Weekend Warm-Up: The Grand Canyon Almost Kills a Hiking Influencer

Lo-fi hiker footage captures the imagination.

I’m not here to wax speculative on why that is, though I think it’s something to do with backpacking stereotypes — dirt under the fingernails and encrusted Ranch Style Beans goop between the tines of a fork.

But man, watching grainy footage of men struggling in the wilderness feels near and dear.

If that’s you, too, get ready for a low-tech adventure in suffering.

The brief: While on a 70km, rim-to-rim trip in the Grand Canyon, hiking influencer Dan Becker gets smoked by a “rare, life-threatening muscle injury where your muscles break down” and you urinate blood. His partner, Eric Hanson, tries to deal with it in a remote area.

It’s 5:04 am and a brisk -9˚C when the camera starts rolling. Becker’s under a tarp tent, unseen but audibly suffering. Headlamp light illuminates bleak footage.

“Dan’s not doin’ good,” Hanson says. Shortly, he decides to call in the heavies.

“Tell ’em I puked,” Becker says, off-screen. “Tell ’em I barfed.”

“Yeah, you barfed pretty good, man!” Hanson replies.

Even if you’ve never had rhabdomyolysis (and chances are very good that you haven’t), it’s easy to relate to the two hikers’ predicament. If you can get past any sensation of being mortally afraid for them, it’s easy to relate to their senses of humor as they navigate this dangerous situation.

After Hanson hangs up with the rescue dispatcher — whose assessment of the situation is less than promising — Becker jokes, “This would be Epic Trails’ best episode!” referring to Hanson’s channel.

For my money, he’s right.

It’s easy to get caught up in the self-invented gamesmanship of hiking. Especially when you fold in an ultralight approach, as Becker and Hanson often do.

But saving grams and cutting your toothbrush in half must, at some point, lead to an adventure worthy of such minute scrutiny. And that means pushing the limits of what you can and can’t realistically do. (Or live through.)

At the risk of under-selling Becker’s and Hanson’s competency, they’re both solid for just about any 70km hike. Most content creators win their bread and butter when things go according to plan. But big scores usually lurk around the corner from total catastrophes.

So watch the gentlemen enjoy themselves here against scenic Grand Canyon backdrops, shooting ordinary hiking footage — until they’re not.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.