Copperas Cove woman completes 21-mile Grand Canyon hike, shares lessons in the journey
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A Copperas Cove woman has completed a milestone, that of completing a hike of the Grand Canyon, from rim to rim, approximately 21 miles.
Back in February, Cindy Crebo, 62, signed on and committed to the Oct. 7 hike with Phoenix-based organization Revelation Wellness (RevWell). The group calls its hike Rim to Him. Before hiking the canyon, she had to complete required training to be ready make the journey.
Crebo did much of her hike training in the Copperas Cove area, particularly up and down the steep hill at Ogletree Pass on the west side of the city. For Crebo’s final hill training session on the morning of Sept. 21, she trekked up and down Ogletree Pass a total of 22 times, which calculates to 14 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,000 feet.
“The training is no joke! It was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually intense, and I’ve got to tell you, RevWell knows what they’re doing! From the training to the logistics of getting us to the canyon, shepherding us in the canyon, coming out of the canyon, getting us all back to Phoenix, and all the ways the RevWell staff humbly ministered to us along the journey were exemplary,” Crebo said of the process.
Her hike on Friday, Oct. 7, down into the Grand Canyon and up again began and ended the same way —in the dark.
She was one of 45 hikers, accompanied by RevWell’s eight “shepherds” and aided by nine “hospitality angels.” They arrived at Mather Outlook in Grand Canyon National Park the day prior to the hike to see from the top what they would be traveling through the next day.
“Those of us who had never seen the Grand Canyon were invited to close our eyes and be led by the hand to the South Rim. When I opened my eyes and took into the vastness of the canyon my first thought was, ‘No way can I do this! Are you sure you want to meet me here, Lord?’” Crebo said. “I won’t lie. I felt a little bit scared!”
Before dawn, the hikers split into four squads according to the speed of their training hikes. Crebo said she was at the back of the pack, in squad four, and she could see the hikers, all wearing headlamps, as they descended ahead of her into canyon.
The trail took them down the edge of the South Rim, along Bright Angel Trail and across the Colorado River, then to the famous Phantom Ranch, and across the bottom of the canyon to Cottonwood Campground. The hike then continued up North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim.
Her journey took her more than 17 hours, and she witnessed the rising sun reflecting off the south canyon wall and saw the moon rise over the North Rim.
Crebo said in addition to reaching her goal, she also learned some life lessons on the trail. At one point, she said she could hear a voice below her on Bright Angel Trail.
“I heard a voice with a European accent gleefully saying, ‘77 switchbacks, ah-ha-ha-ha!’ (Think of The Count from Sesame Street). Just below me, a group led by their 91-year-old grandpa came into view. They seemed giddy with the joy of sharing this experience with him. As he lifted his smiling face to me, he said, ‘78 switchbacks, ah-ha-ha-ha!’ sharing this joy with me. My take-away: A positive attitude and humor is everything when you are facing hard things. This encounter inspired me and I remembered ‘The Count’ often when the going got tough.”
When they reached the Colorado River at the bottom, she remembered thinking, “Wow. I have reached the bottom. Remember, going down is optional, going up is mandatory.”
After a stop for hydration and rest, they continued on toward the hottest part of the journey known as the box, toward Cottonwood Campground. Crebo said the highs were in the 80s and low 90s, along Bright Angel Creek.
“I rounded a rock outcropping and was almost stopped in my tracks by a totally unexpected sight. Standing by the creek was a young man with a bright blue and yellow, wrinkle free, button up shirt and... rubber ducky shorts. After we said hello and passed him, my shepherd Megan said with a lift in her voice, ‘That made me smile!’” Crebo said. “My take-away: Do something unexpected to make someone smile. Your spirit will be lifted and so will theirs.
Starting the climb to the North Rim, she began feeling discomfort in one of her toes. She still had more than six miles to go and 5,000 feet of elevation to gain.
“I’m typically pretty tough and self-reliant and do not often ask for help. I stopped and asked Megan to look at my foot. She applied some moleskin and we geared up again,” Crebo said. “I did wind up with a blister under the moleskin but it stayed intact and without pain. My take-away: If something hurts pay attention! Ask for help and tend to that little hurt before it becomes crippling pain. This principle holds true for emotional pain as well as physical.”
At the end of the trail, she and squad four came out of the canyon late at night, and two RevWell shepherds were waiting for them.
“They embraced me in a warm blanket, drove me to the hospitality suite, and a hospitality angel gently washed my dirty, aching feet. Remembering it now brings tears to my eyes,” Crebo said. “My take-away: I am good at giving care and kindness. Sometimes I need to let my defenses down to receive the same. When people are going through hard things, even if they seem like they have it all together and can handle it on their own, stop for them. Offer them care and kindness. You will be remembered for it.”
She is grateful to her supporters who have followed her training.
“Many of you have followed my training and supported me as I have supported Revelation Wellness. You have stopped for me and offered care and kindness with your words of encouragement, your prayers, and your donations to Revelation Wellness, an organization whose work I am passionate about. Thank you for helping to make this amazing journey a reality,” she said.
The Rim to Him hike on Oct. 7 also raised approximately $70,000 through the hikers, who received donations on behalf of the nonprofit.
One of the things with Revelations Wellness does is make many of their online wellness programs and resources free and available to all.
Crebo said they also give back to other organizations. In 2021, the Phoenix, Arizona-based Revelation Wellness distributed more than $88,000 to charities and gave out $60,000 in wellness program scholarships. They donate to organizations such as Feeding America, the Seed Company, and Paradise Valley Food Bank.
Find out more about Revelation Wellness at https://www.revelationwellness.org/about.