The pictures taken here were done on my camera which I carried with me. Some are not great, some are pretty good… either way, I am stoked that I brought the camera with me on this endeavor. The pics are: Pic #1: Scott Drum coming down the South Kaibab Trail early in the day. Pic #2: A beautiful late afternoon photo from one of our ‘resting spots’ on the way out of the canyon at the end of the day. Pic #3: Photo of the ‘3 amigos’ Tim Parr, Scott Drum, and Duncan Callahan at the South Kaibab trailhead; moments before departing on the adventure. Pic #4: Scott Drum coming through the tunnel just prior to crossing the river bridge at bottom of Canyon; just prior to Phantom Ranch. Pic #5: Scott Drum and Duncan Callahan at the North Rim, North Kaibab Trailhead sign, 4:00 hrs. in. Also, see photo album link to the right: Grand Canyon R2R2R, Oct. 2008.
The Grand Canyon is more impressive than I ever could have imagined. No doubt about it. This trip was one of the greatest adventures I have ever had. No doubt about it. The main objective of the trip was to attempt to set a speed record on the Rim-To-Rim-To-Rim trails; South Rim to South Kaibab down to Phantom Ranch, and up to Cottonwood, Roaring Springs, and up the North Kaibab trail to The North Rim; and back the same way, 42.5 miles in one outing. Tim Parr (Gunnison Speed Demon) was attempting to break Dave Mackey’s record of 6hrs. 59min. 57 sec. In our estimation, Tim had a really good chance. Scott Drum, and I were attempting to support Parr while completing the run ourselves in under 9hrs. We thought we had a chance. Jesse Crandall, Summer Ruckman (coolest name ever) and Becky Sears would be attempting to enjoy themselves on an all day hike, and complete the R2R2R as well.
We left Gunnison at 4pm on Thursday the 16th in caravan fashion; Scott, Becky, and Me in one car and Jesse and Summer in the other. Tim Parr hitch-hiked down on Friday, and beat us there!! We intended to drive halfway and camp somewhere by the ‘4-corners region’ that night and we did find a ‘pay campground’ right by a Casino west of Cortez, CO. Scott and I headed out for a 20 min shake-out jog around the area, it was pleasant, with a strong wind coming from the East. I ended up sleeping on a picnic table. It was just a super good night to sleep outside. We awoke to gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape, and proceeded to eat ‘Crandall Breakfast Burrittos’. Then we packed up and drove to ‘Monument Valley’ for a gourgeous run on the desert dirt around the amazing rock formations. Incredible. After this we drove down to the Grand Canyon, found our campsite on the South Rim, and went on another short 20 min. ‘shake-out jog’. After a solid dinner and a little star gazing on the edge of the canyon, it was time to turn in for a good night’s sleep: we certainly were going to need it for the endeavor tomorrow.
We awoke early on Saturday, October 18, 2008, ate some oatmeal, downed some coffee, and were at the trailhead for sunrise. The views were fantastic as we departed and cranked down to Phantom Ranch. At the bottom of the canyon, it was clear, even at 7:30 am, that it was going to be a warm day. Tim started his record attempt just behind Scott and I starting, and we traded out hand bottles with him halfway down the South side. We also passed Jesse, Becky and Summer who had started hiking prior to us. The trails seemed very busy with a good crowd for the morning. We pushed our way through the bottom, up the false-flat to ‘Cottonwood’, ‘Roaring Springs’, and then pushed on up the North Kaibab trail.. we were moving very well. On our way up that trail, we spotted Tim on his way down (he was looking very strong and focused) again, I swapped out bottles and provided him with more shot blocks and gels. Scott and I made it to the top of the North Rim at 8300′ at 4hrs. even. We took a good picture there (see below) and were then on our way back.
Pic #5: Scott and Me halfway through, at North Rim Trail Sign.
Jesse, Becky, and Summer proceeded on, and made the entire R2R2R in about 13 hrs. They speed hiked and pushed their limits back up the South Side. Reports abound that Jesse (after consuming a ‘Red Bull’) was at times actually sprinting up out of the Canyon. Tim’s record attempt failed. Tim made it back to Phantom Ranch in just over 5 hours (ahead of record pace), but on the last 7 mile climb back up and out of the canyon, up The South Kaibab Trail, Tim simply ‘blew up’. We assume it was a combination of it being Tim’s longest run ever, and a lack of electrolytes. Tim still managed to run 7:45: 7 hrs. 45 min., a highly respectable time. As for Scott and I: we pushed on. On the way back down the North Rim, Scott set a quick pace, and we bombed back down to ‘Roaring Springs,’ where I took over the pacing duties and we flew down to ‘Cottonwood’ and into the canyon again and on to Phantom Ranch. Scott had a rough patch about 3 miles prior to Phantom Ranch, but doggedly hung in and re-grouped nicely. It was about then (at Phantom Ranch) (6 hrs. 15 min total time) when I began to feel ‘off.’ I felt hot, and was sweating a lot: more than I should have been. I began to feel slightly nauseous as we filled up water at Phantom before covering the last 7 miles. After a very short break, we started up again, I began to feel weak, even more nauseous and very tired. As we crossed the River Bridge I began to puke… right on the bridge itself!!! I was extremely hot and fully exposed to the sun; so I staggered into the tunnel to hide in the shade.
As we left the shelter of the tunnel and began to climb again, it was clear that this was going to be a very long climb out of the Canyon.The short story: I continued to puke out everything, grow increasingly weak, and felt overheated. The temperature in the bottom of the canyon was in the high ’80’s’. I was not prepared for that kind of heat. My stomach was not holding anything and the gels, bars, and blocks that we had held zero appeal to me. At this point, we concluded that I simply was low on electrolytes as I had not brought any electrolyte pills or sport drink, and instead had over-hydrated with water. (Clearly I was not thinking prior to this run. I mean, come on, why did I not bring any electrolyte product with me? Good question!) Fortunately Scott elected to stay with me (Thanks Man!!), and as I was bent over ‘dry-heaving’ or lying down, trying to find some energy, he asked any and all hikers that he could for either sport drink, Coca-Cola, or salty foods. I munched on some peanuts, and crackers that some very nice hikers gave me, and that seemed to help. With a little new-found strength, we started moving again, slowly (we still had 5 miles to go). Once we popped back out into the sun however, I lost it again. It began with an extremely weak feeling, followed by heavy nausea, and then by puking, and dry heaving, and then I would lay down again, and attempt to regroup. This process happened maybe five times, and then we found a very nice couple who gave us most of 1 liter of gatorade (Thank you!!!!). This helped energize me to move well for a while.
At this point, Scott was beginning to suffer as well (we were out there for a long time). We continued this process as the sun went down, and we eventually staggered the last 20 minutes in mostly-darkness. We made it to the top, took the cermemonial picture, (our official time was 11hrs. 48 min) chased down the bus, and made it back to our car. During this time period of roughly 20 minutes, I was seeing ‘black streaks’ in my field of vision; but I knew I would be alright and I just needed to get back to the car, get some gatorade, and begin to eat chips and pretzels. Once we made it to the car, and then the store, and then the showers, I had held down 2-liters of gatorade, 1-liter of pepsi, and enough chips and pretzels to kill someone. All this felt very good, and I realized I still felt ‘okay.’ My legs were not trashed, and my body was generally okay. Great news which implied that the only thing I lacked for the run was electrolyte pills or sport drink. If only I wasn’t such an idiot…..