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Taking some steps to prepare for a barefoot Grand Canyon Rim to Rim adventure

September 7, 2012

I recently became a member of the Barefoot Runners Society; the website is full of helpful forums about all things barefoot running—what a wonderful place! So much barefooting experience and expertise!

Rick from Utah read my post on the new members forum—and he had a great question for me regarding my Grand Canyon Rim to Rim barefoot adventure planned for next month (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise). “What are you doing to prep for your [R2R] hike?”

So I’ve been thinking about that the last couple of days, and came up with this list of “steps” I’ve taken (pun intended!) to ensure my 21-or-24-mile (depending on which South Rim trail I choose) adventure goes well:

June 6-28, 2011: 3 weeks solo hiking the forested (and rocky!) trails of the North Rim, and below the Rim on the North Kaibab Trail to the Supai Tunnel quite a few times; one time to Cottonwood Camp (14 miles round trip [r/t]) backpacking. Mostly barefoot (BF); some sandals.

Oct. 2011: N. Kaibab Trail to Supai Tunnel (4 miles r/t), 2 times (BF)

May 2012: N. Kaibab Trail to Supai Tunnel: 4 miles (BF), Uncle Jim Trail loop: 5 miles (BF), backpacking to Cottonwood (14 miles r/t: down w/sandals, up BF).

4/28/12 Into the Wild Limestone Canyon Trail Race. 12K. All BF.

6/16/12. Crystal Cove State Park hike: solo 11-mile perimeter loop. All BF.

6/21/12. Holy Jim Trail up to Santiago Peak. 16 miles r/t. 4400′ elevation gain. (8 miles up BF, down w/sandals)

7/12/12 Renegade Racing Peter’s Canyon Trail Race. 5 miles. 52:00. 210/321 overall. 80/163 women. All BF.

7/27/12 Mt. San Jacinto: solo 11 miles r/t. 2300′ elevation gain (summit is at 10,800′) All BF.

8/19/12 Harding Truck Trail: solo 18 miles r/t. 3000′ elevation gain. (9 miles up BF, down w/ sandals)

8/25/12 CPR and Wilderness First Aid class.

9/5/12 Into the Wild Trail Race at Irvine Park. 8K 53:43. 45/71 overall. All BF.

ALSO: Lots of trail miles solo hiking and running since January 2010, all BF (2-4 times a week; 1 to 2 hours at a time)

FINALLY: Lots of reading of blogs by trail ultra runners to put a measly trek across the Grand Canyon in perspective.

As I mentioned to Rick, my main concern is trail surface temperature: I am not used to cold, and I don’t tolerate super-hot ground very well. I’ll have my Merrell Pipidae sandals strapped to my hydration vest—and be prepared to follow my motto: “If it ain’t fun, put shoes on.”

Other than that: I’ll try not to “over-pack” and leave the kitchen sink at home—but I do like to be prepared for splinters and stubbed toes, and I know I’ll need lots o’ calories to power me down to the Colorado River and back up again. Then there’s my camera, tripod, flashlight, fleece top, lip balm, ear warmer, bandana, water purifier . . . maybe I should just bring the kitchen sink!

THANKS Rick for all the advice you’ve given me so far—any other tips will be appreciated as well. (Rick is planning his own Rim2Rim later in October; he seems to have given this matter a lot of thought, and I’d rather not learn from my own mistakes if I can glean a little wisdom from others first.)

Happy Trails!

A shot from a May 2012 backpacking trip down the North Kaibab Trail to Cottonwood Camp . . . love the mud puddle relief . . .

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