Posts Tagged :

    Grand Canyon

    Grand Canyon Ups and Downs

    800 600 Terri Rylander

    I giggled to myself with excitement when the plans were confirmed. We were crossing the Grand Canyon again!

    Karen, Gary, and I set a date, or rather the availability of rooms set our date for late October. Just after the North Rim closed. Given my health issues this past year and how I had been feeling, I was anxious to prove I was still ok. Also, I was anxious to show my new friend Karen the Canyon as a one day trip. She had backpacked across previously but never done a single day crossing. She wasn’t sure she could!

    We decided to camp out the night before at the North Rim campground. Karen got there first and saved a spot. Gary and I drove up together, arriving just after her. We set up camp, then wandered around the campground and visited the lodge. Looking across the canyon, I anticipated the next day’s crossing. I was sure it would go well.

    My trusty companions

    We started just after sunrise, about 7am. It really wasn’t cold and we had a nice jog down the first few miles. That is, until Karen took a spill and powdered her face and cut her hand. She was ok and we continued on. It was a pretty day and mostly uneventful down to Phantom Ranch where we stopped for a snack and drink.

    From there, we started up the hill. Bright Angel trail is a beast and the day was warming up. I soaked my shoes in every stream crossing but they dried quickly. I was doing really well…until I wasn’t. With four miles to go, at Indian Gardens, I started falling apart.

    It was like all of the sudden I had nothing. Nothing but a gut ache. I had no energy left and felt nauseous. Karen and Gary were a ways ahead but then would stop and wait. I would take 10 steps and was out of breath. With three miles to go, I threw up but there was nothing there but the remains of the water I was sipping. I think it took three hours to go three miles. It was sheer misery.

    Having waited for quite a while at the top, Gary came back down to look for me and coaxed me up. It was long after dark. Just out of the canyon, I had to throw up again so crouched by the sidewalk trying not to be noticed. We waited for the bus to take us to the lodge, but when it came, it was packed. I tried to wave it on, but the people on the bus offered seats. I prayed I wouldn’t throw up on the bus.

    I made it through the 20 minute bus ride and we got checked in. Unfortunately, it was another half mile or more walk to our room. I suggested we get food at the cafeteria before heading to the room. I sat with my head on the table while Gary and Karen ate. A wave of nausea hit me again and I threw up on the table with my head in my arms, hoping no one would notice. Once I got back to the room and laid down, I started to feel better.

    Grand Canyon never disappoints!

    The next day I was totally fine. We had a nice breakfast, except for the horrible service. It was so bad, I complained to the manager and she comped our meal and gave us lunch free too! We toured the canyon having a completely enjoyable day. Karen and I even earned our Junior Ranger badges!

    Spectacular sunrise on South Kaibab

    Heading down the canyon on South Kaibab at sunrise is always a treat. The views are spectacular and you feel one with the canyon. I did my best to stay hydrated, even chugging my water bottle empty as we approached Phantom Ranch. I avoided their lemonade and drank another bottle of water instead. As we geared up, my stomach suddenly felt ill. I quickly ran over to the bushes and threw up again!

    Crap! Now what? There is no way out except up. And, I certainly didn’t want to hold back my companions. What the heck? After sitting for a few minutes, I felt better. But now, I was angry. Why me? Why do I have that body? I offered to take Gary’s hiking poles and then stormed ahead. I hiked fast and hard. It’s funny what anger can do. I stayed 10-15 minutes ahead of them all along Bright Angel to the ranger station.

    That’s where the climb really starts. I have always done fine here, surprisingly. This time was fine too. A little tougher but ok. The last two miles were tough and they were out quite a bit before me, but I made it. We hit Jacob’s Lake for dinner and a room with a shower.

    Overall, it was another wonderful but challenging crossing. Karen did excellent. Gary was strong and supportive as always. Me? I’m still a work in progress.

    When R2R2R is your B Race

    800 428 Terri Rylander

    I know this whole running and racing thing is new, but I just don’t get how people can stick to a training plan and still do other activities, i.e., live life.  One suggestion I have heard is to categorize your races (or events) into A and B groups. Your A race is your top priority and your B race you do for training and/or fun and it counts toward training for your A race.

    Well, I noodled with this one for a while with the Grand Canyon crossing coming up.  I finally decided it was my B race and the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run is my A race. I guess that made me feel ok about it being part of my overall training plan. My schedule (which I’ve hardly followed at all yet for this A race) calls for longer miles with back to back runs on the weekend, so hey….that works.

    2013MayGC_1On May 16, three of us set off for the North Rim. Gary and I picked Candy up at the Las Vegas airport and took a side trip through Zion on the way. We arrived at the North Rim about sunset, took some requisite tourist snapshots and had dinner inside the lodge. It wasn’t bad and was somewhat reasonably priced. The North Rim park had just opened the day before and the workers at the lodge were still working out some early-season kinks. Back at our cabin, we packed our packs and went to bed in anticipation of an early morning rise and drive to the North Kaibab trailhead.

    2013MayGC_2At about 6:30am, we headed down into the big ditch. I told myself I wasn’t going to run as fast and as hard as the first time, the time I shredded my calves and could hardly walk for a week, including fearing the return trip. Movement down the canyon is pretty easy and almost begs to be ran, so I did. The trail has many steps made of either logs or stones sticking up, most of which you need to jump over. But, I felt pretty good and we did stop for several photos since it was Candy’s first time. I mean, you really do need to take in the scenery!

    2013MayGC_3We cruised along down the North Kaibab trail, following Bright Angel creek. We took Candy on a 1+ mile side trip to Ribbon Falls, which is this really cool water fall that tumbles down a cone-shaped rock that has been overgrown with moss.  There were lots of people there playing in the water and generally having a good time. We hung out for a while, took lots of pictures, and headed back out to the trail, precariously crossing Bright Angel creek over stones instead of backtracking to the bridge.

    2013MayGC_4After heading down the canyon further, through what I call the desert section which is very exposed, we dropped into the box where the canyon narrows. You can mark your progress by crossing the 4 bridges along the way to Phantom Ranch. The day started out warmer than last time by about 10 degrees and we started about an hour later. This concerned me since we were now set to attack the climb out in the afternoon. I was pretty hot already and sweating pretty hard. You can see in the photo how sweaty and red-faced I was. This will turn out not to be a good thing.

    2013MayGC_5I told Candy I was concerned I didn’t have a lot of energy, figuring it was more about the motivation to climb 5000ft in the direct sun. She empathized and we carried on anyway. Gary and Candy were ahead of me for most of the first several miles, but I’m used to that. At some point, Candy kept going and Gary slowed to stay with me. A couple times, we crossed a stream and I got in at every chance!  It was cold, wet, and wonderful.  It cooled my core temperature, but didn’t do much for my stomach that seemed to be getting worse. By Indian Gardens, I was feeling pretty bad. Gary was kind enough to carry my pack for me. How did I get so lucky to find such a great running partner?

    2013MayGC_6By the three mile house, he made me sit and cool down. I was so afraid I was going to throw up. I sat there and tried to breathe steadily and take sips of water. It was an odd thing that immediately after swallowing each sip, my mouth was still as dry as cotton. He also asked me to take an S-cap. I reluctantly said ok and while trying to swallow it, almost lost everything in my stomach.  It took about 10 minutes to settle down before I could get up and sort of feel human again. I’m pretty sure it was a combo of heat exhaustion and dehydration. I stood in the water faucet trying to get cool and wet again, but it wasn’t easy given it’s configuration. We set out again. Even though we knew there was only 3 miles left–3 miles!–I knew it would still probably take 2 hours!

    2013MayGC_7As I knew would happen eventually, we made it out, cleaned up, and went to dinner. Saturday was for sightseeing. Although I did that just 6 months ago, this was more for Candy since she hadn’t been there. Gary has been several times.  Still, it was fun and the three of us laughed and did silly things along the way. We put a do-rag on Gary’s head, we mimicked the signs we found, pretended we were jumping or falling off the cliff, and a number of fun things. You can see the evidence in my photo album.  That night we went back for sunset but, unfortunately, it was somewhat obscured by clouds and wasn’t that great.

    2013MayGC_8Suddenly it was Sunday and time to head back. I was pleased that my calves were not shredded like last time, so I’d be able to run. That’s not to say they didn’t hurt!  But, this is my MOST favorite part of the trip–South Kaibab at sunrise. Although we hit the trail at 5:30am, it was still a little on the late side for sunrise, but the colors were still fabulous! Every single section of this trail is stunning. You float right down with vistas that go for miles. And, with it being only 7 miles long, you’re to the bottom in no time. I really felt great and made sure I drank a LOT.

    2013MayGC_9Once again, I found it odd that the trip back up to the North Rim seemed easier than the trip up the South Rim. Partly I think it’s because you get down to the bottom so quickly from the south and aren’t as tired. Plus, because you get there quicker, it’s earlier in the day and still cooler. Lastly, once you turn the corner away from Bright Angel creek and really start to climb, you’re mostly in the shadows on the narrowing canyon. Still, it’s not easy and I was getting pretty tired. Fortunately, I still felt ok this time. After having to wait for THREE mule trains in a row to pass, I made it out in 7:45. Gary tells me that’s pretty good. 🙂

    2013MayGC_10So, now I’m curious about how long the crossing *could* take if we didn’t stop for pictures and focused on just getting there. I’m guessing I could get somewhere around 7 hours from south to north but not sure about north to south. It would be great if we had support and didn’t have to carry our supplies (food/clothes/sundries) across each way. I would also be sure to be fully rested before each crossing. Lastly, I would start each crossing before sunrise to take advantage of as much coolness as possible. One day I’ll give it a try. But for now, I accomplished my B race. 46 miles and 11K elevation gain. I think that’s pretty good, don’t you?