Grand Canyon R2R2R
Back in September, Noel and I did a Rim to Rim to Rim run of the Grand Canyon broken up into two days. It was a couples getaway for masochists. My parents (who are now retired) came and watched the kids so we could do this madness. Honestly, my parents carry a lot of blame for this whole thing. They instilled a deep love in me for the Grand Canyon. I’ve been there several times and it was the location of my first backpacking trip. My parents have done R2R2R more than once and had a lot of pointers. Plus, they provided motivation: I just couldn’t stand that they’d done it and I hadn’t. We put a lot of practice and research into this trip. It definitely is not something a beginner should undertake. Our professional quality video of the experience is below and I go into more detail with more pictures as the post continues. I skim over a lot of stuff in this post, but if you ever want to attempt your own rim to rim (to rim) adventure, Noel or I would love to chat!
Cooper had a Cross-Country meet the day we left. Because we couldn’t hit the road very early, we just got a few hours out of town and stayed at a very lovely Sheraton in Vail, CO. The next day we finished our drive to the Grand Canyon where we took in the gorgeous views and did some carbo-loading.
Day 1 was a 24 mile trek from the North Rim to the South Rim via the North Kaibab trail and Bright Angel trail. We got an early start after a poor night’s rest. (Some geniuses were screaming at the top of their lungs at 1am.) He hit the trail before 6am in the dark. We made decent time going down with a few slow downs for exposed trail sections that tested Noel’s fear of heights.
We felt pretty good by the time we got to Phantom Ranch (about 13 miles). We spent a bit of time there refueling, but didn’t want to hang around long since the high that day was going to be over 100.
The hike out up the Bright Angel trail was tough. It was hot for how hard we were working, but we managed it alright with electrolyte beverages, salt tablets, and repeatedly dousing our clothes whenever we came across water. Our spirits were honestly pretty high for most of it.
We dragged ourselves over the edge and began looking for fuel. Because of Covid, several restaurants were closed. The place we got food from was out of sandwiches and I thought Noel was going to lose it. After getting a root beer float and some pretzel in him, he calmed down. We stayed in a lovely cabin pretty close to the rim. It was so nice to sleep in a bed, but there was also this linger dread and anxiety about the next day. We had to wake up early to catch the first shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead.
Day Two was 22 miles from South Rim to North Rim via the South Kaibab Trail to the North Kaibab trail. There were quite a few people starting out at the same time as us. The trail was a line of headlamps in the darkness. Watching the sunrise over the canyon was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life.
Running into the canyon was pretty jarring on our tired legs, but we kept a decent pace. The poles were absolutely necessary for stability and took a little impact off the knees.
Before we knew it, we were back at Phantom Ranch. We were starting to slow as we left Phantom. Our bodies were super tired and hot.
We stopped at Ribbon Falls for almost an hour. It was such an oasis for body and soul. I was getting really tired of all the sweet beverages and other fuel items we’d brought. We’d stopped at the Grand Canyon Village Market the night before and picked up a few things. The ranch corn nuts and cracker and processed cheese sandwiches I’d picked up seriously tasted like the most amazing thing I’d ever eaten.
The climb out was . . . rough. We didn’t take as many pictures because most of our energy was focused on that next step. There honestly wasn’t a lot of running happening at this point. Our second day was a Saturday and there were several other people/groups doing rim to rim adventures. We’d chat and slow motion pass each other. Eventually, we dragged our butts over the edge of the canyon. Our feet were blistered and we were pretty darn tired, but also so, so proud of how well everything had gone.
It wasn’t your usual couples getaway, but it really was a once in a lifetime experience. And we definitely didn’t feel guilty about treating ourselves afterward!