I am so closely connected to the Grand Canyon. And when I hear news like this I feel terrible.

I have hiked on the Hermit Trail and it is definitely a very difficult strenuous trail. Not only is it very steep; there are several areas of washouts and rockslides. What this means is that you could be joyfully hiking along this trail when all of a sudden you come to a wide-open part that is totally covered by rocks. So unless you have some route finding experience in the canyon, I could absolutely see how it would be easy to actually go off trail and get lost.  As an aside, a few years ago when I was on a backpacking expedition in the Grand Canyon, I remember one person in our group actually crying when we reached the bottom of the Hermit. She ended up doing totally fine, but I think it was a more difficult trail than she had anticipated!

Getting lost in the Grand Canyon is no joke. It could be deadly. Because once you are off trail, everything pretty much looks alike, and it’s very possible to keep wandering the wrong way and get yourself into serious trouble.

You may have read my previous blog entitled “David Madow Explains Why He Loves the Grand Canyon.” In that entry I talked about my bad experiences in the Grand Canyon. And all of those were on highly traveled, clearly marked trails. Once you take it to the next level on a trail such as the Hermit, it is a totally different ballgame. You really need to be totally prepared for anything.

So many people get into trouble while hiking into the backcountry of the Grand Canyon, and the crazy thing is that almost every bit of it is preventable. That’s the reason I go back to the Grand Canyon every summer to help as a PSAR (Preventive Search and Rescue) volunteer. Out of everything I have done in my life, helping people in the Canyon is one of the most fulfilling. Prevention, by simply asking hikers on the trail what their plans are, can go a long way!!

Generally the way it works when I am volunteering is I get assigned an area on a trail where I need to “hang out” for the day. It generally would be on either the Bright Angel or South Kaibab trails. Sounds like fun but remember, I need to get to the assigned spot and there are no escalators or elevators, which means I need to hike down to wherever I need to be with a backpack. And although my backpack is not as heavy as if I were spending multiple days on the trail, I still need to carry plenty of food, water, electrolytes, safety equipment, etc. which does indeed weigh it down a bit! And I do this in the summer so it is very possible for the temperature to climb close to 100 degrees in the middle of the day.

Last summer I was on assignment at the Three Mile House, which is three miles down the Bright Angel Trail. The Three Mile House can get fairly crowded in the middle of the summer as hikers on their way down as well as on their way up like to stop there for a place to rest, eat and drink out of the direct sunlight. I remember it was a fairly hot day, probably around ninety degrees when an uphill hiker approached me and told me that there was a woman down the trail just a bit heading up this way that was in distress.

I immediately made my way down the trail about fifty yards or so and encountered a woman who appeared to be in her sixties who looked like she had had it. She just looked horrible. As it turned out, she was hiking out from a multi-day trip with her son and daughter-in-law. The son told me that his mom was exhausted and had been vomiting. By the way, vomiting happens to be one of the symptoms of hyperthermia.

I slowly hiked them up to the Three Mile House and found a little area where the woman, whose name was Carol, could lie down. But before she lay down I gave her some crackers (always think salty) and some Gatorade to help get some electrolytes back in her. While she was resting, I got on my radio and called up to the rim for help. Or at least some advice. What they told me was to let Carol rest for several hours, make sure she eats and drinks, and when the sun starts to set and the temperature begins to get cooler, she should try to hike out.

We waited and waited. I made sure Carol was getting fluids and food. Carol was showing some signs of improvement but I knew she was exhausted. And I also knew she still had three very difficult uphill miles on the Bright Angel Trail to go before she would be done.

At about 3PM we got lucky. A cloud cover started to appear. The sun was obscured, causing the temperature to go down by about ten degrees. I figured this was the time. We had about a four hour window before darkness. I asked Carol if she thought she could start walking and she said yes. I told her that I would hike up with her, her son and daughter-in-law. Since I carried a radio, plenty of water and food, I knew I could be a source of help and encouragement.

The going was very slow. Carol felt tired. She felt sick. And I knew she was dehydrated. Problem is, when one is in that situation, the last thing they really feel like doing is eating or drinking. The reason is that all of the blood leaves the stomach to go to the muscles and the brain, which makes you not feel like eating. So I had to insist that Carol eat and drink a little bit at a time along the way.

Carol was a good person. I could tell she felt terribly embarrassed about her situation. She kept apologizing for troubling me. I told her not to worry, that I would get her up safely. But in the back of my mind I was very worried that she would go into severe hyperthermia, which could be very serious. One of the things that ended up helping quite a bit was that I would continually spray water all over her face and head with a spray bottle that I carried.

The most worrisome time came when we were close to the top and she was throwing up and had a bout of diarrhea. That is never good. But we were so close. It was getting dark at this point, so I had an idea. First, Carol’s son and I put on our headlamps so we could see better. Then we had Carol get in between us and we literally carried her up the final quarter mile or so.

When we arrived at the top, I made sure Carol got medical attention immediately. She was taken to the hospital in Flagstaff, treated for dehydration and ultimately released. Carol and I have been in touch ever since. She tells me that she believes I saved her life. I am not sure. I was just someone who happened to be there at the right time to help a wonderful woman.

This is just one very small sample of incidents that happen basically every day in the Grand Canyon. It is very hot. It is steep. It is very difficult to calculate the difficulty of hiking there. Carol got off lucky. The 69 year old man on the Hermit Trail was not so lucky. Please be careful.

David Madow Explains Why He Loves the Grand Canyon

This article is from the vaults of my previous Grand Canyon blog. Because of its popularity, I did not want to delete it. Please enjoy!

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, one of my favorite places on the planet is the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. Whenever you see my postings, status updates, tweets, etc., they oftentimes revolve around that tremendous hole in the earth. I thought I would take a few minutes to let those that are interested know how I became so much in love with the Grand Canyon and why I travel there several times every year from my home back east.

I guess it all started many years ago when I was taking a cross-country trip by car and first saw the Grand Canyon. I was viewing it from the south rim as I thought all visitors did. But during that visit I happened to notice an occasional person wandering around with a backpack and dusty hiking boots, which led me to believe that there was another way to actually see this big crack in the earth – perhaps a better way!

As much as I wanted to venture down right then, I was by no means equipped to hike right there at that visit, but it was at that point that I said to myself “I will be back sometime in the future to actually hike down into the canyon!”

A few years later I was back at Grand Canyon with a friend and we decided that we would hike down the Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River and back up in one day. This would be about a fifteen mile round trip. Doing this hike in one day was supposedly very dangerous and not recommended by the officials in the park. There were signs all over the place warning against attempting to do this. Some of the signs said that “YOU CAN DIE” if you attempt this. But we were young and in good shape and we simply figured the literature and the signs were referring to the average out of shape older person and didn’t apply to us.

We disregarded the advice and went down. Totally unprepared I may add. I won’t go into all of the details but let’s just say I was very lucky to have made it out alive. I’m sure I was totally dehydrated, my legs were cramping up and most likely some degree of moderate heat exhaustion. Oh, by the way, did I tell you this was July and we hiked in the middle of the day where the temperature in the inner gorge goes well above 100 degrees? ALL steep uphill (7.5 miles) on the way up! This was stupidity to say the least.

I swore I would never return to the Grand Canyon.

Fast forward two years. Time has a way of erasing the bad memories. I came back. This time the plan made a little more sense. We would hike down to Phantom Ranch, stay overnight, and then return to the rim the next day.

Phantom Ranch is a little oasis at the very bottom of the canyon where you can actually sleep in a bed in a hostel like setting. And you can get a meal as well. Sounds great, right?

Well the first mistake was that we went back in the summer again. The second mistake was that we started our hike down at about 9:00 AM because we wanted to have a nice leisurely breakfast and screw around on the rim before we ventured down. This would put us hiking during the absolute hottest part of the day. The third mistake was that we took the wrong trail down. The Bright Angel Trail, which we took, is roughly two miles longer than the preferred trail for descending into the canyon, the South Kaibab trail. The fourth mistake was that we had absolutely no idea how to properly eat and hydrate on the trail in a hot dessert environment.

I’m sure you can guess what the outcome was.

Yes, before we reached the bottom, I felt as if I were going to die. I was sick to my stomach, cramping, fatigued and, well… I think you get the picture. I literally ended up crawling into Phantom Ranch wishing I were dead. What ended up happening was that the staff and ranger down there saw what kind of terrible shape I was in and allowed me to stay an extra night at Phantom to rest, eat, drink and hopefully ultimately be OK to hike back out of the canyon.

But even on that third morning when I was attempting to hike out, I felt absolutely awful and was afraid that I’d never make it up the 9.6 mile trail which would gain roughly a vertical mile. I did end up making it out. Barely. I can’t remember how long it took but it must have been at least 12 hours. It was horrible. I honestly thought I could have dropped dead from heat exhaustion. By the time I reached the top I was crying.

I vowed NEVER to return. And this time I MEANT IT!!!

But of course as you probably guessed, a few years later I was back! This time I tried again with a similar result that led to a “drag out.” A drag out means they took me out of the canyon on a mule. Let me tell you something… they do not normally like to evacuate hikers on mules. You have to be pretty darn sick for them to even consider a drag out. But they did. I guess I was sick (in more ways than one at this point). I ended up in the Grand Canyon Hospital (they call it a clinic but it sure looked like a hospital to me). I had doctors all around me and IVs stuck in my arms. They said I was terribly dehydrated. What a horrible experience. Just pure stupidity.

This time I was 100% positive I would not return. I realized that the Grand Canyon did not care one bit if David Madow died there. It tried three times to take David’s life without success. Let’s not give it another chance!

But come on, you may know that I am generally not a quitter. I realized if one keeps doing things the same way, one would generally get the same results. So after three failed attempts, I simply decided to study up on how I could successfully hike all the way into the canyon and then hike out with a smile on my face.

Without boring you with all of the details, I became familiar with electrolytes, and simply how much food and water it takes to hike. But not only how much food, but what type of food is best. I knew that my body does not do well in the heat, so I had to figure out what measures I could take to mitigate that problem.

After my research and a lot of thinking I came up with a goal. That goal would be to backpack down to the bottom and return to the rim safely. I would use the South Kaibab trail going down, which as I said earlier is the preferred route down to Bright Angel campground.

I decided to make the trip in April since it would be neither extremely hot nor extremely cold. I also planned to do the hike out of the canyon in two stages; stopping off at Indian Garden campground for the night, which is about the halfway point up the Bright Angel trail.

During this trip I was very cognizant about my eating and drinking. I would eat frequently and my hydration was water mixed with “Gookinade,” which is an electrolyte powder designed to replenish the salts lost through sweating. I walked slowly. And I took frequent breaks to rest my muscles.

The result was SUCCESS! I had absolutely no problem on this three-day backpack trip! I did it! I now felt that the canyon was my friend simply because I just took the time to figure it out!

Since that time, I have gone back every spring to backpack in the Grand Canyon. I challenge myself a little more each time. I have now gotten to the point where I have hiked some of the lesser traveled and more challenging trails such as the Tonto and Clear Creek trails.

Zoroaster Temple

Now I am able to actually look around, take pictures and enjoy the scenery when I hike. It is very hard to explain, but I feel so much at peace in this surrounding. I am hiking on rocks that are over a BILLION years old!

A couple of years ago I was traveling cross-country, helping my son Evan move to California. So of course we made the obligatory stop at Grand Canyon!  I wanted Evan to experience this unbelievable place. We were doing a day hike down to Plateau Point, and on the way out we came across a man at the mile and a half house who was wearing a shirt with a patch that said “Volunteer.”  We started chatting. His name was Ron Gould and he told me that he is a PSAR Volunteer. The PSAR stands for “Preventive Search and Rescue.”

Basically what Ron (and about thirty other PSAR volunteers do) is talk to hikers on the trail, find out what their plans are, and then assess as to whether or not they are equipped to do what they plan. The idea is to educate and help people so that they ultimately do not put themselves in a dangerous situation.

The Grand Canyon is a beautiful place but also can be a very dangerous place if you hike beyond your capability. Every year, many hikers become seriously ill or injured on the trail. Unfortunately some of these people die. With proper planning, many of these illnesses and deaths can be prevented.

I asked Ron how I could do what he is doing. After my near death experiences in the Grand Canyon, I felt as though I wanted to be able to give something back.  Ron gave me a number to call, which put me in touch with Bonnie Taylor, the head of the PSAR volunteer program.

When I got home, I immediately called Bonnie and explained my situation and my desire to volunteer. She was happy to have me and let me know that there is a mandatory training session the first Saturday in May for the next season.

That next May I was on the plane out to the Grand Canyon to participate. What a great group of dedicated people I found myself surrounded by. We spent the entire morning in a classroom learning all about hiking the backcountry in Grand Canyon. We learned about dehydration, heat exhaustion, hyponatremia (water toxicity), and a slew of other conditions and injuries. We also learned how to use a two-way radio to communicate with other rangers, search and rescue, and dispatch.

The afternoon was spent learning how to carry patients out of the canyon in a litter, and basic helicopter procedures should we ever be in a situation to assist with a helicopter evacuation. When the day was over I felt fairly confident that I would be able to help hikers on the trails both by preventing problems and assisting if they were to get into trouble. This was undoubtedly going to be one of the best experiences of my life!

Next: My work as a volunteer in PSAR (Preventive Search and Rescue) in Grand Canyon National Park.