Saturday, May 24, 2014

Grand Canyon R2R One Day Part One

Sunrise at 4:30 on the South Kaibab Trail

 Hiking the Grand Canyon is always an amazing thing. The beauty of the place is just amazing. This is a place that is like no other on Earth. Being on the rim and looking down and across you realize that this place is something big but it is not until you take those steps down and into the canyon that you begin to realize just how big this place is. Our goal on this trip was to hike the canyon from the South Rim to the North Rim in one day. Then to spend that night and another night on the North Rim and hike back across to the South Rim on the following day after a day of rest.

We began at 2:30 am from Mather Campground. My daughter was going to break camp for us and meet us on the North Rim later that day. We began the trip with the light of a half moon and our headlamps. It was quite the walk to the South Kaibab Trail. We arrived and got ready for our descent. The time was 3:07am. We had seen some other people going down before us by watching their headlamps zigzagging down the trail. Now it was our turn. The night was perfect with some moonlight to make out the walls around us. The temperature was near perfect, cool but not cold. We kept a good pace and were just above the Tonto Plateau when the sun began to come up. It was spectacular to see. As the light got brighter the walls of the canyon turned from red to orange. We were not alone as we started to see many people running the trail passing us. It turns out that this was the weekend form runners to do the rim to rim to rim in one day. There were hundreds of them by the end of the day.

We arrived at the bridge around 6am.

 Then on to Phantom Ranch just a short distance away. As we were coming into Phantom Ranch I was watching someone coming towards me and was not looking at the trail. I did a face plant and got a few scraps and a sore ribcage which still hurts at night a week later. We arrive just as the second breakfast was being served to the mule riders. We ate some bars and Chomps, drank our fill of water and headed into the Box. The box is the inner canyon of the Bright Angel Creek and it has high walls and is very narrow. In the cool morning in the shade it is great but once the sun hits those rocks it becomes an oven so we wanted to be well past this section before the sun got too high. We came out of the box just as the sun was rising high enough to start hitting side walls.
North Kaibab Trail

 Cottonwood Campground was only 3 miles away and the trail was mostly up and down a this point. There is one really steep up hill, and then steep down hill just as you pass Ribbon Falls. It seems that at some time in the past the trail must have washed away and they built that up down section. We got more water at Cottonwood. Many of the campers there were just packing up to go as we were pulling out. Next was The Roaring Springs Pump house only 1.7 miles and again on a gentle uphill grade. There is one wonderful waterfall just before you make the final turn to the rest station.

 The Bright Angel Creek runs from Roaring Springs for about 11 miles to the Colorado River and the North Kaibab trail follows that all the way. The last photo is that last turn before the pump house. After that rest stop the rim is just 5 miles away. The uphill form this point is very steep and exhausting. We took several hours to finish that last 5 mile section. I really hit the wall as we started that uphill and Roaring Springs came into view. Later that night in the lodge I was cleaning out my pack and found the reason. I was not hungry and thought I was eating a lot. I had only had three bags of Chomps and 3 Lara bars, some grapes at Phantom Ranch and some nuts at the pump house. I also thought I was drinking a lot but when I saw how full my water bladder was at the top of that last 5 mile section I realized that I had only been sipping the electrolyte water. No wonder I hit the wall.

 Now for a day of rest on the North Rim to just relax and do some sight seeing. My daughter and her dog had been hanging out by the lodge all day waiting for us. Seems like a group of tourists took a liking to her hound dog and were snapping photos of her.

My Fitbit said that I had taken 62,000 something steps at the end of the day! Wow, I sure was tired.

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