Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Adventure

It's been a few weeks now since our double crossing of the Grand Canyon.  Since then, I've been on a couple other trips and haven't found the time to write up a report.  I did want to write up some of the trip logistics, if for no other purpose than to aid me in preparing for the next time I run this route, since it was so amazing!

The Run
Our group met around 3:30am on Friday, May 16.  We planned the run for Friday, so that in case the weather didn't cooperate on Friday, we could still do it Saturday before going home on Sunday.  Our friends shuttled us from the Maswik Lodge to the South Rim trail.

We started down the South Rim trail around 4:00am.  I hiked pretty much the whole way down, to save my quads for the rest of the 48-mile trip.  Later on, I was very glad that I did this.  I had no issues other than sore calves the day after.

We crossed the black bridge over the Colorado River and headed to Phantom Ranch.  For fun, we each weighed our packs.  Mine was the heaviest in our group, at 15 pounds.  Our next water stop was at Cottonwood Campground; then the Pump House shortly after.  The trip from there up to Supai Tunnel felt like a long one.  We had to make our way past a ranger who did her best to encourage us to stop on the North Rim.  Fortunately, we managed to resist her.  From Supai Tunnel to the North Rim was quite steep.

We spent a long time resting at the North Rim.  Running back down, through Supai Tunnel, past the Pump House and Cottonwood, was really fun.  We took a detour to Ribbon Falls, which was surreal.  To see a beautiful waterfall, moss-covered rocks, and croaking frogs at the bottom of the Grand Canyon was unexpected.  I continued to feel good running to Phantom Ranch and then to the Bright Angel trail.  I mostly ran separately from my group and waited for them every couple miles.  We crossed the silver bridge over the Colorado and headed up towards the South Rim.

Ribbon Falls
Darkness fell as Chris and I, now separate from the rest of our foursome, headed toward Indian Gardens.  We waited at Indian Gardens for the rest of our group (which was down to two other people by this time), and then we decided to go in pairs the rest of the way.  It seemed incredibly steep, but I followed the old adage of "relentless forward progress" and remained a couple minutes behind Chris until we neared the top.  He waited for me so we could run in the final few yards.  Jeannie was there at the top to meet us and see us back safely to the lodge.

The goal of our trip was to enjoy the experience and successfully complete the run.  We definitely accomplished that.  My goal for next time will be to see how quickly I can do it.  This time around, we spent a lot of time at rest stops or waiting for other people.  That was fun for the first time, but now I'm already excited to go back again.
Me and Chris celebrating our finish

Before our Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim trip, I tried to do some research online to find out what food and gear others had found helpful.  I didn't find much out there in terms of packing lists, so I'll include mine here in case it's helpful to others.  My post-run thoughts are in blue.

In Large Solomon Pack:
  • Bladder
  • 2 x H20 bottles (Since the pumps were turned on, I had more than enough water. I would've been fine with just my bladder and one bottle.)
  • Clif bars -- 5
  • gels -- 5 (I ended up not eating any of my gels -- but I did donate them to a friend who was going through his calories more quickly than anticipated.)
  • chocolate-covered pretzels (These were probably my favorite food during the run, because they were both sweet and salty.)
  • Medjool dates
  • Nuun -- 2 bottles (I used Nuun in my water bottles, but not in my bladder. I think using Nuun and drinking to thirst helped me avoid hyponatremia.)
  • yogurt-covered raisins (These, along with two Clif bars and a couple gels, were the only foods I had left going up the South Rim. They tasted gross in the middle of the night, but I force-fed them to myself anyway.)
  • Bobo bars (These tasted good but were a little dry.)
  • dried mangos
  • trail mix (I wish I had packed more trail mix. It tasted great.)
  • sunscreen (I re-applied frequently, and didn't get burned!)
  • shades
  • trekking poles, tied with bungee to pack (I used these on the way down South Rim, and I think they helped -- just because they provided some stability in the darkness on the rutted, uneven trail. I also used them on the way up North Rim, and they helped there with all the big step-ups.)
  • tylenol, ibuprofin, Tums (I ended up using two Tylenol during the run.)
  • camera and extra batteries

  • Headlamp (new batteries)
  • buff (Once it got hot, I started soaking my buff in creeks and under water pumps every chance I got; I wore it around my neck.)
  • Outdoor Research Sombriolet hat
  • New Balance shorts
  • two pair socks (injinji, Wigwam)
  • sports bra
  • Captn Karl's shirt (cotton/poly blend)
  • hairtie
  • vasoline
  • sunscreen
  • Garmin (charged)
  • light jacket (It turned out to be so warm that I really didn't need to start with a jacket. But I felt good having it just in case. And by the time we finished, it was really cold and windy up on the South Rim, so I was glad to have the jacket while we waited for our friends to finish.)
  • trail Hokas
  • Dirty Girl gaitors
  • fitness gloves, to prevent blisters when using poles

During the run, I don't think there was anything I missed and wished I had brought.  I didn't bring my cell phone, because there are only a few places where you can get reception, anyway.

All in all, the trip was a resounding success.  Praise be to God for good weather, good health, and great friends!

Warning! Don't try to hike to the river and back in one day!

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