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R2R FKT BF: The Sequel

October 30, 2015

I just got home from another beautiful 21-mile trek across the Grand Canyon on Monday, Oct. 26 . . . more photos (and of course words words words) will follow this brief, but extremely celebratory, post.

My little pocket camera’s date/time stamp came in handy as a way to track my progress (I did not carry a phone or other device with GPS capabilities, and it felt WAY too mentally taxing to take notes along the way), beginning with the first photo at the North Kaibab trailhead at 6:05 am, and ending with a picture at the top of the South Kaibab trail at 4: 44 pm . . . about 10 hours and 39 minutes from rim to rim.

Since my goal was to increase my pace from my Oct. 10, 2015, adventure (12 hours and 20 minutes) I was pleased . . . but . . . still a bit bummed that my old left knee pain, just like earlier this month, surfaced after five miles of downhill hiking. Back to the physio doctor I go . . .

Here’s a few photos . . . there are hundreds more (which may have slowed me down a bit, ya think?!), as well as lots of video bits which I hope to splice together into a movie some time after this weekend of family fun (nephew’s play, three granddaughters’ soccer games, visit to 89-year-old mom, etc.)

Here we go: with beginning temps in the chilly 30s (the North Rim is over 8,000 feet in elevation), this smile might have been a bit forced . . .

Here we go: with beginning temps in the chilly 30s (the North Rim is over 8,000 feet in elevation), this smile might have been a bit forced . . . my toes were dead-wood-numb for the first couple of miles, which was terrifying; I was sure I was losing them to frostbite right from the get-go, and my husband was hundreds of miles away, driving four + hours around to meet me at the South Rim.

After descending a couple thousand feet, things warmed up nicely for a day of perfect hiking temps . . . 60s-70s F.

After descending a couple thousand feet, things warmed up nicely for a day of perfect hiking temps . . . 60s-70s F. (And the feeling in my toes returned, with no residual effects. Whew . . . )

My latest photo challenge: barefoot shadow shots.

Trailside photo fun: barefoot shadow shots two hours into the trek. I took way more photos on the way down than on the way up the other side . . .

I had hoped the cool water of Bright Angel Creek (here, at the Cottonwood Campground seven miles into the hike) would sooth my sore knee. It seemed to help, some, but not enough to allow me to run as much as I had hoped.

I had hoped the cool water of Bright Angel Creek (here, at the Cottonwood Campground seven miles into the hike) would sooth my sore knee. It seemed to help, some, but not enough to allow me to run as much as I had hoped.

The slightest sound of dry grass crackling caught my attention: a trailside companion . . . the Grand Canyon pink rattlesnake. I was pleased that, to my

The slightest sound of dry grass crackling near the edge of the trail caught my attention: an inner canyon companion was enjoying the sun also . . .  a Grand Canyon pink rattlesnake. I was pleased to discover that, to my “flight-or-fight” brain, snakes have passed from objects of fright to creatures of interest, and I had zero adrenalin rush in response to this (very cool!) encounter. (Which was good, because I’d scared up a bit too much adrenalin fussing with my numb feet the first hour.)

What a mirage: what almost appears to be some sort of soaking tub at the Bright Angel Campground turned out to be . . . toilet flushing water! Buckets are available next to the toilets; users are supposed to dump a bucket of water into the toilet to create a flush . . . all because of water shut-offs due to pipeline repair in the area.

What a mirage: what almost appears to be some sort of fabulous soaking tub at the Bright Angel Campground turned out to be . . . toilet flushing water. Buckets are available next to the toilets; users are supposed to dump a bucket of water into the toilet to create a flush . . . all because of water shut-offs due to pipeline repair in the area.

Here I am emerging from the South Kaibab tunnel, ready to hike up 4,780 feet over seven miles. This photo is time-stamped just after 1 pm.

Here I am emerging from the South Kaibab tunnel, ready to hike up 4,780 feet over seven miles. This photo is time-stamped just after 1 pm (but I cropped it for dramatic effect). I LOVE hiking uphill, breathing through my nose only (it’s taken a year, but adds a weirdly positive effect to hiking), and the South Kaibab trail is a worthy challenge on which to try to never open my mouth . . . to gasp . . . for air . . . even as the elevation soars to 7,200 feet.

There are two ways out and up from Phantom Ranch; I chose the two-miles-shorter (but rather steeper) South Kaibab trail, which is pretty much nothing but step after step after step after . . .

Two miles shorter than the Bright Angel Trail, the South Kaibab is pretty much nothing but step after step after step after . . . kudos to the hardy souls who created and maintain it.

Finishing a rim-to-rim hike is bittersweet; you made it across, but now you have to leave the Canyon.

Finishing a rim-to-rim hike is bittersweet; you made it across, but now you have to leave the Canyon. The time stamp says “16:44” a total elapsed time 10 hours and 39 minutes from trailhead to trailhead. Thanks be to God . . . for the ability to enjoy this amazing place “at the speed of rock” . . . as fast as my bare feet could negotiate the ever-changing terrain of ancient stone.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2015 10:46 pm

    Thank you for this! I was never a runner until about 4 years ago in my mid-forties reading “Born to Run” and having to try out that thing that had always represented jarring, pounding misery. Still felt that way until I tried taking off my shoes. I’ve had my share of setbacks, mostly caused by overdoing it because it is so fun! I especially love running barefoot in the woods around here and use the many gravel areas to work on learning not to pound. Lately I’ve been barefoot hiking in the Olympic Mountains with my wife and friends. I sent them your video to show them I’m not totally crazy. Thank you for your inspiring blog!

    • November 13, 2015 8:26 am

      Hi Scott–Much appreciation for sharing your similar story . . . love your way with words: “that thing that had always represented jarring, pounding misery” — what a great definition of running in those years BB (Before Barefoot). That is cool (literally! less heat under the trees, I imagine) that you have forests to run in . . . and it sounds like you’ve read up on Barefoot KenBob’s philosophy of gravel: a surface that really teaches you how to relax. And . . . how honored I am that you sent my blog on to friends/relatives (mine all think I’m crazy too!). Hope it helps . . . Happy (Barefoot!) Trails, Thea

  2. October 31, 2015 4:17 am

    Congratulations on your time improvement but sorry about the knee. Thanks for sharing another great barefoot challenge. What a cool snake! I no longer get an adrenaline rush around snakes either but tiny paralysis ticks we have here still get my heart thumping a bit. Best wishes with the knee. 🙂

    • November 1, 2015 6:29 am

      Arrgghh! Tiny poisonous things! Your note made me much more appreciative of the lack of venomous critters in my “home ground” here in Southern California. From what I’ve been told, it seems that our local ticks that would otherwise carry Lyme disease have this pathogen removed/neutralized by passing through our western fence lizards . . . not sure how that works, but it works for me in terms on reducing worry. Your part of the world has WAY more challenges in terms of critters to beware of . . . so . . . Happy & Safe Trails to you 🙂

  3. Gina Barnes permalink
    October 30, 2015 12:41 pm

    Thea,

    This is a documentary waiting to be filmed. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your reports give me new (if vicarious) life!

    Gina Barnes Web Marketing The JESUS Film Project (949) 425-7546

    • November 1, 2015 6:25 am

      Thanks for the note, Gina. I also have my “vicarious life” reading the blogs of ultra-runners . . . sometimes I think it might be better training to actually be out running rather than scrolling through others’ ultra adventures 🙂

      • Gina permalink
        November 2, 2015 2:01 pm

        True, but if it weren’t for the encouragement of others’ stories, would we go as far as we do? Meeting you put a fire in me and got me to take my shoes off. Now I’m carrying a 45 lb backpack barefoot, training for the G.C. R2R. So, maybe there’s a little more than “vicarious” living going on…. Just sayin’.

Trackbacks

  1. Seven lessons learned in seven years of barefoot hiking/trail running | Barefoot Wandering and Writing
  2. Barefoot and Bitter: How Osteoporosis Just Took Trail Running Away From Me | Barefoot Wandering and Writing
  3. Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim: in the heat, in the dark, without shoes? | Barefoot Wandering and Writing
  4. The “Adventure After 50” takes its show on the road | Barefoot Wandering and Writing
  5. Barefoot running and more: what worked in 2015 | Barefoot Wandering and Writing
  6. New video of the barefoot Grand Canyon crossing (R2R) | Barefoot Wandering and Writing

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