Thursday, April 26, 2007

Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim to Rim

Adventure: The Rim to Rim to Rim
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Bright Angel Trail to the North Rim to the Bright Angel Trail
47 miles roundtrip, ~11,000 feet
April 21, 2007

This is the second year I’ve done the R2R2R with a group of friends in Arizona. It is nothing short of spectacular in terms of the scenery. As far as physical conditioning goes, one must be prepared for the relentless pounding on their legs and all types of conditions, from hot dry weather to snow.

Enroute to “The Big Deep” I drove up on Spirit Mountain Ranch. My daughter and I have read much about White Buffalo legends. According to the sign out front, there were White Buffalo (Bison actually) on this property.

Inside the building I met a lovely woman who spouted off facts about these rare and beautiful creatures. Then she invited me to go out to the pasture and view them as Jim was feeding them. There were EIGHT White Buffalo. Eight is the number of prosperity……infinity. These magnificent creatures were serene and beautiful.

Unfortunately, I needed to get to the Grand Canyon for some sleep before my alpine start on the R2R2R. So I bid the Buffalo, Jim and Dena Riley good-bye, and headed up to the national park.

Starting on the Bright Angel Trail at 3 am we began our descent into “The Big Deep” by headlamp. Reaching Indian Gardens in just one hour and then Phantom Ranch in a bit over two hours we were still in the dark, moving by headlamp and well on our way to the North Rim.

As we began the temperatures were much warmer than last year. I immediately stripped down to shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. We scurried past Phantom Ranch and onto Cottonwood Camp as the sun began to rise. But there were many clouds, so the temperatures remained much cooler this year (compared with April of 2006). I only drank 1.25 gallons of water for the entire journey and ate little.

Approaching this year's Rim Job as a "training outing", I paced myself up to the North Rim feeling ok and carrying lots of weight. Without doing the mega-mile training weeks, Danielle Jacobs and I managed to reach the North Rim in just under 8 hours. There, the 4th and final snow squall of the outing sent shivers through our barelegged bodies. Slipping on gloves and a coat - we turned around quickly and started down for the second half of our adventure.

At Cottonwood camp - we stopped for a longggg while - deciding to take in the unique scenery and wildlife.

At Phantom Ranch we parted ways. Danielle preferring to take the Kaibab trail up, leaving me with 9.5 miles of uppage to gain on the Bright Angel trail before dark. Even though my feet were feeling the previous 37.5 miles, the ascent went much smoother this year - somehow it seemed almost routine...just a long day.

After topping out I hit the bar for a "Bright Angel hot dog", Pint of Fat Tire, and to just take in what we'd all done. I'm not just yet ready to retire from the Rim Job outings - frankly they are a quiet mediation.

Click here for pics