On May 20th – I completed the first of a three part dream/goal. This goal is to run a Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) of the Grand Canyon. The three parts are:
- Complete a South Rim to Phantom Ranch to South Rim hike/run
- Complete a Rim to Rim hike/run
- Complete the full Rim to Rim to Rim hike/run
I spent the night before down in Kanab and got up about 4 a.m. to do the three+ hour drive to the Grand Canyon. I did have some food packed to eat on the drive, but got excited and distracted and only ate about half of that. This was a mistake that would help me bonk later, but – you live and learn. It was beautiful driving to the Grand Canyon. For most of the drive I did not see another car and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise.
Entering the west gate of the Grand Canyon I stopped at one or two view points just to take in the view. Last time I was down here in November, 2013 we couldn’t even see the canyon because of the huge inversion that it was experiencing.
I drove through the park and luckily found a parking spot right in front of Bright Angel Lodge – perfect because I would be staying there that night. I headed over to the bus stop to catch a couple of buses over to the South Kaibob trailhead. I totally forgot that Arizona did not observe daylight savings time and was an hour earlier than planned and actually made the last hikers shuttle that took us straight to the trailhead in a matter of minutes.
Bathroom break and picture break and I was ready for the adventure to begin.
I had envisioned “running” down South Kaibob. Reality precluded that. A good portion of the trail was stair steps unevenly spaced as well as a lot of trail damage from recent rains. While I ran when I could, I just settled in to a good hiking pace and enjoyed the views and the adventure of being there. It was all that I imagined and I just made the most of being there and learning and absorbing.
I did pass a couple of mule/horse trains. It was nice to take a break and let them pass. Even got to say hello to one of the leaders in the afternoon as he brought another train down the Bright Angel Trail and we recognized each other.
I had been talking with Davy Crockett about the trip. I knew it was getting late in the summer based on the heat at the bottom, but we thought this week would work since they had been experiencing some rain earlier in the week. I think it was probably 90 degrees on the canyon floor (since it was a bit over 80 degrees later at Indian Gardens) and the heat started impacting me on the return trip.
Made my way over to Phantom Ranch. There was a lot of trail work going on which required some route finding. I grabbed some M&M’s and a lemonade while resting and someone let me use their suntan lotion (since I forgot mine in my car in my excitement to start). I should have probably rested a bit longer and taken in a bit more food – but the Ranch was really low on snacks and that frustrated me.
I really enjoyed the river trail over to where the Bright Angel Trail started up. Of course, I knew the big uphill was coming. The heat was getting to me already and I was worried because I was not eating like I should – if I didn’t get over that I would pay for it.
Bright Angel Trail had a lot more people on it than I saw going down on South Kaibab. Probably because of the water sources available. I enjoyed the occasional moisture and would just run across the stream crossings because it felt good to have my feet cold and wet for a few minutes. Luckily the pretaping and RunGoo plus the shoe and sock combination resulted in no blisters.
On the trail up I struggled with energy issues as I approached Indian Garden (5 miles to go). I knew the heat plus only a few hours of sleep was catching up to me. I finally ended up forcing myself to eat a couple of M&M’s every few minutes to try and keep my energy up. I was very glad for the extra water at 5, 3 and 1.5 miles from the rim because I was drinking like crazy. About 3 miles from the rim I bonked hard. I broke down then and put on some music and the music from Chicago (the musical) helped pass the time and keep me going.
I was so glad to hit the rim. A great day – but it was a challenge and a joy at the same time. I’d say I did really well pace wise until Indian Garden – passing people all the time. It was only then that my mistakes came back to haunt me.
Funny story – I have never seen my Garmin go “backwards” but it was really funny around mile 14 to watch my mileage go from 14.07 to 14.06, 14.05 for a while when I was out of satellite view. Not sure of my true mileage because of satellites. I think it was about 16.5 miles and lots of vertical.