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Crossing the Canyon: Anne’s Story

by Lucia Parker on October 23, 2016 Comments Off on Crossing the Canyon: Anne’s Story

On October 11, 2016 Anne Paparella and 17 others crossed the Grand Canyon on foot, in one day. Beginning on the North Rim 9,000 feet above sea level, we took our first steps into the canyon before dawn. Thirteen hours later as the sun set, the last of the team reached the South Rim on Bright Angel Trail. The journey was 23.5 miles and tested us against 10,000 feet of descent and ascent. As we hiked together, we shared our stories, hope and encouragement. Thank you, Anne, for sharing your reflections from the journey.

I was honored to begin this journey walking for my sister, Jenny.  As I trained and fundraised, it became so much bigger. In my community, I know so many people who have been affected by brain cancer, and I walked in honor and memory of them.


Anne wore this shirt, covered in the names of those she walked for, in her Crossing the Canyon effort.

What were your first few steps into the Canyon on North Kaibab Trail like? How were you feeling? What were you thinking about?

 I was so excited to be part of this group. I was nervous but felt ready to descend!
Anne in the early dawn light of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Anne stops for a photo in the early dawn light of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Describe the most difficult part of this experience. How did you get through it?

 The most difficult part of Crossing the Canyon was ascending Bright Angel Trail. The altitude caused breathing issues. I decided it didn’t matter how long it took, that I would make it out. I concentrated on the next step, one foot at a time and tried not to look at how far I had to go, but focus on how far I had come.

Susan, Rob, Anne, Lucia and Carly (plus Maria, behind the camera!) in the last few miles of Bright Angel Trail.

What was it like taking your last few steps out of the Grand Canyon on Bright Angel Trail?

 The last few steps on Bright Angel Trail were so amazing, it was still light but the sun was setting. It felt like miles to go and then we were there. I was so proud of myself and humbled by the challenge. I could not have done it without the support and encouragement of my little group.

What do you think you’ll carry with you from Crossing the Canyon 2016?

 Crossing the Canyon was the most difficult physical challenge I have ever been part of. It made me realize how grateful I am to be able to walk and climb and have great health. I truly loved this experience and was honored to be with so many determined people. I felt loved and supported by my community back home too. What a gift to be able to spend time with my sister and niece and to meet so many lovely people along the trail.
Maria and Anne stop for a photo early in the morning on the North Rim.

Maria and Anne stop for a photo early in the morning on the North Rim.

Lucia ParkerCrossing the Canyon: Anne’s Story