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R2R2R Trip Notes

Oct. 8, 1988
My first R2R2R, a 3-day trip with a Honeywell group. I was informed of this event by coworker Dennis Alliss who had participated on a previous annual trip. The event itself is organized by Bill Maxwell and includes 2 nights in a NR cabin. Family members of the hikers drive around to shuttle overnight bags for hikers. Over 100 people participate, either by walking across or driving around. I drive from Phoenix to the South Rim in the early morning hours and start down the SK at 6:15am with coworker Rich Weimer. My time to the river is fairly fast for my first R2R2R, at 2:15 hours. This is actually only my second GC hike and second time to the river. Rich and I stay together, but he slows around Cottonwood and I push on ahead. Feeling good, I climb from Aiken's house to NR in a respectable 2:04. When I finally reach the NR at 2:09pm (7:54 hour crossing), I am spent enough that I find it hard to walk over to stone kiosk to sit down. After a few minutes rest, I walk on to the lodge and check in. I am splitting a half-cabin with a pleasant Honeywell employee named Karl, who I had never met before. One of my coworkers, Tim Lange, is here. He had intended to push across for time, but sprained his ankle early on the SK. His ankle looks quite swollen, but he will tape it up and walk back two days later. While in bed late at night, I watch with some amusment as a mouse goes back and forth between a hole in the outside wall and my cabin partner's bag of trail mix, which is sitting on a chair. The full day of doing nothing on the NR is paradisiacal. On the 3rd day, I start back at 6:26am and have a pleasant, but uneventful return trip. I feel good the whole way and climb out the SK from the river in 2:40 hours, reaching the South Rim at 2:20pm for a 7:54 hour reverse crossing (same time as first crossing.
Oct. 7, 1989
This is another 3-day Honeywell trip organized by Bill Maxwell. Coworkers and friends Doug Minderlen and Alan Jacobson go along on this one, a first R2R for each of them and the 2nd for me. I drive up and start alone this year at 6:00am. Early, above Cedar Ridge, I briefly take my eyes off the trail and fall, tearing the skin off of my palms in a few places. A little later, I run for 20 min down the SK to make up time for an expected 10 min bathroom stop to wash and treat my hands. With the running, I get to the river faster this year... 1:33 hours; however, I vow never to run a R2R for time as I believe it would take the fun out of it. (Ha! I didn't know what the following years would bring.) I walk briskly across the bottom and then push up from Aiken's house to the rim in 2:06 hours... another decent time for the big climb out. I arrive at the NR at 12:26pm for a 6:26 hour crossing, nearly 1-1/2 hours faster than last year. Al Kremer sets a Honeywell fastest known time this year of 4:02 hours for a south to north crossing, at least that's the fastest time that I know of for a Honeywell person. I am told later that he crossed back from north to south on the 3rd day in under 4 hours. The weather is gorgeous for the entire 3 days. Once again, we all enjoy a wonderful rest day on the NR, with good weather and fall colors. For the return trip on the third day, I did not record clock times for start and finish, but do have an 8:30 hour crossing time recorded. That included a stop at Ribbon Falls along the way back. When walking through the box, I follow a few hundred yards behind coworker Tim Bowar and wife and marvel to myself at how fast they are walking. I keep up, but I'm pushing to do so.
May 5, 1990
This is my first year for an all-in-one-day R2R2R. Doug Minderlen came up with the idea of running all the way across, spending a night (or two) on the North Rim, and then running all the way back. I knew that there was no way I could run the entire way, especially the uphill sections, so I countered with an alternative to running: "let's do it all in one day". As one who likes challenges, Doug agreed. Our plan is to push for time, including running as much as we can. We don't know what kind of times to expect, but after walking across last year in 6:26 hours, I feel pretty confident that by running some of the way I should be able to break 6 hours for the first crossing. Doug and I are both apprehensive about the return trip, since we remember how exhausted we were after a one way crossing the previous year. Neither of us know if we will hold up okay or will fall apart on the way back. We drive up the night before with idea of sleeping somewhere in the bed of Doug's pickup truck, but with no real plan as to where. We end up sleeping at the SK trailhead in the back of the truck. The following morning, we start together at 5:00am, but soon string out with no plan to stay together. We each are racing the clock, but not each other. Being the faster runner, I take the lead with Doug running second. We push for time and I make it down to the river in 1:17 hours and then run perhaps 2/3 of the way to Cottonwood. Really it's more of a jog than a run. Doug may have run more than 2/3 of that section, but we weren't together so I don't know. I feel good and push as much as I can. All the way across, time is of the essence and stops at Phantom and Cottonwood are kept to only a few minutes, just long enough to fill water bottles. I charge up the NK and make it to the Coconino Overlook in 4:54 hours from the start. I am suddenly energized, thinking that I have a shot at a 5 hour crossing, but it's longer from the Overlook to the rim than I realize and I don't make it in 5 hours. I reach the NR at 10:06am, for a crossing time of 5:06 hours. After 12 min on NR, Doug hasn't arrived and I head back at 10:18am. I wasn't originally planning on a 12 hour RT, but think now that there may be a chance. I push on, loosely going for the 12 hour RT. I feel pretty good all the way back, running much of the way across the bottom, and make it back to Phantom Ranch in decent time. My feet and legs are tired, but I am otherwise surviving okay. I leave the Black Bridge at 2:00pm and, unexpectedly, nausea sets in as soon as I start up the SK. The climb out is an uncomfortable struggle all the way - I feel miserable and take lots of breaks, with my body telling me that it wants to stop. The climb out from the river takes 3:26 hours and I finish at 5:26pm, feeling nauseous all the way. My reverse crossing time is 7:08 hours and RT is 12:26 hours. I find out later that Doug suffered from nausea too on the way out.
May 18, 1991
Doug and I drive up and sleep in back of truck again at the SK TH. Tim Lange is along on this trip too for his first one-day R2R2R. The wind is pretty fierce all night and we don't sleep well. After last year's near miss, Doug and I are serious about goals of 5 hours across and 12 hours RT (hereafter referred to by Doug and I as "5-12"). Tim is quite fit and will go for it too. I just keep thinking... shave a few minutes here, a few there, and I'll make my goals. We start down the SK at 5:00am. Pushing for time again, it takes me 59 min to run down to the river, already 18 minutes ahead of last year's time! Tim was with me most of the way and we were both ahead of Doug, but when I reach the river I turn around and find that Tim has fallen behind. I run/jog much of the way to Cottonwood, spanning the distance from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood in 1:19 hours. I push on up from Aiken's climbing as briskly as I can and running only the few flat spots on the NK. It takes me 1:48 hours from Aiken's to the rim, including 41 min from the Supai tunnel to the rim. Total crossing time is 4:42 hours. I made my goal of 5 hours across and am HAPPY! I spend 13 min on NR during which time Tim shows up, also meeting the sub-5 hour goal. Tim waits for awhile and I start back at 9:55am, hurrying and going for the 12 hr RT. I run and trot much of the way back to Phantom Ranch, but I am tired and concerned about overextending myself. The memory of last year's nausea is fresh in my mind. I reach Phantom at 1:06pm and leave the river at 1:32pm. I expect nausea again, but it doesn't come so I push. The nausea stays away this year and that allows me to climb out from the river in 2:42 hours. I reach the South Rim at 4:10pm for a reverse crossing time of 7:08 hours and a RT time of 11:10 hours. Happy! Tim arrives within a half hour, also beating the 12 hour RT goal. Doug arrives more than an hour later, with a 13-something hour RT. Tim keeps saying that it was too hard and he'll never do it again. Doug and I feel the same way momentarily, but are already thinking about next year's trip on the way home. We will be back, but Tim won't.
Sep. 12, 1992
Something different this time... our first nighttime walk across, which we have planned to coincide it with a full moon. Doug and I drive up after work (we both work at Honeywell) and start down the SK at 10pm. It's a gorgeous, warm, brightly moonlit night and flashlights are not needed except for in the shadows. It takes 2:10 hours to reach the river where we pause for a 30 min break. We then stroll through Phantom Ranch and continue on to Cottonwood for another 30 min break. It's 3am now and our bodies are feeling like we should be sleeping. We feel and fight the urge to stop, sit, or lie down. It just doesn't feel right to be up and awake at this hour. We persevere and climb up the NK, now walking in shadows by flashlight most of the way. During a 13 min stop at the Supai Tunnel, a backpacking couple overtakes us, having recently left Cottonwood. We are surprised that they are so close behind us, when they are hauling overnight packs and we are comparatively, lightly loaded. We climb on and charge hard above the tunnel and are somewhat surprised that we don't catch the more heavily loaded backpacking couple. They must be in awesome shape to move so fast with full loads. Or maybe we're just not going as fast as we think. We reach the NR in early morning light at 6:26am, for an 8:26 hour crossing. Our plan is to walk on to the lodge for their buffet breakfast in the dining room, which is what we do. After breakfast, we retire to the lodge observation rooom to try and catch a few hours of sleep on the padded chairs. It's not comfortable and we don't really get any sleep. After a couple of hours, we give up the idea and think about heading back. Doug leaves first and I follow 30 minutes later. I start back down the NK at 12:45pm. I am now wide awake now in the midday sun and it feels like a completely new trip. I hustle back, walking only, but briskly. It's wonderful to be here and to have the bright sun. I arrive at Phantom, water up, and leave the river at 5:57pm. Doug is still somewhere ahead. A couple of hours later, High on the SK in waning light, I see Doug's flashlight bobbing ahead in the chimney. I try to catch him, but make up no ground. I'm tired and he is moving too fast. I finish shortly after dark at 8:27pm by moonlight and flashlight, for a 7:42 hour reverse crossing time and 22:25 hour RT. My river to rim time is 2:30 hours, which is a new PR for me. Doug is awake enough to drive home, so we do. The moonlight crossing was fun and fresh and something that we will do again.
May 22, 1993
I'm pushing for time again this year, but am doing this one alone. I don't remember why Doug didn't go. I start down the SK at 5:00am, running, and make it to the river in 56 min. I'm in good shape and run much of the way from Phantom to Cottonwood, covering the 5.5 miles in 1:18 hours (good for me). I push hard up the NK hoping for a new best crossing time and it takes me 1:56 hours to climb from Aiken's house to the rim. During a 5 minute stop at the Supai Tunnel, I am feeling fairly spent and am suddenly not caring much about a best crossing time. Nevertheless, I struggle on and am pleasantly surprised to see that when I reach the North Rim at 9:41am, I have improved my PR crossing time by 1 minute to 4:41 hours. At only 9:41am, it's still early in the morning. I hang out for only 7 minutes and then get going again at 9:48am. I push, hoping for a good RT time. I still feel well and arrive back at Phantom in 3:20 hours. I leave the river at 1:08pm and climb out the SK in 2:57 hours, finishing at 4:05pm for a new RT PR of 11:05 hours; 5 minutes faster than in 1991. I didn't know it at the time, but this would be the fastest I would do, i.e., my all time PR.
Oct. 21, 1994
I'm doing another night hike this year and am going alone again. Once again, I don't remember why Doug didn't go. Perhaps I just wanted to do a night hike by myself(?). I drive up after work and start down the SK at 10:00pm for another brilliant moonlit night hike. The walk over to the NR is uneventful, but once again it doesn't feel right to be awake during the nighttime hours and my body feels like it should be sleeping. Climbing up the NK, nearing the Supai tunnel, a cold wind blows and I pause to put on my Goretex jacket. That keeps me plenty warm, enough so that a little later I suddenly overheat from exertion and nearly panic when trying to find the zipper on my jacket in order to unzip and get some cool air. I top out on the NR at 5:50am, around sunrise, for a 7:50 hour crossing. It's quite cool and I walk on to the lodge for a buffet breakfast in the dining room. This is the last day of the season on the North Rim and the last day for the lodge to be open. After breakfast, I again try sleeping in a padded chair in the observation room, but as in 1992 it is not especially comfortable and I don't get any sleep. Sleeping in the chair seems pointless and after only an hour or so, I walk back to the NK trailhead and start back across at 8:50am. The return trip is pleasant and, as before, feels like a completely different trip than the walk over. The bright sun helps to wake me and push away the cobwebs. I stroll back to Phantom Ranch, then leave the river and start up the SK at 2:07pm. I arrive at the South Rim at 4:50pm for a 2:43 hour climb out from the river, an 8:01 hour reverse crossing, and an 18:51 hour RT. It's still relatively early, so I clean up and drove home cautiously, fully aware that I haven't had any sleep for 1-1/2 days.
Oct. 8, 1995
I'm doing yet another night hike this year for the second year in a row; however, this year I will be starting from the North Rim. This is a group hike organized by me for about 15 of my Honeywell coworkers. It will be a 3-day crossing for the others, with 2 nights on the NR, but my own R2R2R will be done as a one-day push. I will walk across in the moonlight, meet up with my coworkers, and then walk back with them. My R2R2R will be over at that point, whereas they will walk back 2 days later. The coming week will be a very active one for me, since I will be meeting my parents on the NR after my R2R2R and will then do a couple of different adventures with them. I take a half day off work and drive to the NR for my starting point. I start down the NK trail at 8:00pm and walk down a few switchbacks with coworker Jim Ackerman, but then continue on my own while Jim goes back to the lodge. It's a beautiful night with lots of moonlight. Near Cottonwood, I cross paths with coworker Dennis Alliss, who is heading the opposite direction. He is heading north, having started from the South Rim earlier in the day. I continue to Phantom Ranch and arrive there around 1am. I'm too early... if I continue on, then I will get out on the SR before my coworkers are expected to arrive at 6am and will have to wait around in the cold. To kill some time, I spend an hour on the bench outside the canteen, lying down, but not sleeping. At 2am, I continue on my way. I leave the river at 2:30am and climb out the SK, starting in the dark and finishing in the early morning light at 5:35am (a 3:05 climb out). My coworkers are in the parking lot getting ready to go. I meet up with them and we all start back down the SK at 6:00am. I walk across mostly with coworker Robert Smith-Gillespie and his friend Bob Schmidt. It's a beautiful sunny day and that helps to energize me after being awake all night. We stroll briskly across, but not in a huge hurry (40 min at Phantom, 50 min at Cottonwood, etc.). I climb strongly on the NK and pull ahead above the Supai Tunnel. That secretly pleases me since Bob has been training hard on Squaw Peak and is in good condition, and I already had 21 miles under my belt before starting back from the SR. I reach the NR at 3:15pm for a 9:15 hour crossing and 19:15 hour RT. Robert and Bob arrive just a few minutes later and we walk to the lodge together. I meet up with my parents, who had arrived by car from Indiana a few hours beforehand. I spend the night in a cabin with my parents. The following day, the 3 of us walk down the NK for a leisurely dayhike to Roaring Springs and back. This is a trial for me, since I am pretty tired from yesterday's R2R2R, and a trial for them since my mom is 69 and my dad is 70. But we all make it. We spend another night in the NR cabine and then Mom, Dad, and I head east to Page in preparation for a 3-day backpacking trip down the Paria River to its confluence with Buckskin Gulch. After a very pleasant Paria trip, we head back for Phoenix. On the way back, we notice abundant, striking yellow aspens on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks and decide on a whim to spend the night in Flagstaff and climb Humphreys the next day. The climb up Humphreys is on a gorgeous day with excellent, peaked aspen fall colors. My dad (age 70) makes it to the saddle and my mom (age 69) makes it all the way to the summit. I am very impressed!
Oct. 5, 1996
This will be my third, 3-day R2R2R (1988, 1989, 1996) and I will be hiking with my new love, Cindy Kenyon. This is her first R2R2R, or even R2R for that matter, having been to the bottom only once before during the previous month when we went down the SK and up the BA together. This is also the second Honeywell group trip to be organized by me. Cindy and I leave Phoenix very early and start down the SK at 5:30am. It is quite a beautiful day. Cindy is a fast walker and we have a good, but leisurely time walking across. When we arrive at Cottonwood, we learn that the water is off due to a pipeline break and that there is no water at here or beyond. That's okay... we know where the creek is :-). During the 40 minute break at Cottonwood, we secretly gloat to ourselves because we are sharing a diet Coke (carried from the start) and no one else has one. Moving on, as we pass by Roaring Springs, starting up the steep portion of the NK trail, Cindy waits along the trail while I go down the short side trail to Roaring Springs and fill up our water containers with fresh spring water. We then struggle on up to the NR, arriving there at 4:04pm for a 10:34 hour crossing. A coworker's wife is there and gives us a ride to the lodge. We spend a wonderful 2 nights on the NR, taking short walks through the forest and generally recuperating from the walk over. On the 3rd day, we catch a ride to the NK TH and start back at 5:40am. It's cold at first, but warms as we go on down to become another beautiful day. Early October is a wonderful time to be hiking in the Canyon. Cindy is hurting with a minor groin pull from the south-to-north crossing and it gets steadily worse as the day progresses. She struggles in pain for the latter part of the day, especially coming up the SK. To go along with the fatigue of a 21 mile day, she also has groin pain with every step. Nevertheless, she limps on up the SK to finish in the dark at 7:46pm. Our climb out from river took 4:50 hours and our reverse crossing time was 14:04 hours. We hit the showers and drive home. Cindy hurts enough that she fears she may have done some serious damage, but eventually recovers after several weeks.
Oct. 10, 1997
Cindy and I drive up to spend 2 nights in a lodge room at Maswik. I am up very early the next morning and start off by myself down the BA trail at 4:30am in the dark while Cindy stays in the room. This is my first and only trip to both start and finish on the BA trail (a 47 mile RT). The plan is for Cindy to hike down the BA later in the day and meet me at Phantom Ranch around 4pm or sooner when I am on my way back from the North Rim. I make excellent time crossing the Canyon, for starting on the longer BA trail, and hit the NR at 10:56am for a 6:26 hour crossing. After 14 min on NR, I head back, hurrying to meet my sweetie. I arrive back at Phantom Ranch at 3:15pm, 45 min ahead of schedule. Cindy's is already there and her face lights up when she sees me coming, as does mine. We lounge for awhile and then start out the BA trail. We climb out in 4:25 hours, finishing at 9:07pm for a return crossing of 9:57 hours and a 16:37 hour RT. The 6:26 hour first crossing and 16:37 hour RT are good for me for going BA both ways. We spend the second night in our Maswik North lodge room and awake to cold, dreary weather, looking like it could snow. We are thankful that the previous day had been warm, sunny and pleasant.
Sep. 4, 1998
Doug and I decide to do another night crossing this year. We drive up after a half day at work and start down the SK at 5:35pm. Although this night hike was planned for a full moon, we have clouds and rain for much of the night. In one memorable moment, we dive for shelter into the bathroom at the Tipoff, soon after sunset during a brief, torrential downpour. The rain eases some and we continue on across on a damp but warmish night. In the early morning hours, we both are again fighting the urge to stop, lie down and sleep. Doug slows considerably and after a 35 minute break at Cottonwood, he decides that he just doesn't have it today and turns back while I continue on to the NR. I push, and reach the NR at 2:44am for a 9:09 hour crossing. I spend 16 min there, alone in the dark, and then head back. I have to wear my rain jacket for much of the way due to persistent sprinkles. Most of the time it isn't raining, but it sure is humid. I leave the river at 7:57am and start back up the SK. I had cached water in two places along the SK trail since it is summertime and hot weather is expected, but today it just isn't all that hot. I pick up my water caches, but don't need the water. I reach the SR at 10:47am for a 7:47 reverse crossing and 17:12 RT. Doug is waiting and ready to drive home. He had felt good coming back from Cottonwood after taking a No-Doz and concluded that he had just been sleepy when he turned back.
May 22, 1999
Cindy and I drive up and spend 2 nights in a lodge room again. Early the next morning, Cindy drops me off at SK trailhead in the dark and I start down at 4:42am. She goes back to our room, but doesn't sleep much. This year's plan is for her to meet me around 4pm on the SK later in the day, somewhere around the Tipoff. In those days, the public could park at the SK trailhead, but that would soon be discontinued. I hurry down the SK and make it to the river in 1:10 hours. I'm feeling well and on a mission today to get over and back and not be late to meet Cindy. I am able to charge fairly well and reach NR at 9:49am with an excellent crossing time (for me) of 5:17 hours... my best since 1993. I take a 10 minute break and then hurry back, looking forward to meeting up with Cindy. It's a really nice day and I feel fine all the way back to Phantom Ranch, but as soon as I leave the river at 2:30pm and start up the SK, the dreaded nausea sets in. It doesn't feel good at all to push. I slowly climb the trail and find Cindy around 3:15pm at the first point below the Tipoff. She came further down than either of us had anticipated. The next hours are miserable for me and I struggle the whole way with nausea, going slowly smd fighting the urge to stop. I finally vomit somewhere above Cedar Ridge, but don't really feel any better as I had hoped I would. Cindy is worried about me, but I'm okay... just miserable. We reach the SR at 7:33pm, 5:02 hours from the river. My reverse crossing time was 9:24 hours and my RT time was 14:50 hours. We go back to lodge room for a second night before heading home the next day. I feel great after a night's rest.
Dec. 30, 2000
This one was my least pleasant and probably most risky R2R2R. By now, I had realized that I have a streak going, i.e., one R2R2R each year for 12 consecutive calendar years, and I am determined to keep the streak alive. However, after a previous failed attempt earlier in the year because of closed trails (NR fires), I am up against the wall with only a couple of days left in 2000 to get this done. Determined, but knowing that reaching the NR in late December might be iffy due to snow, I decide to at least give it a try. Cindy and I drive up with a reservation for two nights in a lodge room. I will start this evening and walk across in the dark. Cindy will go down the BA trail in the morning to meet me at Indian Garden later in the day. She drops me off at the SL trailhead at 8:08pm and down I go, while she returns to our lodge room to sleep. The weather is cool and clear and the trip across is uneventful. As I leave Phantom and continue north, I recognize with some delight and apprehension that there will likely be no one else on the trail for the 14 miles to and from the NR. There may be a few campers at Cottonwood, but surely no one north of there, at least not during the nighttime hours. I resolve to proceed cautiously since I don't want any problems. There will be no one along the way to go for help if something goes wrong. It's not really a dangerous trail, but I'm just aware that I'm on my own. For some reason I have a mountain lion phobia this year and I walk the entire way across the NK trail with a flashlight in one hand and pepper spray in the other, watching over my shoulder. I don't see or hear anything, but I can't get it out of my head. The trip is uneventful, but not particularly enjoyable. Not only is this one of the shortest day of the year with long nighttime hours, but also there is no moon. The air becomes increasingly cold as I climb the NK and by the time I top out on the NR, my zip-o-gauge thermometer reads 15 degrees. It is 2:50am, the middle of the night, and somehow it just feels really odd to be here. My crossing time was 8:38 hours. There was no problem actually getting to the rim. There is little snow on the trail, perhaps 3", and the walking has been easy. Although the temperature is below freezing, there is no wind and I am dressed warm and am reasonably comfortable. After 15 min, I start back, still in the dark. Daylight finally arrives after I pass back through Cottonwood and I can finally turn off the flashlight. I'm almost dizzy after walking by flashlight beam for the last 10 hours. I stroll back to Phantom Ranch and start up the BA at 9:52am. By now it is warmer with bright sun, but still jacket weather. Fortunately, I have no nausea this year and I feel good. I reach IG in 1-1/2 hours and am delighted to find Cindy already there waiting for me. She has brought chicken and yogurt in a small soft ccoler and we sit and share it. Boy... what a treat! It really perks me up. It is cold at IG, in the 30's, but the sun is out and we are in a cheery mood. AFter a 30 minute rest, we start on up the BA trail and soon enter the shade for more coolness, with the temperature bottoming out in the mid-30's at 1-1/2 mile RH. We top out at 2:11pm, giving me a 11:06 hour reverse crossing and 19:59 RT. The streak is still alive... now 13 consecutive years.
May 11, 2001
Doug and I now begin a long string of April-May attempts, since going early in the year makes for easier training in Phoenix before the summertime heat sets in. This one is special. Doug and I both will turn 50 this year, so we are intentionally stretching the RT distance out to 50 miles to commemorate our milestone. Our 50 mile route will be: down the SK to the Tipoff, west on the Tonto to the BA trail just below IG, continue down the BA to Phantom Ranch, over to NR and back, and then climb out the BA trail. First timer Gary Warnica will be joining us this year. This is a big one for him to bite off for his first R2R2R. The three of us drive up and spend the first of two nights in a Maswik lodge room. We got the room just in case we finish very late or are too tired to drive home afterwards. Early the following morning, we take the taxi from Maswik to the SK trailhead and start down at 4:54am, all of us running. Gary and I stay together to the Tipoff, across the Tonto to the BA, and then onward down to Phantom. We are both a little faster than Doug and pull ahead. Gary takes a bathroom break at Phantom and I continue on alone. By the time I hit the steep grades on the NK, I am fading due to the pace and the longer miles with the route we have chosen. Grinding up the NK becomes, well, a grind. Our route to the North Rim over is approx. 27 miles instead of our usual 21 mile route and by the time I arrive at 1:21pm (8:27 hour crossing), I am spent and feeling the first signs of nausea. This is not good and it's a bit scary to feel nausea so "early" in the trip. It looks like this one may be unpleasant by the time it's over. I spend 6 min on the NR and then go down the trail to the Coconino Overlook to lay on the flat rocks for awhile to try to feel better. During the 40 minutes that I am there, Gary and Doug pass by on their way up. I continue on down the NK, not pushing very hard, and reach Phantom Ranch at 7:22pm. I hang out there for awhile, trying to subdue the nausea which is coming on more strongly. After 40 min, Doug and Gary show up and we rest together for awhile longer before the climb out from the river. Doug is doing well, but Gary has knee pain and is also starting to feel a bit nauseous. Doug gives me some Gatorade which I guzzle. I feel instantly better, but then vomit it all up and fell bad again. At 9:12pm, we all start out the BA trail together in the dark. Doug pulls slightly ahead. Gary and I are suffering and fall behind. We regroup again at IG, where Doug is still feeling well and Gary and I are both wishing it was over. I opt to lay down for awhile while Doug and Gary continue on. I lay there for 1-1/2 hours, trying to get the nausea to go away. It doesn't. Eventually, I start to get chilled and realize that I can't stay here all night, so nothing to do but just do it. I start on up the BA, somewhat dismayed by having still 3000' of elevation gain ahead. I try to at least keep moving even if my pace is slow. After 3 hours, I finally reach the rim at 3:47am for a 14:20 hour reverse crossing and 22:53 RT which is my longest yet. I stagger on over to Maswik, all alone in the dark, and find Gary and Doug both asleep. After a quick shower, I also turn in, still feeling miserable. Surprisingly, we all wake at 6am and feel good enough to walk to breakfast at the BA lodge. I feel much, much better. On a dare, each of us makes a somewhat humorous attempt to do a deep knee bend. It is possible, but hurts. We then walk slowly over to the restaurant. I've never seen anyone walk as slowly and deliberately as Gary. He is in obvious pain, but his face is completely calm with no sign of pain. During breakfast I feel a familiar burning in my throat when swallowing food. Presumably it is from too many hours of panting on the trail in the dry air. After breakfast, we drive home, feeling pretty beat up by the Canyon this year.
May 10, 2002
This is a year for redemption. Neither Doug nor I were satisfied with our performance during last year's 50 miler, so we decide to try it again. Gary declined to join us this year. The day goes pretty much the same as last year, but better. We start down the SK at 5:01am and once again go west on the Tonto to pick up the BA trail for the remainder of the way to Phantom Ranch. I am feeling better than last year and my times are about 15 minutes ahead of last year. I reach the NR at 12:53pm for a 7:52 hour crossing, which is about 30 min faster than last year. More importantly, I feel good with no sign of nausea. Sure, I am dead tired, but otherwise okay. I hang around for 17 min and then start back. Doug and I cross paths somewhere above the Supai Tunnel, so I know that he is going to make it too. I continue on down the trail and reach Phantom Ranch in reasonable time (5:52pm) and then hang out for 20 min while eating and watering up. To my surprise… Doug shows up! He ran most of the way back and says "I feel like a million bucks". Even though it took him 1:20 hours longer to cross, he made it all up on the way back and has caught up with me. We leave the silver bridge together at 6:43pm with both of us feeling good and Doug even running a few sections of the trail along the river. I am more cautious and walk, still remembering last year's nausea. By the time we reach IG, I am ahead and still feeling fairly well, while Doug is now struggling with nausea... a turnabout from last year. After a 20 min rest at IG, I head on up the BA while Doug hangs out to try and recover. I feel good and reach the South Rim at 10:42pm, taking me 2:12 hours from IG. That gives me a 9:32 hour reverse crossing and 17:41 hour RT. That's much better than last year and I'm happy with the times. I walk on over to the lodge, take a shower, and turn in. Even though I felt no nausea this year, I am completely spent by the miles and the effort. Doug finishes at 11:37pm for an 18:36 hour RT. That's not bad at all considering the nausea he was feeling He continued to feel nauseous all the way out, but still did well in spite of it, finishing just under an hour after me. With a 17:41 RT vs. last year's 22:53 RT, I feel redeemed. Nevertheless, we both feel beat up by the Canyon again and have had enough of the 50 miler. We will go back to doing 42 mile trips next year (SK both ways). It's enough just to do a R2R2R without having to make it harder than it is.
May 9, 2003
This year's R2R2R will be a "standard" crossing, SK both ways, except that Doug isn't going since he broke both bones in his lower leg 6 months ago and is not yet fully recovered. I go alone and have a splendid day, walking briskly with no running. I'm just out to have an enjoyable trip this year and not push for a best time. I start down the SK at 4:45am and reach the NR at 11:37am for a 6:52 hour crossing. After 24 min on the NR, I start back. Shortly down the trail, I pass another lone rim-to-rimmer headed up. He later catches up with me and we walk together and talk all the way to Cottonwood. This is Dave Olson, from Bakersfield and he too has a R2R2R streak going, but his is just a couple of years shorter than mine (which will be 16 this year). We actually crossed paths 2 years ago on my first 50-miler with Doug and Gary. Most of Dave O's trips have been on the BA trail both ways with a side trip to the lodge, for a total distance approaching 50 miles. He appears quite fit and has a certain spring in his step that I am not feeling for myself. At Cottonwood, we part ways and Dave runs on ahead, feeling energetic. I feel good too, but I am not pushing for any records today. For me, this is just a pleasant day out for a (long) stroll. Walking alone, I spend lots of time reminiscing about recent trips on the corridor trails and pleasant memories at seemingly every turn. I arrive back at Phantom Ranch at 4:40pm and water up for the climb out. I leave the river at 5:18pm and reach the rim at 8:31pm, taking 3:13 hours to climb the SK. My reverse crossing time this year is 8:30 hours for a RT time of 15:46 hours. Not bad for a "stroll". I really enjoyed the more relaxed pace this year and not running for time. I also enjoyed going alone, with lots of time for reflective thinking. A photo page for this year's trip is here.
May 14, 2004
Doug and I are together again for this year's R2R2R attempt. I talked Doug into getting a lodge room for the night after, which means that we will plan on coming out the BA so that we can walk to our Maswik room. Getting a room isn't preferred by Doug, but he consents. We park at Maswik and then take a taxi to the SK, starting down at 5:03am. We are both pushing across for time, since it has been a few years since we really tried to see what we could do. I reach the river in 1:10 hours, pass through Phantom Ranch and continue up the NK, making reasonably good time. Just south of Cottonwood, I meet up with coworkers Jeff Novacek, Tim Beagle, and Tom Vincent, who are coming from the NR. They had gotten a ride around to the North Rim and are doing a one-way, north-to-south R2R. I feel pretty good climbing the upper NK and reach the NR at 10:58am for a 5:55 hour crossing. My time up from Aiken's house took 2:01 hours, which isn't bad; however, even though I gave it all I have, I am somewhat surprised to see that today's "fast" crossing time is more than an hour slower than 10 years ago and 38 min slower than 5 years ago. Sure, I am older now, but I didn't realize I was so much better back then. That's okay... I'm in my 50's now and am happy just to do it. I didn't know it at the time, but this would be my last sub-6 hour crossing. I hang around on the North Rim for 17 min and then start back, running part of the way. I cross paths with Doug high up on the NK and he too is doing well. The trip back across the bottom is uneventful and I reach Phantom Ranch at 2:49pm. I water up, and then start out the BA, moving quickly. I leave the silver bridge at 3:34pm and push going up the BA. I arrive at IG in 1-1/2 hours and pause for only 6 minutes to water up and eat something. I continue on, actually feeling well and making good time on the BA. I reach the SR in another 2 hours, still in daylight. Towards the end of the climb, I feel physically good, but for some reason get unusually sleepy above the 1-1/2 mile RH. Each time that I pause for a few seconds and lean against the rock wall, I feel like I am going to fall asleep and hit the ground. My finish time is 6:54pm for a 7:39 hour return trip (not bad for BA) and a 13:51 hour RT (also not bad for BA). I go on over to Maswik, check in, shower, and then head back to the BA TH to meet Doug. He finishes at 10:35pm for a 17:32 hour RT. Doug and I both started using Hammer Nutrition products this year, always searching for a magic bullet to avoid the seemingly unpredictable onset of nausea. Some years one of us feels nausea, and in other years we don't. We both feel that it is related to our fueling, but haven't really known what to do about it. This year both of us do well with no nausea, so maybe the Hammer products worked. In the coming years, we will continue to use them and the problem of nausea seems to be gone (mostly - see 2013 trip notes below).
May 4, 2005
I received bad news earlier this year when visiting a doctor for persistent pain in my right knee. I learned that my medial meniscus is wearing out, probably the result of 15 years of running. That means no more running for me - ever - again. I am disappointed, but glad that I can still hike. An unexpected downside is that, with no more running, it seems harder to get into a peak fitness level that is suitable for R2R2R. Walking just isn't the same. Nevertheless, I am as fit as I'm going to be for this year's R2R2R. Doug and I start down the SK at 4:25am, a little earlier than usual and still pitch dark, walking by flashlight. I am wearing a clunky knee brace and using trekking poles this year, because of my newfound, degraded knee condition. Doug runs on ahead and I am faced with the reality of being in second place for now and hereafter. That is backwards from usual when, in the past, I would run faster and be in the lead. I don't mind being 2nd though -- Doug and I don't compete against each other, but always just try to do our best. Besides, even though I can't run, I can still walk pretty fast. I hustle down to the river in about 2 hours, walk through Phantom Ranch, and continue on across the NK trail. BA Creek is really roaring this year, being extra swollen from lots of rain and snowmelt. It is quite noisy when walking through the box where the creek is right beside the trail. After an hour of walking, it is nice to have some relative quiet when the gorge widens out and the trail strays a little away from the creek. Wall Creek is also flowing mightily and the trail crossing is really washed over by the high flow. It seems risky to me to cross at trail level, since I can almost picture myself losing my footing and being swept over the little waterfall at the trail's edge. Spooked, I instead cross Wall Creek about 30' downstream instead of at the trail. This is still a bit dicey and involves knee deep wading through fast water, but at least it feels safer to me. I get soaked from the thighs down, but there was no way I was going to keep my feet dry at the trail crossing either. I'm glad to get that over with, but realize of course that I will have to do it again on the way back. I feel pretty good climbing the steep grades above Aiken's house, but start to tire towards the end. Nothing new about that. I reach the NR at 11:37am for a 7:11 hour crossing, which is 32 minutes slower than Doug's 6:39 hour crossing. This is something new, me arriving at the North Rim after Doug. In previous years, I always beat him to the North Rim since I was the faster runner. Now with me walking and him running, I have to get used to arriving second. But I am happy for Doug... after being second during each of the previous years, he now gets to be the first one across. On the way over, he had crossed Wall Creek at the normal trail crossing and found it to be no problem. We spend 23 min on the NR and I start back at noon a couple of minutes after Doug. He is ahead and quickly out of sight, trotting some down the trail. I feel fine going back and reach Phantom at 4:23pm, and then start up the SK at 4:55pm. Doug is far ahead (or at least so I think). I climb the SK with daylight fading on the Kaibab switchbacks. I am tired, but doing well enough and enjoying have the trekking poles as a climbing aid. Just above Skeleton Point, I see a lone figure walking up the trail ahead of me in the distance. I am astounded to find that it is Doug, and that he is going slowly and feeling wasted. We walk together for awhile, but then I pull on ahead. He does well though and falls only a few minutes behind. I finish at 7:50pm, just 10 min ahead of him. My climb from river took 2:55 hours to give me a 7:50 hour reverse crossing, and 15:25 hour RT. I am pleased... bad knee or not, I can still do it.
May 5, 2006
Doug and I will be doing another standard R2R2R again this year, starting and finishing on the South Kaibab. Once again I will be walking, with no running; however, my knee hasn't degraded noticeably since last year so I am leaving the knee brace and trekking poles behind. We start at 5:06am and I hurry down the SK to arrive at the river in 1:43 hours. Doug has pulled ahead and out of sight. I make good time across the bottom, walking briskly. About halfway up the NK near the eye of the needle, I see Doug less than 10 minutes ahead. He maintains his lead... I can see him, but can't make up any ground. I reach the NR at 11:36am for a 6:30 hour crossing, just 6 min after Doug. We hang out together for 13 min and Doug starts back just a couple of minutes before me, running and disappearing out of sight. I wait a few minutes and start back too, at 11:49am. I feel good and walk briskly back to Phantom. Along the way, I catch up with Doug as we enter the box and then pull a little ahead. He is dismayed because I am walking faster than he is running, although in fairness he is running only a little at a time and quite slowly due to fatigue. I arrive at Phantom at 3:35pm, a few minutes ahead of Doug, then water up for the climb out. I continue on, with Doug not yet in sight. When on the black bridge, I see him coming about 5 minutes behind and wait for him. We leave the river together at 4:12pm. He says he is fatigued and having a difficult time, but I set a steady pace and he keeps up. We actually make fairly good time using the following goals, thinking about the SK trail as being broken into quarters: 45 min to the Tipoff (1st quarter), 45 min to Skeleton Pt (2nd quarter), 45 min to Cedar Ridge (3rd quarter), then 45 min out (4th quarter). We miss this schedule by just 2 min, partially because we stopped and chatted with a talkative woman for about 10 min below the Tipoff. Our climb out took 3:02 hours and we arrived at the rim together at 7:14pm. My return crossing was 7:25 hours and RT was 14:08 hours. Not bad for walking the whole way. Drive home.
Apr. 27, 2007
This year marks my 20th consecutive year of R2R2R. This year's event will be another standard trip, down and up the SK, with Doug. We start down together at 5:17am, with me walking and Doug running and pulling ahead. I'm not supposed to run, but I get caught up in the excitement and actually do trot for about 20min on the way down to the river. I arrive at the river in 1:30 hours and hurry on. Stops at Phantom Ranch, Cottonwood, and Aiken's are kept very short, with just a few minutes at each place to top up on water. I push as quickly as I can without running, but one can walk only so fast. By the time I get halfway up the steep NK grade, I am still trying to push, but am getting tired. I arrive at the NR at 11:28am for a 6:11 hour crossing. Doug has been here for 10 min and is dismayed that he missed a 6 hour crossing by 4 seconds. We rest for 30 minutes and then start back, with Doug running ahead and out of sight. I walk briskly and as I approach within a mile of Phantom, I catch Doug in the box and push on ahead with the goal of reaching Phantom in time to get a Lemmy, thinking that it might refresh me. I reach Phantom at 3:53pm, just barely in time to go into the canteen before the 4pm closing time. Doug arrives a few minutes later and we hang out for awhile and then head for the SK. We stay together for the climb since we both are tired and not really in a mood to push. Any time goals have been abandoned. We leave the river at 4:45pm and climb slowly with 10 minute rest breaks at the Tipoff, Skeleton Point, and Cedar Ridge. We reach the rim after dark at 9:35pm, with the climb from the river taking 4:49 hours. Our reverse crossing time was 9:35 hours and RT was 16:18 hours. This year we break from tradition and spend the night in the forest before driving home.
May 9, 2008
Another standard R2R2R this year, down SK and up SK, with Doug. At least that is the plan. We start down the SK trail together at 5:03am. Doug is slightly overweight and uncharacteristically out of shape this year and I actually pull ahead of him even though I am walking and he is running (although he runs only part of the way, and slowly). I reach the river in 1:41 hours and Doug is out of sight, somewhere behind. I hurry onward, past Phantom and up the NK trail. I don't see Doug again and wonder if he has aborted. Actually, I fear that I may have unintentionally sabotaged his motivation by stupidly noticing out loud that I am 50 lbs lighter than him this year when normally it's more like 30 lbs. Doug is muscular and solidly built, unlike me with my slender, no-muscle body. I push on and reach the NR at 11:43am for a 6:40 hour crossing. After hanging around for 20 min, I start back a couple of minutes after noon. I walk somewhat leisurely to Cottonwood, but then remember the 4pm canteen closing time and decide to push to Phantom Ranch to try and get there in time for a Lemmy. I really push hard through the box and make it to the canteen right at 4pm, just as they are closing the doors. The nice girl closing the door says "what do you need?" and then lets me in for a Lemmy, thankfully. I sit outside the canteen and see and talk with Maverick while enjoying the Lemmy. Maverick is 82 now, I believe, and is down here with a group of friends for the evening. He has done some remarkable things in his older age (104 R2R2's during the year he turned 80) and he is an inspiration. Little did I know that he would not be with us for much longer. I finish my Lemmy and head for the Black Bridge, leaving the river at 4:30pm. My climb out the SK trail takes 3:22 hours and I am feeling borderline ill (spent), towards the end. I reach the South Rim at 7:52pm for a 7:49 hour reverse crossing and 14:49 hour RT. I meet up with Doug and he drives us home. In his unusually less-fit condition, he realized the folly and aborted the R2R2R attempt shortly after reaching Phantom Ranch.
Apr. 9, 2009
This year I am going alone only because I am physically ready in early April and Doug needs more training time. Chomping at the bit, I decide to go ahead with this solo R2R2R now with the idea of possibly doing a second R2R2R a few weeks later with Doug. If I can pull it off, it will be the first year that I do two R2R2R's in one calendar year. I start down the SK in the dark at 3:30am, much earlier than normal. The early start is intended to give me extra assurance that I will finish in time to get a shower and clean up for a second night in the forest, before the shower facility closes at 9pm tonight. I am not capable of driving home late at night after finishing a R2R2R like Doug can do. I don't know how he does it... I am always way too spent. It's good to be leaving early, but it means that I have to walk by flashlight nearly all the way to the river (2:10 hours), which isn't all that desirable. I continue on up NK trail and reach the NR at 10:30am for a crossing time just a few seconds under 7:00 hours. There is some snow on the trail, but it's easily passable to the rim. I spend 26 min on the North Rim and then start back at 10:56am, suddenly feeling chilled. I make it back to Phantom at 3:12pm and have TWO Lemmys from the Canteen. I then head for the SK trail and leave the river at 3:57pm, with plenty of time to get out before the 9pm shower closing. My climb out the SK takes 3:20 hours and I am feeling borderline ill again during the last half. Not nauseous, but extremely spent like my core just isn't right -- as though my electrolytes or blood sugar level is off. I finish at 6:17pm for a 8:21 hour reverse crossing and 15:47 hour RT. I head for the shower, which feels great, but almost toss my cookies while brushing my teeth. I head for the forest and spend a relaxing night in the back of the 4Runner. Several weeks later, Doug goes up for his R2R2R, but I have a sore throat and do not participate. Therefore, we both do solo R2R2R's this year. Doug's trip turns out to be quite an ordeal for him. He is again not extremely fit this year and although he persists and is successful, the entire RT takes him over 30 hours. Two weeks later, I go again for my planned second R2R2R attempt on May 14, 2009, but I don't really have what it takes this time. I don't know whether it is a declined, lower fitness level, or diminished motivation by having already achieved my annual R2R2R goal. By the time I get to Asinine Hill, I call it quits and turn around. I am not having an especially energetic day and thoughts of Doug's recent 30 hour ordeal haunt me. I just don't want to suffer that much. I have already successfully completed my one required R2R2R for the year just don't feel like enduring the pain again so soon.
Apr. 25, 2010
This year's trip is another standard, down SK up SK trip with Doug, but because of reports of remaining snow on the NR, we both are taking YakTrax and I am taking trekking poles. We start down the SK at 5:30am, a little later than normal. I don't remember what led to our later start. Doug pulls ahead with him running and me walking. I reach the river in 1:51 hours, pass through Phantom, and continue on with Doug out of sight somewhere ahead. I am happy that he is back in proper form and will likely complete the event this year. I walk briskly, but struggle on the upper NK. For some reason, it seems harder than usual and I intentionally reduce the effort slightly in order to avoid a burnout. I see Doug coming back down the trail when I am about halfway between the tunnel and the rim, still 30 minutes or so from the NK trailhead. I am still getting used to him being ahead of me, since in the early years the roles were reversed. I reach the NR at 1:21pm for a 7:51 hour crossing. Doug's crossing time was 6:52, about an hour faster. I rest for 15 min and then start back at 1:36pm. The trip back is uneventful and I feel well, Surprisingly, I catch Doug in the box a mile or so north of Phantom. He is really having a hard time with sore legs, to the point of walking for 8 min and sitting for 2 min. I continue on ahead and wait for him at Phantom Ranch. Being so tired and sore, Doug is really dreading the climb out the SK trail. It is now after 6pm and much too late for a Lemmy, so we don't get that refreshment this year. Dinner is in progress inside the canteen. Doug and I leave the river at 7:11pm and start out the SK, staying together, climbing slowly, with the goal only to finish... to survive. We stop for 10 to 15 minutes at each quarter (Tipoff, Skeleton, Cedar). We have no time goals on this climb, but just to do it. Our climb from the river takes 3:52 hours, which isn't bad considering how much Doug's legs were hurting him earlier. We reach the SR at 11:03pm, for a 9:27 hour return trip for me and 17:33 RT for both of us. Amazingly, Doug is once again able to drive us back home to Phoenix.
Apr. 16, 2011
This is another milestone year for us, since we both turn 60 soon... me in only 2 weeks (May) and Doug in June. We're going on a Saturday this year, trying to fit the trip in with a favorable weather forecast. Our normal preference is to go on a weekday, usually a Friday, in order to have the trails mostly to ourselves and to allow an extra rest day before going back to work. That last part only applies to me this year, since Doug recently retired from Honeywell. We drive up together and start together, but Doug's goal is to go only to the river and back. He suffered a broken ankle and torn ligaments 8 months ago and after a long, low-exercise recovery period, he isn't back up to the necessary fitness level to tackle a complete, one-day R2R2R. We start down the SK together at 4:54am. Feeling reasonably well, I pull on ahead since Doug is walking at a cautious pace because of his ankle. I reach the river in 2:23 hours. The SK tail is in great condition this year after recent, extensive trail work. Feeling good, I pass through Phantom Ranch and continue up the NK. I'm walking fast, but not pushing to the limit with hopes of avoiding burnout. Several trail runners overtake me and slowly pull ahead. I see others too, also doing a R2R2R. The trail is actually relatively crowded today, reinforcing the desire to avoid doing this on a weekend. I fade a little on the upper NK, but do pass back a few of the trail runners and beat them to the rim. I learn later that there is a group of 11 from Salt Lake City and that this is a first time R2R2R for most of them. I arrive at the NR at 12:10pm for a 7:17 crossing. Several other rim-to-rimmers are here. When talking with them, I learn that all in all, there are about 25 people on the trail today attempting the one-day R2R2R. I stay for 30 min and start back at 12:40pm. I feel good going back and reach Phantom Ranch at 4:57pm, then leave the river at 5:29pm. I still feel good going up the SK and am able to push fairly well. It seems like I haven't been able to push much at the end in recent years, so it feels good to have a little reserve left. I am still very tired, but somehow able to keep a decent pace. At 8:40pm, I reach the rim having climbed the SK in 3:11 hours. Maybe the days are gone when I could climb out in under 3 hours. My return crossing time was 8:00 hours and the RT was 15:46 hours. I walk back to the car and find Doug is ready to go to drive us home.
Apr. 20, 2012
Another milestone -- this is my 25th consecutive year of R2R2R; however, I am a bit nervous because I have had difficulty getting to the required fitness level this year. I put in all the same training miles as in other years, but just never really felt like I achieved the same fitness level or power for pushing up hills as in previous years. Nevertheless, I'm as ready as I'm going to get this year. Doug and I drive up together and start down together by flashlight at 4:55am. He too is feeling less capable this year. He trots on ahead, but goes slowly and I am only a few minutes behind him by the time we get to the river. I have a faster stop at Phantom Ranch than he does and I push on into the Box shortly before him. I do see Doug a couple of minutes behind at one point, but that is the last time I will see him on the trail this day. He just doesn't have it today and turns back at Ribbon Falls Hill. I push on to the North Rim, but don't feel especially energetic. The last few miles up the NK are slow and my legs feel spent by the time I get to the North Rim. My one-way crossing time is 7:32 hours. I spend 30 min on the North Rim and then head back. My feet hurt all the way and by the time I arrive back at Phantom Ranch, I am feeling tired and know that the climb out the SK is going to be tough. I leave the river at 6:16pm and struggle upward on the SK trail. During the climb to the Tipoff, I am going very slow and feel exhausted, like I want to sit and rest every 5 minutes. I take a Vivarin at the Tipoff and that perks me up for the next climb up the Kaibab Switchbacks to Skeleton Point. The remainder of the climb is slow and tiring, but not quite as bad as to the Tipoff. It takes me a total of 4:22 hours to climb out from the river to the rim, for a 17:42 hour total round trip time. I am out at 10:37pm and back to the car by 11pm. Doug has been cat-napping and is ready to drive us back to Phoenix. The Downer family from Montana happened to be at the Canyon this day, but I am out too late to meet up with them. As it turns out, they did a short hike down the SK and crossed paths with Doug, although not knowing each other, they did not converse.
Apr. 27, 2013
Like other years, this year Doug and I had a target date but delayed one day at at time until we found what was forecast to be a perfect weather day: Saturday, April 27. Normally we would prefer to go on a weekday to have less traffic on the trails, but this seemed to be the right day for weather -- and would also allow me to avoid burning a vacation day from work. I trained a little extra hard this year because of feeling undertrained last year. If my fitness level isn't good enough this year, then I don't know what else I can do. I've trained about as much as I can. On Friday morning before driving up to the Canyon, I received notice from Doug that he has suddenly developed a new pain in his left shin that will prevent him from going the distance. Therefore, he elects to completely skip the trip as opposed to going only to fail. That leaves me going alone this year. That isn't totally foreign since I've gone by myself on a half dozen past R2R2R's. I drive up and arrive at my forest campsite south of Tusayan at 7:30pm, still in the daylight. After a couple of "helper" sleeping pills, I drop off quickly and sleep well until 2:30am. I arise then with the plan of starting early, in the dark, in order to get out in time to clean up before the shower facility at the Canyon closes at 11pm. If I can start by 4am, then I will have at least 18 hours to complete R2R2R and get out in time for a shower. Little did I know at this early hour that I wouldn't make it out before 11pm. I start down the South Kaibab trail at 3:43am by flashlight. There isn't much traffic on the trail at this early hour, but that changes after I arrive at Phantom Ranch and head north through the Bright Angel gorge on the NK trail. Soon I am passed by several fit-looking runners. Just a few at a time, but they keep coming. Soon I realize that there are more "rimmers" than I had seen on any previous day. I feel only fair on the way over and struggle somewhat up to the North Rim, arriving there at 11:34am for a 7:51 hour crossing. That's not too bad considering how slowly it felt like I was going. The trailhead area is crowded and after doing an informal count of people that I see here and have seen on the trail so far, I realize that there are about 60 others doing R2R2R this day. I rest for 27 minutes and then start back. The temperature is ideal on the rim, but there are abundant, pesky gnats and flies everywhere. They are a bit of a nuisance. I start back at 12:01pm, feeling okay, but realizing that I probably did not eat or drink enough on the way over. After an hour, I find a shady spot alongside the trail and sit for awhile with the purpose of trying to force down some food and drink. It just doesn't want to go. I know that if I can't get any fuel in me, then I will be in big trouble later on. But everything that I put in my mouth makes me want to gag. Finally I give up and just realize that I am under-fueled and it is going to be hard. I continue onward at a relatively slow pace, trying not to overextend myself too much. At Wall Creek, I fetch a bottle of Diet Coke that I had stashed in the stream. It helps, but isn't enough. By the time I get to Phantom Ranch, I am tired and feeling a bit ill. The Canteen is closed for dinner and only those with dinner reservations are allowed in. I can't get a Lemmy or anything else that might help. There is nothing to do but push on and do my best... or wait around for 3 hours until the Canteen opens again at 8pm. I think that I can be most of the way out by then, so I choose to go ahead and start the climb out. I leave the river at 6:21pm and start up the South Kaibab trail. The SK is always the preferred trail for me because it is 2 miles shorter, much more scenic, and less crowded. My legs actually feel quite good and I have surprisingly little muscle soreness, which lets me know that I my training was sufficient. Although I feel like I have some power in my legs, my core feels "off" as though my electrolytes or blood sugar level is out of whack. It feels uncomfortable to push. The old, familiar, unwelcome feeling of nausea creeps in. There isn't much I can do at this point other than continue on, slowly, one foot in front of the other. I barf on the way to the Tipoff... just some water, but I immediately feel better.   For awhile.   Above Skeleton Point I barf again. Once again, it's just a little water and I feel better afterwards. I continue on, one step at a time, slowly, and taking lots of breaks. Finally, the ordeal is over at 11:33pm. My climb out from the river took 5:12 hours and my total round-trip time is 19:50 hours. I walk 10 minutes back to my car and then feel noticeably better after drinking some lowfat chocolate milk. I then drive to my forest campsite south of Tusayan for another night in the back of the 4Runner. I sleep well and feel good the next morning. I can't say that I enjoyed R2R2R much this year and am considering how much longer I can continue doing the one-day trips. I don't know... maybe I will change my mind later, but for now I'm thinking that maybe it is time to start thinking about 2-day trips.
Mar. 25, 2014
This is my first R2R2R as a retiree. I am going approximately 1 month early this year because family will be visiting in April and that will be a training and overeating setback that I may not recover from before the summer heat arrives. The GC weather forecast calls for sunny and 62 at the South Rim, and 82 at Phantom Ranch -- perfect! I feel well trained after lots of hill work on Black Mt. in Cave Creek and the on the Flat Iron in the Superstitions. Doug isn't going again this year due to too many aches and pains. He also fell off a ladder a few months ago and had a huge training setback while recovering. I arrive at my forest campsite and turn in early at 6:45pm, sleeping in the back of my 4Runner. After 5 hours in the sack, sleeping maybe 3 hours, I awake and head for the SK trailhead. My goal in starting early is to hopefully finish in time to get a shower before the 9pm shower closing time, and also to avoid getting out near midnight like last year. I start down the trail at 1:06am. The temperature is cool, but great for hiking. My first 5 hours of walking, all the way to Cottonwood, are by flashlight which is not especially fun. Night hiking is pleasant with a full moon, but there is no moon tonight. After last year's nutrition failure, I am switching away from Hammer products to PB&J sandwiches, mandarin orange fruit cups, and grapes. That seems to work and I feel pretty good by the time I get to the North Rim. My legs are fine and my energy level is good. The return crossing is tiring, largely because of blisters and foot pain that develops on the way back. Also, new to me, I have some hip flexor pain in my left leg, which hampers climbing a little. I arrive at Phantom Ranch a few minutes after 3pm and have plenty of time to down a couple of Lemmys. I leave the river at 3:40pm and start up the SK trail, feeling pretty good. My legs have some strength left and I do well until I get to Skeleton Point, where fatigue increases. I struggle on out, finishing at 7:19pm, having climbed from the river in 3:39 hours -- much better than the 5:12 hours last year when feeling nausea. I had NO feelings of nausea all day and my core didn't feel as depleted as other years. The PB&J and fruit seems to have done the trick. My legs did okay too, which means that my training was sufficient; however, blisters, accompanying foot pain, and hip flexor pain make climbing and walking pretty uncomfortable. I am spent at the end, but feeling reasonably well. The trails had little traffic today and I saw only about 12 other hikers north of Cottonwood, including perhaps 2 others doing R2R2R. As I was climbing out the South Kaibab, I kept thinking that I am losing my tolerance for so much pain and suffering and that this could be my last one-day trip, but by the time I got home the next day I was already thinking I will do it again.
Mar. 24, 2015
I am going early again this year because of an April family visit that will be a training and overeating setback that I may not recover from before the summer heat arrives. The GC weather forecast calls for mostly sunny and 59 at the South Rim, and 79 at Phantom Ranch, all with wind gusts up to 18mph. Not perfect, but good enough. I feel well trained after lots of hill work on Camelback Mt., Piestewa Peak, Thompson Peak in the McDowells, and the Flat Iron in the Superstitions. Doug isn't going again this year. He feels he needs more training and even wonders if he's capable any more. A couple of the long, hard training hikes have left him pretty spent at the end. And R2R2R will be much harder. I arrive at my forest campsite and turn in early at 4:15pm, sleeping in the back of my 4Runner. I take a sleep aid and plan/hope to get several hours of sleep before getting up at 11pm. After 6 hours in the sack, sleeping maybe 1-1/2 hours, I awake at 10:30pm and head for the SK trailhead. My goal in starting early is to hopefully finish in time to get a shower before the 9pm shower closing time. I start down the trail 3 minutes before midnight. The temperature is quite cool and there is a breeze. I'm dressed for it though and reasonably comforable. All the way down the SK trail, I think about how much it is going to hurt climbing out at the end. It is a mental challenge to keep going and multiple times I have to talk myself out of turning around and aborting the trip. My first 6 hours of walking, all the way to Roaring Springs, are by flashlight which is not especially fun and contributes to my desire to abort. Also, I am tired and would rather be sleeping. There is no moon tonight. After last year's nutrition success with PB&J sandwiches, fruit cups, and grapes, I am repeating that strategy. That seems to work again. The climb up to the North Rim is cold and breezy and I layer to strike a balance between sweating too much and being chilled. The climb goes well enough. My legs are fine and my energy level is good. It is cool on the Rim and I stay for 20 min to take photos and make a phone call to Cindy. I then head back down the trail and spend 25 min. at the Coconino Overlook, trying to send a text message with status to friends and family. Even though I have 2 bars of service, I cannot get a text or voice call to go through. I feel pretty good on the way back. My legs feel fine and I have no foot pain like last year. I fetch my Diet Coke from a snow bank above the tunnel and enjoy it. Later, I fetch a Diet Mountain Dew from Wall Creek and even though it's not very cold, it tastes even better. The return crossing goes quite well and by the time I get back to Phantom Ranch, I am tired but my legs and feet feel good. I am not dreading the climb out the SK like I was earlier. I feel well enough that I skip the "traditional" Lemmy at Phantom Ranch and keep going. I leave the river at 2:50pm and optimistically start up the SK trail, feeling good about having no significant leg pain or foot pain. My legs have some strength left and I do well most of the way out. I do tire at the end, but am able to keep going without too many rests along the way. I finish at 6:22pm, having climbed from the river in 3:32 hours. I am happy with that, but it appears that my days of sub 3-hour climb outs are over. I had NO feelings of nausea all day and my core didn't feel as depleted as other years. The PB&J and fruit seems to have done the trick again. My legs did well too, which means that my training was sufficient. My feet felt fine all day and I finished with no blisters. I credit that to a workable combination of Nike Air One TR shoes and Sole Blue insoles. The trails had little traffic today and I saw no one all the way to the North Rim; however, I was on the trail earlier than most. I saw only 3 people on my way back to Cottonwood and then several other hikers after that. No one appeared to being R2R2R on this day. On the way over to the North Rim, I felt strongly that this would likely be my last 1-day R2R2R, but the return trip went so nicely that I now think I may not be ready to quit. Walking those first 6 hours by flashlight was unpleasant, but if the hike were timed with a full moon, it could be very acceptable.
UPDATE: Doug went by himself a month later (Apr. 28). He started in the dark a little after midnight and made it down the SK to the vicinity of O'Neill Butte and then aborted. He simply was not having fun and didn't want to be there. This may have been his last attempt at a 1-day R2R2R.
May 4, 2016
I am going a little later this year thanks to a late start on my serious training regimen. The GC weather forecast calls for sunny and clear, with 70 deg at the South Rim, and 90 at Phantom Ranch. Just about ideal. I feel well trained after lots of hill work on Camelback Mt., Piestewa Peak, Thompson Peak in the McDowells, and the Flat Iron in the Superstitions; however, my training isn't as deep this year. My total, serious training time lasted about 7 weeks as opposed to the 12 weeks during a normal year. Doug isn't going again this year and has actually resigned himself to not attempting it anymore. I arrive at my forest campsite and turn in early at 4:15pm, sleeping in the back of my 4Runner. I take a sleep aid and plan/hope to get several hours of sleep before getting up at 10:30pm. After 6 hours in the sack, sleeping maybe 3 hours, I awake at 10:15pm and head for the SK trailhead. My goal in starting early is to hopefully finish in time to get a shower before the 10pm shower closing time. I also expect to go slower this year in order to allow time for taking video with my new Sony Action Cam. I start down the trail at 11:25pm. The temperature is in the low 40's and feels quite nice with very little breeze. As I approach Skeleton Point, I realize that my tripod has fallen off my backpack. Probably it fell off when I set my pack down at my water cache spot below Cedar Ridge. It is too far back (maybe 20 min) and all uphill to return for it, so I continue on without it. I'll just have to make do without it. My first 5 hours of walking, all the way to Ribbon Falls Hill, are by flashlight which is not especially fun. I had intended to do this on a moonlit night, but things came up that spoiled that timing. There is no moon tonight. The climb up to the North Rim seems harder than it should be. I wonder whether I am going to have enough strength and energy to climb out the SK later. Several times, I have the urge to abort, knowing that it is going to be really hard later. Nevertheless, the longer I go and the higher I climb, the less likely it is that I will abort. Finally, I arrive at the North Rim where it is fairly mild and pleasant with very little breeze. Quite nice. I stay for 37 min to take photos and video and to make a phone call to Cindy, and then head back down the trail. I feel pretty good on the way back. My legs feel okay and I have only a reasonable amount of foot pain. I fetch my Diet Mt. Dew from Wall Creek and enjoy it. The return crossing goes quite well, but by the time I get back to Phantom Ranch I am tired. I stop at the Canteen and have a couple of Lemmys and then head for my water cache near the river ranger station. I find my water cache and also the trekking poles that I carried down the SK and get ready to head out. A ranger comes by and gives me a popsicle. A POPSICLE of all things! What an unexpected treat! I leave the river at 3:57pm and start up the SK trail, not feeling especially strong or energetic. I struggle quite a bit through the first quarter to the Tipoff, moving slowly and taking several sit-down rest breaks, not feeling especially well. I suspect that the two Lemmys are not sitting well with me, perhaps it was too much sugar. After taking 1:15 hours to reach the Tipoff followed by a 20 minute break, I am losing hope that I will make it out in time for a shower. I also have some charley-horse type cramps that I've never had before. Looks like my training may have been insufficient this year. I know that I will make it out, but suspect that it will be pretty late... too late for a shower. Moving on into the second quarter, to Skeleton Point, I actually pick up a little steam and make it through that quarter in 50 minutes. Suddenly I am hopeful again. The charley-horse cramps are gone and I don't feel the need for sit-down breaks like before. I stuggle on through the next two quarters in reasonable time to finish at 8:29pm, having climbed from the river in 4:32 hours, exactly 1 hour longer than last year. That is a poor time, but I am happy to be out and happy to have time to get to the shower. After two years of nutrition success with PB&J sandwiches and fruit cups, I repeated that strategy this year and it seemed to work again. I had NO feelings of nausea all day and my core didn't feel depleted at all. The PB&J and fruit seems to have done the trick again. Fatigue on the climb out the SK suggested that my training was insufficient this year. My feet acceptably good all day and I finished with only a couple of minor blisters. I credit that to a workable combination of Nike Air One TR shoes and Sole Blue insoles. The trails had little traffic today and I saw a total of 7 others doing R2R2R that day. On the way back from the North Rim, I felt strongly that this would likely be my last 1-day R2R2R, and especially felt that way on the climb out the SK. After being home for a few dayse, that feeling subsided and I now think I may not be ready to quit. Walking those first 5 hours by flashlight was unpleasant and my training could have been better. If I can put in the proper amount of training next year and also pick a moonlit night, then I think another trip could be fun and successful.

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