Monday, April 22, 2013

The Grand Canyon

Thursday afternoon, as I sat staring at my computer screen, I simply couldn't focus.  I needed to get going, I needed to head west.  The weather notwithstanding, I was just so incredibly excited to go see the Grand Canyon for the first time, and to truly experience it.  We surly accomplished that.  Immediately upon arrival, we stopped to check out the views, then after checking in at the hotel we came back for sunset and beers.  Amazing.

3 of 5. Me, Donnie, and Todd.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif

Excited? Yeah.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif

Starting to sink in.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif
That alarm came early and we fumbled about getting ready for a long day in the ditch.  Greg's lady kindly shuttled us from the Bright Angel Trailhead to the South Kaibab and we took some photos and started running down the trail with shouts of joy and stupid grins plastered on our faces.

Down, down, down.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
We stopped at nearly every overlook without asking, but with all of us muttering some variation of "holy shit, man."  This is why...
Really? Really.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
The long way down seemed surreal, each new cliff face a new canyon and a new sight.  A short hold up with some mules could not derail our giddiness and before long we'd reached the Colorado.

Greg.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
Once we'd topped off water at Phantom Ranch, we began the flattish trail up towards Cottonwood Campground and I was instantly dropped by Todd and Donnie, who were blazing away, but slightly ahead of Jeremiah and Greg.  I nearly ran into the river a few times while staring up at the canyon walls.  The temps were ideal while my legs were already toast!  Perhaps the 45 miler last weekend was a bit of an excessive treat prior to a GC trip...
Jeremiah and I.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
In any case, I was passed by Jerimiah somewhere before CCG and I began lugging my way up the North Kaibab Trail.  Just below the ranger quarters, TK came up behind me and we said hi briefly and I could instantly tell he was gunning for Dakota's FKT as he was motoring.
My favorite stretch of trail, on the ridge, South Kaibab Trail.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
Somewhere before the overlook TK came flying back down, shortly followed by Todd and Tressa from Boulder.  All three were absolutely hammering the down, and I was content to know that I was nearing the top.  Up there, I met Jeremiah and Donnie, and we decided to head back down quickly since we were all nearly out of water.
Mmmmmm.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif
While I love downhills more than most,  my already hammered quads were barking at another 5K of drop!  Eventually we made it back down to CCG as it was really starting to heat up.  We spent a good chunk of time cooling off and picking up some more water.  From there we ran a solid pace back to Phantom Ranch where we were all pretty damn dehydrated and we lamented between ourselves while sucking down some Lemony Lemonade.
Canyons inside of canyons.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif
Only one thing left, about 10 miles and five thousand plus feet of vert!  I found myself in the middle of the group, isolated in an odd state of soreness and decent motor.  Lots of power hiking and a bit of running and I was making solid time until about 3 or 4 to go when I was out of water and feeling like I was about to puke all over the Chinese tourists that littered the trail.  I sat down in the shade to collect myself and serendipitously ran into Jay from the Springs.  He offered me a bar, which I declined, but got up to hike with him.  Turns out, Jay is the greatest pacer in the history of mankind and I nearly forgot just how terrible I felt!  After grabbing some water, we chatted life and plans while drinking in the last of the views from the Bright Angel Trail.  As I got to the last 1/4 mile I jogged up to the top and collapsed next to Todd and Jeremiah.

What do you do to top that? Crush some smothered burritos, multiple orders of tacos, the scraps of Donnie's meal, and a shot of Patron!  This was definitely the highlight of my year so far, and I cannot wait to go back!  In all, I was out there for 10 hours and 44 minutes, a distinctively pedestrian time, but a damn good time.  One day I'll go back and take a crack at running it fast, but it was so enjoyable to just go and spend a day tooling around one of the most incredible places this world has to offer.  If ever there was a reason to be an ultrarunner, this was it.

8 comments:

Gangels said...

Truly awesome! Glad I could be a part of it.

Jim P. said...

Jealous!

Jaime said...

I couldn't be more jealous! Great pics and awesome to see you all get after it!

Brian said...

Very nice! Jealous as well, need to get out there.

jameson said...

awesome!

brownie said...

Lemonaid at Phantom Ranch! Booooo!

fox2039 said...

Enjoyed the pics - amazing

Woody said...

"If ever there was a reason to be an ultrarunner, this was it."

That single line got me. I'm so fired up for some adventures this summer. Well done to all you guys for knocking this one off the bucket list!