Monday, October 24, 2011

Grand Canyon...

We finally made it to Grand Canyon. This trip was supposed to be a R2R2R, but with my injury, I didn't have time to train for that distance. Since we had already paid for a room at the Bright Angel Lodge, and my longest hike was up to 18 miles, we went anyway.

The plan was to hike/run down S. Kaibab trail to the river, on to Phantom Ranch, and then come back out of the Canyon via Bright Angel trail.

Dallas and I checked out of the lodge bright and early and waited for the 'Hikers Express' shuttle to take us from Bright Angel lodge to the S. Kaibab trailhead. There is no parking at that TH and it is about 3 miles away.

Right before we started, while we were waiting at the TH bathrooms, a lady asked us what we were hiking that day. I said, "We are going down to the river/Phantom Ranch and back". She said, "In ONE DAY?" I replied, "Yes", to which she quipped back, "You know that isn't recommended." I reassured her that we were ultrarunners and would be fine.

However, you see these signs everywhere, so we were fairly warned. We knew to bring plenty of water and food and we had adequately trained for this. I don't think a lot of people who get in trouble really know what they are getting into at GC.

We started about 6:30am, right after break of dawn. As soon as we started down the trail, we were gasping at how beautiful it was!!! We took so many pictures.

We ran off and on down S. Kaibab. The views on this trail are unbelievable. It is fairly steep in spots, so we had to be careful on the downhill running. There were some spots that went back up, but it was mostly very downhill!

Yay! I'm running!!!

View of the switchbacks below

Me running on the switchbacks

The river finally came into view, along with the bridge. We made it down to the river in about 2 hours.

After crossing the river, we headed on to Phantom Ranch for some lemonaide!

Dallas is so adorable in this picture.

Been a while since I've seen one of these phones.... :)

We put the lemonaide in our bottles to drink on the way out. After a 15 minute break at Phantom Ranch, we headed back towards Bright Angel trail.

We crossed a few more bridges and started to head up Bright Angel trail.

Silver Bridge

The trail is above the river for a short bit, then eventually moves away from it. 

Bright Angel trail has a lot of switchbacks, with some different foliage in spots than S. Kaibab. There is also quite a bit of water along Bright Angel, whereas on S. Kaibab, there is none.

We started seeing all sorts of people on this trail, which is heavily traveled. We passed a few mule trains during our time in the canyon, but luckily, we were at great spots to pull over when we did, so it was no problem.

The views were pretty. Even saw a little critter here and there.

He was just munching away - not too concerned about us.

We power hiked this and trucked past all sorts of people. There was not much running being done at this point! One switchback after another.

There's no room for error if you quit paying attention to the trail in some spots.

We were in shade much of the way on Bright Angel, which was so nice. However, after a gazillion switchbacks, we were ready to be done when that tunnel came into view.

The last 3 miles out, we saw so many people. Right below the rim, a class of students on a field trip were having lunch (this was as far as they were going, but it was quite a sight when we came around the corner).

A final, parting shot of the Grand Canyon.

We ended up with 19 miles, but you lose signal with the GPS a lot on this trail, so it wildly overestimates the climb out. It is more like 17 miles is what we have read. About 4,500 feet elevation gain. Took us 6 hours and 6 minutes for the whole trip. I probably ran about 6 miles of the 17. I felt great!

Reddish legs, socks and shoes from the Grand Canyon's red dirt.

We did it! We drove to Flagstaff to spend the night and rewarded ourselves with - burgers, of course! I love doing things like this with my best friend.

Dallas and I are planning a R2R2R next October. We can't wait! One of the most epic places I've ever been.

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