GC VILLAGE — When it came to his 75th birthday, Laurent "Maverick" Gaudreau didn’t want to have only memories of blowing out candles and opening a few gifts. No, he’d rather do something that some men half his age could not do — go on a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon.
Laurent 'Maverick' Gaudreau takes a few notes at Roaring Springs on his rim-to-rim-to-rim hike in May.
"I wanted to do something for my 75th birthday," Gaudreau said. "I liked it so well, I’m going to do it twice next year, six days with six people."
On this trip, which came over the three-day period of May 2-4, Gaudreau found some challenges with the long hike. He left at 2 a.m. on May 2, heading down the South Kaibab Trail for Phantom Ranch. Once he reached Phantom, he enjoyed breakfast and was joined by a friend, Rutha Pryputniewicz.
Both Gaudreau and Pryputniewicz work at Grand Canyon. He’s worked at various jobs from volunteering at Indian Garden to working in interpretation at Plateau Point. She’s a cook at Phantom Ranch.
The pair headed up the North Kaibab Trail and stopped at Cottonwood Camp for the night. But Gaudreau found himself in pretty sore shape.
Gaudreau had prepared his backpack wrong with too much weight to one side. During one stretch on the first-day hike, it took him two hours to go 1.8 miles to the river. Finally, the backpack was adjusted and he used an anti-inflammatory to ease the pain. Still, he said he was "in bad shape by Cottonwood."
"Two things kept me going," he said. "First, I didn’t want to lose face with the people I told I would do this. And second, Rutha was carrying most of the weight down there."
From that point on, Gaudreau couldn’t complain about anything on the hike. The pair enjoyed the solitude of Grand Canyon on a hike up to the North Rim and then back down to Phantom Ranch.
"It was cool out and when we got up to the North Rim, it was snowing," he said. "It was a fabulous experience. From the time we left Cottonwood, we didn’t see anyone."
Gaudreau spent the night at Phantom Ranch and then finished the hike on May 4 by heading back up the South Kaibab Trail in five hours, 10 minutes. He celebrated his 75th birthday on May 8.
"The thing I really want to let people know is using an umbrella and a wet hand towel, it drips on my shirt, it’s a fabulous way of giving you a higher heat tolerance," Gaudreau said.
"I will probably climb Mount Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania) this summer with Bob Audretsch," he said. "Then I will do the Arizona Trail."