Kim and Cindy Holt, known for their entertaining stories about their adventurous horseback rides, began a new journey on September 5. They walked their horses on the Winter Road to get accustomed to the altitude. Then they rode the Arizona Trail in northern Arizona. Their destination was Patagonia, but the journey was interrupted after ten days when they were stopped at Grand Canyon where the trail had been washed out by rains and was too dangerous for horses. They are now taking a respite before returning to their stopping point to continue their journey.

When they set out, their goal was to survive as the Apaches did, or as closely as possible. They marvel that they feel better now than when they left. Although they were unable to hunt rabbits since they were traveling through a wildlife preserve, Kim and Cindy lived for seven days on grasshoppers and edible plants. They discovered that grasshoppers sauteed in olive oil and the available edible plants at varied elevations did more than just keep them going.

Before Cindy left, she could barely walk three miles as she is missing cartilage in one knee. They walked ten miles a day–and one day 17 miles. Cindy now has more flexibility in her knee than when she started. They both carried packs of about 20 pounds.

For the first three days they followed a transition diet of summer sausage and avocados, the only foods they brought with them besides apples for the horses. They added prickly pear cactus (nopales) at this lower altitude. Since they forgot to bring the book they were studying on edible plants, they needed to rely on what they could remember. On the fourth day at a higher elevation, they ate dandelions, plantains, a few small rose hips and grasshoppers sauteed in olive oil–about ten a day, which they said were delicious.

It rained for three days. “We couldn’t make a fire one day, and we were soaking wet. It seemed like fall already and we were shaking and felt cold, but we never crossed the line of going into hypothermia,” Cindy recounted. But one evening as they sat near their campfire, they met someone who nearly did cross that line.

A man came running into their camp yelling that he was dying. Nearly naked, he had taken off all his clothing except for shorts and tennis shoes. They described him as overweight, soaking wet and panicked. They learned that he was a survival instructor, but apparently doing all the wrong things. He had left his pack behind, had no more drinking water, and lost his GPS. Fortunately, a rancher who was passing by on a nearby road was able to give him a ride.

Cindy and Kim are enthusiastic about returning to complete their journey. Though they have frequently encountered obstacles in their rides, they are never discouraged. For them, it’s not the accomplishment or outcome that matters, but the experience and the enjoyment of the adventure.

Binx’s Postscript to the Trip

Both Kim and Cindy lost weight, almost a pound a day. This process of weight loss provided them with over 2000 calories per day, along with 400 calories from the olive oil, wild plants and grasshoppers. The 2400 calories were about right for their level of exertion. A striking thing is their observation about how much better they felt after their journey. An arterial stiffness measurement on both Kim and Cindy showed that they are in very healthy condition, and both have arteries 20-25 years younger than their actual ages.

Based upon Kim and Cindy’s experiment, we are trying to convince the Gathering Grounds to add sautéed grasshoppers over greens to their lunch menu.