Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim 11/6/2010

Grand Canyon 11/6/2010

Photo album available here

Shane, Brad, and I headed down to the Grand Canyon for a rim2rim2rim adventure on Saturday. This would be my fifth double crossing but the first for both Brad and Shane. Being able to share this experience with them made this extra special for me. 

The sign basically says you’re going to die if you go to the river and back in a day

We started about 4:30 am and descended the South Kaibab Trail via headlamp. This trail is pretty steep and it may have been a good thing we weren’t taking our eyes off of it site seeing. We got to Phantom Ranch just as the Sun began to come up and the guys got their first views of their surroundings.

North Kaibab Trail parallels Bright Angel Creek
The canyon is narrow here due to the hard schist rock
We kept a pretty good pace the first 5 miles after leaving Phantom Ranch due to the gradual grade of the trail. There are no steep climbs on this section but we soon left the inner gorge and the scale of Grand Canyon left us all in awe.
We stopped often and took pictures to take in the experience
Grand Canyon is far from the desolate landscape often depicted in photos
Looking back to where we started just a few hours before
Before we knew it we had arrived at the ranger residence before the big climb up the North Rim. The trail steepens quite a bit after the ranger residence and we were switching between running the flatter sections and hiking the steep inclines.
I swear it's not what it looks like
Colors changing in valley below the trail
Lookout just below North Rim
After the never ending climb we were all feeling good and in good spirits at the half way point.
North Rim
We saw four other runners on the North Rim doing their own double crossings. As we descending back down the trail I was blown away by how many were out there. Seems every time I do this run more and more runners are out there.
Brad on the descent
Typical view about half way between rim and residence
Bridge crossing Bright Angel Canyon on North Kaibab Trail
This bridge made for a great photo opportunity
Shane and Brad at the ranger residence
We flew down the trail back to the rangers’ residence. What had taken us about two hours on the way up only took about 50 minutes on the way down. For me, the stretch from the back to Phantom Ranch is the crux of the day. The toll of miles of downhill pounding really take their toll despite the moderate grade of the trail. I started having some stomach problems and had to rest a few times to let it settle.
One of four bridges that cross Bright Angel Creek in inner gorge
By some miracle we made it back to Phantom Ranch and we were all happy the descent was over. All we had to do now was climb 5000′ in 7 miles to the finish.
Black Bridge crosses the Colorado River
Looking down at Bright Angel Campground from South Kaibab Trail

Going up the South Kaibab Trail can most accurately be described as a slog. Only a handful of flattish sections justify the energy expenditure of running. The trail is steep and relentless. However, we chatted it up and we treated to the expansive views of Grand Canyon that we missed earlier.

The round trip was about 43 miles including the 1/2 mile from the parking lot to the trailhead with +/- 11,000 ft of elevation change. We made it car to car in about 12 hours. This was a pretty good time considering all the breaks and photos we took. Our actual moving time was probably closer to 10 hours.┬áBoth Shane and Brad were awesome partners on this run. If anything, I was the whinny baby and held them up. It was special to share an experience that it so dear to me. It was a perfect day. The weather couldn’t have been better and everything seemed to go our way.
Typical view heading up S. Kaibab Trail

Post Script,
On the way home Shane and I stopped for a burger and a beer to celebrate and fill our hungry bellies. In a show of endurance that pales the double crossing, Shane put down a 1/2 pound bacon cheeseburger and onion rings and promptly ordered another and crushed the second burger without flinching. Very impressive indeed sir. I also have to give a shout out to Brad’s show of endurance by putting up with mine and Shane’s ridiculous banter all day. In a word, it was SMUTty and Brad took it like a champ.