Monday, April 16, 2007

Double Crossing of the Grand Canyon

Well, we did it!! Suzanna, Florencia, Leslie and I embarked on an epic adventure through the Grand Canyon. Let me say that another way. We ran the DOUBLE crossing of the Grand Canyon. It was awesome and invigorating, daunting and exhausting.
We started our journey at 5:30am with the outside temperature at 24 degrees. We bundled up in our warmest stuff and headed down the Bright Angel trail. Friends John and Mark started with us too. I didn't have a true feeling for how large and astounding the Grand Canyon is until I started to run INTO it. The color of the rocks are deceiving. The dramatic Redwall limestone layer which lies about half way between the rim and the river is not one uniform color. It has shades of purple, as well as brown, orange and streaks of black. Mule deer are everwhere, standing close enough to touch. Their large ears looking like jack rabbits. The trails are steep but there are many runnable sections. We stopped alot to take pictures and just to absorb the 2 billion years of earth's history carved out of limestone, sandstone, and shale of the canyon walls. Phantom Ranch is at the bottom of the canyon at 4,800 feet. It is a great place to stop and gather yourselves for the climb up to the North Rim. After departing Phantom Ranch we ran along the Bright Angel creek and enjoyed the brilliant blooms of the prickly pear cactus, the Indian Paintbrush wildflowers and the tall vertical stalks of the century plant. The trail winds through a section called The Box, which has near vertical walls soaring up to the sky. The Colorado River bisects the canyon near here, and you must cross a long suspension bridge to get to the other side. The climb up to the North Rim was hot and long. Being out of shape and with my foot taped to the max with duct tape, I really struggled along this climb. I was alone during this section, as the others ran on ahead. I fought the negative feelings that kept creeping into my mind and remembered how lucky I am to be healthy enough to attempt this incredible journey.
The North Rim was incredible with snow up at the top. I stayed for just a minute and then headed down the mountain. The journey back was awesome. Leslie stayed with me and kept me company. I feel bad that my lack of running condition prevented me from running with everyone, but that is the way life goes sometimes. I owe Leslie big time for staying with me. It is not safe to run there alone. Getting hurt while running in this beautiful canyon could have grave consequences. You must be prepared for anything. We finished at about 8pm. A full day with lots of water stops. I am tired , but I feel so ALIVE. Suzanna and Florencia ran strong and finished ahead of us. We heard them yelling when they reached the top of the South Rim. It was empowering to hear there echo through the canyon. My good friend Tom from Dallas ran the Rim to Rim that day too. He finished tired but happy for a safe, beautiful adventure. I thank God for the strength to accomplish this goal and for my partner Matt, who always supports me during all my incredible dreams.


Anonymous said... are awesome! I am so pround of your accomplishments. I totally support your passion for running.....I can see now how it truly completes you and who you are and that is what makes you such a special person to me! Thanks Kelly for your friendship and our fun times at work together! love and happy healing heal, Valerie

kelly said...

Thanks, Val. It was quite an awesome experience. Thanks for your loving support always.

olga said...

Kelly, wonderful adventure!!! So happy you got with it and had no serious pain (not at least that you mentioned it). Awesome run, so jealous! How was the water on the way? Way to go!

kelly said...

Olga, it was an incredible adventure. There was a lot of water along the way, but we needed a hydration pack to be sure. My ankle did great. I do have a nasty blister that isn't healing though. Put this on your list to do.