Friday, December 3, 2010

Grand Canyon Double Crossing

This page is an adventure run report from the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R.)  This was my second time doing this trip, and I managed to talk some friends into joining me for this little adventure.  I talked some friends into coming on this particular adventure.  Three other nutcases did the R2R2R, while 10 other people did a loop to the river and back (22 miles.)  This write-up is about the longer, 46 mile version.

Photo: This is the crew (from left) Charles Scott, ST, David Bishop, and Hara Hackett.

This picture was taken inside the main lodge at 4am before we started. Hara is drinking coffee.  She is mustering a smile which belies the fact that she was so nervous she only slept 1 hour the night before.  And she threw up, again from nerves in anticipation of this run.

This pretty sums it up.  Part of the appeal of running across (and back) in the Grand Canyon is that it is a very remote area.  You can't just call up your friend to come get you.  There are no ambulances or even heated buildings to hang out in.  You are way out there.  Park rangers don't give a shizzle that you are cold, tired, exhausted, bonking, out of food, or lost.  You got yourself into this situation, now get yourself out.  In fact, the only way to be evacuated from the Grand Canyon is a helicopter ride, purported to cost $10,000.

Photo: After only a few hours or downhill running, Charles is taking a break / taking a picture.

Incidentally I am pointing to the exact spot where Susan and I got engaged exactly 2 years earlier.

David Bishop (on left) and myself just after crossing the Colorado river, about 10 miles into the first crossing

This year Dave Bishop achieved a personal best at Olympic Distance, qualified for World Championships, and ran his first 50K.  To top it off he joined us on this run, and proved that he could walk downhill faster than I can run downhill.  He was strong all day long and even dropped the rest of the group during the last 1-2 miles of the day.

Pictured (from left) ST, Charlie, and Hara.

This is right before the $hizzle hit the fan, we are about to head up the north rim.  Note we are still smiling.  The climb up the North Kaibab trail is the most beautiful, and the most treacherous.

This picture was taken just after summiting the North Rim.  At this point we are not in the mood to stand around because it was very cold and snowy here.  We had just climbed over 6000 feet and had seriously gotten our butts kicked.  However, it is important to remember after a long climb is that if you eat a little bit and head back down the descent, you will start feeling much better in a few minutes. Especially after we got below the snow line it got much better.

While on the North Rim, I helped Hara get her Yak Trax on.  Hara performed amazingly this day. Although she was the first member of our party to show signs of fatigue, she somehow managed to maintain all the way through the rest of the run without ever falling apart.  As we were on our way up the North Rim Hara was talking about stopping in the lodge to warm-up, getting something to eat, or maybe even catching the bus back to the South Rim.  I explained to her that there is NOTHING on the North Rim.  Nothing is open, there are no people there in the Winter because it is too cold and snowy.  The only way back was to turn around. 

Like I said Hara managed to maintain, but she also gave us some entertainment every so often.  At one water stop, Hara was standing 20 or 30 feet from the three guys when she turned and looked at no one in particular and started having a conversation one.  When I realized what was happening I hollered, "Hara!  Who are you talking to."  She just picked up her CamelBak, walked over to us, and said she was ready to keep going.  Mind you, we had 20 miled to go still, including running up the South Rim.

Hara receives a non-plussed, "What the....? Award' for having a conversation with a hallucination.

On the way back I saw this little guy clinging to the side of a tree.  I saw his eyes first.  I was trying to describe him to Charlie: he is a cross of a squirrel, raccoon, and maybe a cat.  Finally I said, "He's a Mr. Peepers."  Evidently they are actually called a "Ringtail."  I wonder why.

This is the trail on the way back up the South Rim, except when we climbed this trail it was already completely dark.  At one point when we were stopped, Charlie suggested we shut the headlamps off and absorb the darkness.  I then realized there was enough moonlight that I was able to do most of the final climb with no light.  This was very confusing to our friends who were waiting for us as they could only count 3 headlamps. 

By this point with only a couple miles left (~1 hour of climbing) Charlie was completely "over it."  I knew I could keep his morale up by babbling about whatever delusions happened thorough my hypoxic mind.  He later said, "man, you just kept talking."  A little while later when I realized Charlie and Hara were not interested in conversation I put my ipod on for the last mile (out of 46 miles.) 

Here is a picture of Hara semi-propped up on the trail taking a rest break.  She gets mad at me because I think it is funny to take pictures of her when she is totally prostrated, but I would counter that it is because she is such a bad ass and can push herself to the brink of exhaustion. 

Of course I will say that in the end the best part of this trip was spending some time with my lovely wife Susan. On the day of the actual run I left before her since she was in the Rim to River group.  I was very excited to see her when I returned at 2:30am after 22 hours on the trail, when she greeted me with a "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG!"  Of course I knew she was just tired from her own run and post-run celebration.  The next day we had a romantic breakfast with a canyon view together. 

1 comment:

The Ancient Brit said...

Re: Rim2Rim2Rim, Well done to all of you, I really do know the feeling of coimpleting this quest, did it over 20 years ago with some of my American Pals what an absolute blast, and for an old Englishman, one of the highlights of my ongoing American Experiance.Now 83, and still a mean old bastard, ran/walked/stumbled the Del Passtore 100km earlier this year, will be flying back to your side of the pond next year, and run in the Strolling Jim 40 miler. Keep up the good work,A Very Happy Christmas to you and yours. The Ancient Brit. London. England