The 3 dude crew: Casey hill recently moved to Ashland Oregon and also handcrafts amazing bags from race numbers. He raced roadbikes in Europe a few years ago and is a great mountain biker. He took 3rd place at marathon MTB nationals last season and in his college days was a very fast duathlete. Jason Michalak (hairy jason) is always down for adventure and is a pro XTERRA triathlete. He grew up swimming and running and is fast at everything. We race most adventure races together. He lives in Crested Butte now and is pretty much a mountain man...even though he can't ski very good. Then myself...some Xterra, some adventure racing, running, cx, mtb. I'm up for anything that sounds fun and challenging. We all decided running the whole grand canyon would be a cool epic trip..it was.
The views on the descent into the canyon where amazing...the sun was coming up and we were all alone on the trail. I won't even try to describe the level of awesome. The 9 mile descent went crazy fast and before we knew it we where at the Colorado river. It was roughly 6:45am and we had been running since 5am. We started to see a few backpackers coming back up from phantom camp...most asked us our plans or route...shock was the normal reaction, a few seemed impressed. Which is the only reason we do this stuff, just to impress people. I'm not sure how long some of these hikers would take to get back up the canyon (9miles) as many of them did not look anything close to fit or prepared. There are signs all over the place in the Grand Canyon warning people not to attempt to hike to river and back in one day...after seeing some of these folks at the top parts of the trails it is probably a really great idea to have these signs. Of course "elite" people like us can ignore these signs...it's cool.
We filled up our packs with water at Phantom Camp and started up the gradual climb. We see a sign stating 13.4 miles to north rim (that is were we are going if you are slow)...Jason says "Wow, next time we see this sign we will have done a long marathon" Its basically 13 miles up, then 13 down....Pretty rad and pretty daunting at the same time since we have been going for 9-10 miles, plus we would have another 6-7 back up when we did pass this little sign again much later in the day. One of our goals with this little adventure was to have fun and truly enjoy the trip and hopefully all 3 of us complete the whole darn thing.
The next 13 miles up to the north rim was both harder and easier than I thought it would be...confused? We all kept eating and drinking and seemed to be in good shape after 6hrs and 24 miles. It was cold and sleeting on us at the top of North rim...we saw 3 other runners coming down so we weren't the only "elite people" out here..its ok. The steep upper descent went fast and when we filled up with water we only had 7 miles left to get to phantom camp. These 7 miles of slight downhill were brutal, and we all were feeling the real affects of 8hrs and 20+ miles of pounding on the legs...strange right? The last 1.5 miles to Phantom felt like 5. 37 miles in we refilled with water at Phantom and ate some more calories...the people mingling around the camp just looked at us like we worked at a mall kiosk. We each brought about 2000 calories of food (chews, nuun, gu, bars, rice chips, even some jerky) we knew we would need to consume 120-200 calories each hour throughout the day to keep things rolling. Obviously we would burn way more (about 8-9000 colories burned) but you can only process so much when your running or fast hiking. We felt somewhat refreshed and ready to attack the last section of our day. Simple right?...only 7 miles of climbing (mostly hiking) up to the top....brutal? Yes. It was a death march and we all had spaced out at our own paces to suffer in a solo silence of torture. Timed dragged and legs burned but we still made ok time and hit the top at 12hrs exactly. It was slightly anti-climatic since it was windy, freezing cold, and no tourists to impress with our amazing feats of strength.
We hopped on the bus and rode the few miles back to our car, lets just say the level of satisfaction was high. We made it, we laughed, we suffered, we cried (not really). We got to experience the entire Grand Canyon like few people can. It was totally worth the 3 days of soreness and limping that followed.
coming up north rim (about 20miles in)
Descending bright angel trail (south rim)
View from overlook...we ran to the other end and back.
almost done but suffering