Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Adventure into the Big Ditch


On Saturday, a group of friends and I took a trip to Arizona to run the double crossing of the Grand Canyon. The famous R2R2R is known for it's beauty and for it's ability to kick your butt. " Team Diablo", consisted of Dennis, Dan, Tim, Dave, Tamara, Suzanna, and me. Two years ago a few of us started at the Bright Angel trail, but this year we started at the South Kaibab trailhead. All of us wore hydration packs except Dennis. He is a two bottle kind of guy. I wondered how he would do in the 100 degree heat with only two bottles. As it turned out, there was plenty of water and he did fine with what he carried. Looking back, he was probably the smarter one. I know that I was carrying a heavy load. I carried enough food to last me a week and of course, I didn't even eat half of it!
The South Kaibab trail was mellow and relaxing. We arrived at Phantom Ranch and refueled and refilled our packs and spent some time talking to some hikers. From the Phantom ranch we headed into the "box." The Box is a narrow gorge carved through the deep Vinshu Schist by Bright Angel Creek. The gradient is steadily uphill, but at a very low angle, so the entire stretch is runnable. The next 2.5 miles to Cottonwood, then to Roaring Springs cabin at the base of the rim, and then the steep climb up to the North Rim. Climbing out of the Roaring Springs Canyon is my favorite part of the run. It is so beautiful! The North Kaibab hugs the edges of high cliffs as you pass huge Redwall formations. The trail was hot, and it just seems like it takes forever to get to the top.


At the top we regrouped and Tamara arrived feeling poorly. Thinking that it might be the altitude, she descended hoping to feel better quickly. The run down was spectacular. The colors, the rock formations and the flowering cactus were amazing.

We regrouped again at Phantom Ranch where we enjoyed Lemonade and ice tea. Tamara had been vomiting for miles and she was having a hard time trying to get her body temperature down. Dennis stayed with Tamara and the rest of us started back via the Bright Angel trail. It was a long run back through the canyon as the heat was a "warm" 100 degrees. The climb up to the South Rim was long and steady. I felt strong and my feet held up great. After we finished we ate and then headed to bed. It would be several hours before Dennis and Tamara would hit the bed. Tamara struggled with either heat exhaustion or dehydration, or probably a little of both. We all decided that Dennis is going straight to heaven with no stops for staying with Tamara for several difficult hours.

It was a great run spent with great friends. We all survived the double crossing of the Grand Canyon and after we had slept, we decided that we would do it again. It is not a run to be taken lightly. It is very difficult and must only be attempted if you are in excellent shape. It was another great adventure that I am so thankful I got to experience. A big thank you to Dennis, Dave, Dan, Tim, Tamara and Suzanna. You guys were great to travel with and even greater to run with. My experience at the Big Ditch would not have been the same if you all had not been there. Thank you to Drymax socks for a blister free adventure!

Following your dreams.
Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again;and this interdependence produces the highest form of l iving. Anais Nin

7 comments:

DEANNA STOPPLER said...

I love that last photo!!!!

Anonymous said...

Great snapshot of the day. Us "South Diablos" ran Briones reservoir loop last evening and reflected on the increased depth in interpersonal connection. Very special, harder to communicate. Until next time. DH.

Dr.Rutledge said...

Hi Kelly,

Great Photos of the Grand Canyon area. Thank you for sharing them

I'm a physician and former faculty member at Harvard and Stanford Medical Schools. I discovered your blog while looking for the best health writers on the web. I reviewed your posts, and think your writing would be a great addition to the Running Community on Wellsphere, a top 5 health website that has nearly 5 million visitors monthly. If you would like to learn more about how you can join our Health Blogger Network, republish your blog posts and be featured on the Wellsphere platform, just drop me an email at dr.rutledge@wellsphere.com.

Cheers,
Geoff

kelly said...

I love that photo too, Deanna!

kelly said...

Hey Dennis, it's really special to have good friends that you can be totally yourself with. Oh, it's nice when they have good taste in music, too :)

kelly said...

Hi Geoff, Thanks for the note. I will send you an email and I look forward to talking to you. Thanks!

George said...

Kelly a group of us from Reno did the R2R2R2R the week before you. What a spectaular run that is. Like you I was gaga over the North Rim and the run down is out of this world. I'm glad you all had a wonderful day out there, well except maybe for two of you but at least they made it home ok. We had three guys take 25 hours and I was having nightmares about them as I was asleep safe in my tent but they made it home safely.