Grand Canyon “rim2rim2rim” Adventure: Part I
There is a big difference in mindset when you must reach a destination versus when you want or should reach it.
When there is no way out, our brains and bodies have a way of cooperating.
A year in advance, my husband and I planned this adventure. To run rim to rim to rim of the canyon in 2 consecutive days. I hadn’t run much on trails but that didn’t matter. I was itching to explore gorgeous terrain on foot. My husband agreed.
We decided to begin on the North Rim at sunrise after spending the night at the North Rim Lodge. We would run to the South Rim on day one and spend the night in El Tovar Hotel near the rim’s trail head. Day two we would run back to the North Rim. A trek close to 50 miles. Elevation change of 6000′ with extreme temperature variations (from 35F to 90F in May).
For anyone with aspirations to explore one of our country’s most beautiful sites, there is no better way than personal exploration.
Most people view the canyon from the top. Like the first bite of food when you’re starving, all senses go berserk when you first lay eyes on this enormous hole in the earth bursting with texture and colors. You can even sit in a ‘staring’ chair.
OR you can set foot on trails you cannot see from above that wind for miles. Where every view is different and takes your breath away. The trails are engraved in the canyon walls. Even in single file, one misstep and off the ledge you go. I’ve never felt so much a part of the landscape.
You’ll get filthy, legs will ache, mouth will dry, and the ground will make you stumble. You’ll need the eye candy of this magnificent watercolor panorama just to keep moving.
The opposite of a mountain, a canyon draws you in like a magnet to its floor. The challenge is to resist its pull to remain, traveling along the flowing river. Climbing out for miles feels like an infinite staircase.
Eventually the canyon releases you from its grip and the trailhead appears out of nowhere. There are no medals or cheering crowds. Only the experience that you get to take home.
If you were to ask me, “Should I put this on my bucket list?” I would reply with a resounding, “Yes!!!!!” With an addendum.
I believe anyone who is willing to train, no fear of heights, and enjoys the outdoors, can complete a hike in the Grand Canyon. You have options and many are not as arduous as ours.
You can hike down from either rim as far as you feel comfortable and hike back up the same trail. This will help you gauge your endurance because you will know what to expect (sort of) coming back up.
You can hike down to the river or Phantom Ranch, the only “lodge” down in the canyon, and back up the same side. This will require preparation, supplies and training as it’s almost the same as going rim to rim except you’ll know what to expect going back up.
You can ride a mule. (Terrible idea in my opinion).
You can hike rim to rim over two days if you get a permit and camp along the trail. This will require you to carry extra weight (camping gear).
The most bold (or crazy) athletes traverse rim to rim to rim in ONE day. Even the best ultramarathoners and trail runners in the world risk their safety in this endeavor. It requires running in darkness, carrying fewer supplies (fewer emergency items), and maximal endurance. Many have digestion and hydration issues due to the extreme elevation and temperature changes. Not to mention the extraordinary muscular endurance such a goal requires.
My husband and I began this journey with over 40 marathons, multiple iron distance triathlons and an ultramarathon under our belt. We had experience to rely on when deciding which goal suited our desire and physical ability. We wanted an extreme challenge but one based on our fitness level.
You can research and read blogs but no one can predict how another individual will handle it.
Fortunately, we made the perfect decision for us.
We completed our goal and finished totally and completely spent.
If you want to complete a Grand Canyon adventure, you need to be prepared and understand the risks. I hope this series will help you do that.