Hello everyone! There is a lot going on in the world of sports right now, including the Major League Baseball Playoffs and the first face-off of the National Hockey League regular season. So I know you are going to find it hard to believe that this week’s post isn’t about any of those things.
Today I’m hoping you’ll indulge me and let me share a little bit about my recent trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
It was a little over 3 years ago that I first heard the term “Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim” and unless you are an avid hiker or trail runner, those words are probably as foreign to you as they were to me. Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim literally means going from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other rim of the canyon, and then turning around and going back to the first rim again.
In our case, it meant going down the Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim to the Colorado River, then following the North Kaibab Trail across the base of canyon and up to the North Rim, and then reversing direction all the way back to the South Rim. It’s a total of 48 miles, and we were able to complete the trip in 1 day (and most of 1 night)!
Here’s our group, gathered at the Bright Angel Lodge for a 4am photo op before heading into the canyon. Recognize me in the middle, in the green shirt?
The first 5 miles between the South Rim and Indian Gardens Campground is downhill. We completed this section mostly in the dark, and saw the sunrise as we approached the campground:
The next 3.2 miles took us through a winding section called the Devil’s Corkscrew and down to the Colorado River:
We ran along the river for 1.5 miles and finally came to what is known as the Silver Bridge across the Colorado. Here we said goodbye to one member of the group, who needed to return to the South Rim so she could back to her teaching job.
The rest of us made our way through 0.5 miles from the Bright Angel Campground to the iconic Phantom Ranch, where we had to stop for the famous Lemmy (the best lemonade you will ever taste)!
The sun was fully up and the temperatures were rising as we made our way across the 6.8 mile base of the canyon to Cottonwood Campground:
We started to get a feel for the climbing ahead as we worked our way up 1.4 miles to the Pumphouse station:
And now the real climbing began as we hiked the 3.7 miles up to Supai Tunnel:
Just 1.7 miles to go until we reached the North Rim, with several breaks for pictures and to let the mule train pass:
We finally made it to the North Kaibab trail head on the North Rim, and paused there to let a few group members catch up. We said goodbye to 3 members of the group who had planned ahead to stay at the North Rim Lodge and take the shuttle back to the South Rim the next day. At some point during our 24 mile trip back, the rest of us were wishing we had done the same thing!
While the North Rim is truly beautiful, I should tell you that there isn’t much to see at the trail head itself, except for lots of trees. Unlike the South Rim, there are no views of the canyon unless you venture about a mile down the trail. And remember going down is much easier than the trek back up!
And now for the return trip, as we headed back down to Supai Tunnel:
Then on to Cottonwood Campground as darkness began to fall in the canyon:
I don’t have any pictures from the last 16 miles as we crossed the canyon and climbed up to the South Rim in the early morning hours. But I can tell you that the canyon is an amazing place in the dark. One of my favorite parts of the entire trip was standing at the bottom of the canyon, turning off our headlamps, and just admiring how the bright the stars can be when the sky is completely dark. I’ve heard that crossing the canyon under a full moon is an experience not to be missed, so it is on my bucket list.
Rim2Rim2Rim is a truly incredible adventure, but not one to be taken lightly. Our group all runs long distances and tackles some pretty good elevation change on a regular basis, but it was still a challenge to take on the climbing involved in the mile deep canyon. Two of my Georgia friends who were along for the fun now think that I’m a little crazy for wanting to do this a second time. Something to the tune of “she knew how hard this was, and still wanted to come back and do it again”?
Yes, it’s hard. But if you are up to it, it’s a rewarding way to experience the canyon and see it in a way that few people would ever even dream of!
After getting some sleep, we walked around the South Rim a little bit before departing. It was an interesting perspective to look down on the trail where we had just been the day before. See the green area in the middle of the picture? That’s Indian Garden Campground, which is about 5 miles away and 1 mile lower in elevation than where I was standing when taking the picture:
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? If not, is it something you want to do someday? Comment below and share your experiences!
Until next week,
P.S. If you’d like to see all of photos I took, check out my album on Google photos.