Colder weather outside means it is time for the desert, and why not a little Grand Canyon action. About a year ago I drove down to the Grand Canyon with Spence dog and his better half Annie for the Rim to Rim to Rim run. The run kicked our butts but we had a blast, all of us finished the traverse in about 13.5 hours. In the past year I have really picked up my training by running more miles, more trails, more vert, and logged a couple of organized Ultras (50 and 100 milers.) This past Friday morn Pete, Court and I headed down to The Canyon for another go, first time for both of them. In camino we paid the mandatory homage to Meadow Hot Springs
and climbed the always blissful Namaste routes in Kolob Canyon.
|Spence and I at South Fork "Namaste" area in 2011|
We rolled into a nice camping spot near the North Rim and even had time for a fire and some reading. No
elk bugles keeping us up, just cold air under the stars.
We hit the North shish-Kaibab trail at 5:15 sharp. Pete and Court did not even wait for me to lock the
car and stash the key. It is so cold on the rim you got to get moving fast. I still ended up over dressing
and stashed clothes at the Supai Tunnel, mile 1.5 ish. I sported my Hoka shoes, BD poles, and Court’s
Osprey hydration pack (way to heavy.) While trying to catch those hosers in the dark, I rallied my right
ankle hard, stumbled, winced, screamed, limped, walked, then started running again. Not even a half
mile into the 42 miles run and I am wincing and limping. O well. Caught those dudes. We stuck together
until Phantom Ranch at mile 13.9 by my watch in under 3 hours. We stashed lunch and Dr. Pepper and
headed towards the river. We had not really decided which route to go up yet, either up Bright Angel
(longer, less steep, some water) or South Kaibab ( shorter, steeper, no agua.) The cooler temps and
quick pace thus far, nudged us up the South Kaibab. On the way up we passed a hundred hikers, 10
burros, and one dude flying down the trail in a full Batman costume. Way to carp the diem. Court beat
us up the hill by 5 minutes and was basking in the sun. The poles on the climb really helped my legs. I
did not feel near as tired as last years climb. Time to South Rim 4:55 hrs. Felling good we bombed back
down the trail and past right by all the same folks and beast of burdens again. Court and I made it into
the Ranch around the 6.5 hr mark. I had a 100 oz hydration bladder that lasted up and down the South
Kaibob with-out refilling at the top. I have no idea why people do this run in warmer weather.
It is important to mentally realize the second river crossing as the 2/3 mark if you are starting on the
North Rim. Even though you have gone down, up, and down again, you still have a long 14+ miles to
slog out. Court and I were moving pretty quick (ie not crawling) back up through the “Box” canyons.
I soon lost sight of Court and Pete and continued to eat my gruel of a climb alone. The bean burritos,
fruit, and Energy Blocks were not sitting well in the gut and my stomach was in knots. I was able to
preempt a total bonk by slamming as much water as I could, downing salt tabs, ginger chews, Tums, and
ginger tablets. The Vitamin I’s (ibuprofen) were keeping the ankle pain down to a dull throb. As the
climb got steeper I was wasted but still moving pretty quick. Right before the Supai Tunnel I glimpsed
Court and then joined him at the top soon after. We came in at 11:30 hrs and 11:37 hrs respectively, a
two hour PR for me and an awesome virgin time for Court. He had never even seen the Grand Canyon
before. 2 hours later we heard a loud yeehaww as Pete completed the run. Then 8 hours of driving
intermixed with Pete throwing up, driving through a controlled forest fire, 10 pee breaks, Pizza Hut,
energy drinks, and lastly my pillow at home. Great day-o-fun.