the alarm went off, and we groggily crawled out of our sleeping bags, both immediately noticing how warm it felt outside. predicted temperatures were for the 20s. there was no way it could be that cold...turned out it was in the mid-40s. the day would only get warmer, so we downed some oatmeal and coffee and moved toward the trailhead.
john and i had been tossing around the idea of running rim to rim to rim in the grand canyon for much of the summer. alaska airline's pfd sale and a companion ticket made it a reality.
i won't go into logistics, as there's already a good description here. but we chose to run down the south kaibab trail, up the north kaibab, and back the way we came. making the route approximately 42 miles with 21,420 feet of elevation change.
we started early (about 4ish) to beat the mule train. running down the south kaibab by headlamp was amazing. i wish i had come back the next morning to do a time lapse with my camera of the runners going down. we had parties ahead and behind us, giving a really cool perspective on the elevation we were quickly loosing.
i was really happy for the headlamp start. unlike running in the mountains, with the canyon, you can see the entire route from the south rim if you know where to look. on friday night, i didn't know where to look. sunday, i was able to spot where we went, and had a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
we shared the canyon with about about 8 or 9 other runners. it was neat to hear where people were from (haiti, finland, california, colorado, new york) and to chat a little at water stops. wandering around on sunday to see the visitor centers and overlooks, it was easy to identify each other even in our street cloths. we all were doing a painful looking shuffle...
the south and north kaibab trails are super different. the south is on a ridge line, so you get big expansive views of the canyon. the north is tucked into a side canyon and has a much more intimate feel. the rims are different too. the north is higher, and has a really beautiful aspen and pine forest.
my favorite part of the whole day was watching the light change in the canyon. we finished before sunset, but not by much, which was great because the evening light was really beautiful.
we topped out right at magic light time, wandered back to the car, cooked up some food, and tried to sleep. sleep didn't really work, given how abused our bodies felt. we gave up when we realized it was only 10p and sat in the car listening to the radio and eating snacks and taking additional pain killers for about an hour.
in the morning, we got up to see the sunrise over the canyon with the rest of the park visitors. it was amazing and definitely worth the early morning (my initial reaction to john asking if i wanted to get up was in favor of my sleeping bag...pretty glad my desire to see more of the canyon kicked in after about 5 seconds).