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 . . . 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. (And the feeling in my toes returned, with no residual effects. Whew . . . )
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.
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 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 (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.
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. 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.