Rancho Santa Fe 76-year-old plans Grand Canyon hike in memory of late wife

By Karen Billing

Robert Wood, a longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident, has decided to take on the challenge of crossing the Grand Canyon in one day, rim to rim. Wood, 76, will be making the 23.5-mile trek that works up to a 8,200 feet elevation on May 17.

That date holds special significance for Wood as it is the Norwegian Holiday of Freedom. He will carry three Norwegian flags for his two children, who are half Norwegian, and one in memory of his Norwegian wife who was killed by a drunk driver on Via de la Valle in 1997.

Wood said he was inspired to do the hike by an article in the Rancho Santa Fe Review last year about RSF Association Manager Pete Smith’s 20th time making the crossing with a group of 30 locals. He thought, “Maybe I can do that. Why, I am only 76 years old!”

With help and advice from Smith, RSF’s Deana Ingalls and Greg Smith of Adventure 16 in Solana Beach, Wood began training. He’s gotten himself into “reasonable shape,” logging just under 400 miles of hiking and over 40,000 feet of climbing.

Wood, who holds a doctorate in epidemiology and biostatistics, and is a veterinary doctor, has a motto that “Seniors can!” He believes strongly that seniors should “PACE” themselves with the “P” standing for preparation, “A” for attitude, “C” for courage and “E” for execution.