On Friday, May 4, four of us--Deborah, Lori, Herb, and myself--successfully completed a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim. The others had done the R2R2R previously (Deborah six times!), but it was a first for me and I was duly AWED--what an incredible trip!!
We descended the South Kaibab starting just before 5 a.m. under a just-past full moon. The jog down to the Colorado River was pure joy, even when we had to wait to pass an early morning mule train. We arrived at Phantom Ranch (see above photo) to the smell of frying bacon, but alas breakfast was for the paying guests, not "runner trash" such as ourselves. :)
Pressing on up the North Kaibab Trail, we marveled at the high, narrow canyon walls and delighted in the incredible display of yuccas and spring cactus flower blooms in shades of pink, purple, and yellow--what beauty! After passing Cottonwood Campground and Roaring Springs (water at both), the trail steepened and became more fun, but I wouldn't recommend anyone with acrophobia do this section as the trail was cut into the rock wall, with severe dropoffs that reminded me of the Ouray Bear Creek Trail on the Hardrock course. I wondered "Are we going to RUN down this section?!"
We finally hit the South Rim (no water turned on yet) and, as the temperature was only about 50 degrees, got chilled waiting a few minutes for the others to show up. The return trip was a blast, and we were blessed with an almost unbelievable high of only ~75 degrees in the inner canyon. What a treat!
After downing some Tecate (holy moly, they sell BEER!) at Phantom Ranch, we exited the building only to encounter a group of five guys from Montana we were also doing a R2R2R. They'd started in early afternoon and intended on doing most of the run at night under the near full moon. (We saw them the next morning; they successfully completed their own double crossing.)
As we ascended the Bright Angel Trail, the wind started to blow, dark clouds filled the sky toward the North Rim, and light rain began to pelt us around Indian Garden. Fortunately it quickly stopped, long enough for Deborah and I to get to the tunnel near the top, at which point it began to... SNOW!?! We finished this awesome run bundled up in all the clothing we'd brought, in temps in the 30s, and with huge smiles plastered on our faces. Our total time was somewhere around 14 1/2 hours, including lots of stops.
So, I was really happy to successfully complete my "Arizona Triple": Zane Grey, Humphrey's Peak, and the Grand Canyon within a week. Now for some rest.......