Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Single Crossing of the Grand Canyon

may 18
A half mile from the top of the rim i was being reminded why i've opted not to train with a watch for the past several years. I looked down: 3:02.40. For what was certainly several minutes, I suffered in agony as i stumffled (that's stumbleshuffled) my way up the dusty trail past the germans, french, japanese, new yorkers, russians, texans, mexicans and babies of all types. 3:02.43. Three seconds passed.

The final querter mile of the South Kaibab trail, saturated with sweat, tears and mule shit, zig-zags up the white limestone face that defines the final few hundred vertical feet of the Grand Canyon. 3:05.34. Looking at my watch, I tripped and fell into the chalky, limestone powder that pads the trail. With three switchbacks to go, I look down at my watch and see it slip away. 3:06:43,44,45,46,47. Arriving at the rim a minute and change later, I sat myself down on a rock wall and watched as a steady stream of devote naturists slogged thier ways up the final switchback.

my exhausted body and dehydrated mind day dreamed back two miles where a quarter mile of trail crew yelled at me for running through their work zone, and how I felt like a jerk for not slowing down. back six miles with the colorado river a stones throw behind me where I was walking behind the stench of sweat and manure of mule and driver for two minutes. I used the time to drink water, down a fourth gel, remove my shirt and prepare for the 5,000 vertical foot ascent out of the Canyon.

back eight miles where i was wondering if this side canyon would ever reach phantom ranch. and then back eleven miles... ten miles into the canyon from the north rim. i had just passed an intersection without giving it much though. a man called from behind me "exuse me!" i turned around and the man my memory shows me is the tom wait's character in the imaginarium of dr. parnassus which i had just seen and i recomond that you put it next in line on your net flix account. "is that the way to phantom ranch?" i hadn't thought about it to be honest. i was just following my nose, as they say. "are you sure it's not this way, towards ribbon falls?" he asked. the way i was headed was unmarked which put doubt in my head and the way towards ribbon falls had a fancy bridge to get you across the stream running the entire valley. I returned to the intersection, and for a couple minutes, ran down the trail towards ribbon falls and what i hopped would be phantom ranch beyond. another hiker pointed me back in the direction of the intersection telling me that i was headed the right way initially. i never saw the first hiker again. four to five minutes had passed before i returned to my turnaround point on the trail. though i've never attempted this run before and couldn't possibly know how i was fairing compared to Allyn Cureton's 1981 record crossing, i knew that the run had just shifted from leisure to potential torture. My head turned dark and a state of focus was nearly impossible to maintain.

back 19 miles, passing through the supai tunnel. back 20.6 miles, standing on the North Rim, trying to recall why i thought this was a good idea for my birthday.

Back at the South Rim, I sat next to the fountain, drinking cup after cup of water. Even though there wasn't much room for standing, people prefered to give me my own seat on the bus. I picked up my backpack at the Bright Angle Lodge and went to the bar to celebrate my birthday with an overcooked burger a warm beer and uncooked fries. After stocking up on water, bananas, tortillas, peanut butter and honey, I started making my way back towards the North Rim. By the time I was no longer able to walk the crescent moon was about to set and the bats were out in full force.

Having rafted down the grand canyon twice, the lure of running from one rim to the other has allured me for some time. with the ski season over and the racing season on the horizon, i decided to make a road trip out of this run. while in boulder, i replaced the battery to my motorcycle put some new tires on the wheels. i headed out of town in a windstorm to arrive at Simon G.s steps hours later. And the steps of a friend from highschool the night after that. mancos, four corners, hovenweep, kyenta, page. 1500 miles on the motorcycle gave me pleanty of time to think about the record.

a bull snake includes my motorcycle in it's crossing of the road.

f650 in the forground, grand canyon in the background

mancos, colorado

i'm back in aspen now and the full moon has me running at night.

don't feed the animals

0:00.00 north kaibab trail head
12.43 supai tunnel
19.29 first bridge
34.53 roaring springs
49.06 cotton wood
1:38.00 phantom ranch
1:45.00 colorado river
2:09.00 lower rest area
2:28.00 i don't know why i hit lap here
3:07.51 south kaibab trail head


GZ said...

Rickey - I heard you got off trail a bit. Someone asked me how that was possible. Given it was my first time through the canyon this spring as well, I found the Ribbon Falls-Cottonwood Springs up/down jct a bit confusing myself. I was pretty sure that this was where you got thrown off (I had the benefit however of coming from S-N though).

Nice run, thanks for sharing and go get em at the big hill next month.

Dave Mackey said...

Nice run rickey. Been thinking of that one way trip for awhile. Thanks to you and GZ for making mistakes so we can learn from them. Have a great summer.

Bridget said...

Hey Rickey! Good to find out what you have been up to - we're in Wisco, only spent a day in Boulder after our trip. Sorry we missed you :( ...Still thinkin' about road trippin up around the Northwoods? We liked the list of numbers at the end of your post. They look impressive! XOXOXO J & B