Monday we drove 8 hours from Salt Lake to the Grand Canyon. The drive is scenic as you pass Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and finally drive into Arizona. We had reserved a campsite within Grand Canyon Park for 3 nights. After our cold-weather camping adventure in Zion Ntl Park back in November, we came prepared with plenty of firewood, layers (upon layers!!), and good food. Monday afternoon and evening were filled with logistics and prepping our packs for the run the next day. We got to bed a bit late, as we had to drive around the park to try and pick up the NCAA national championship basketball game on AM radio. Our Badgers were playing Duke, and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't know the score. Unfortunately they lost, but I was super-proud of my Badgers and hit the hay for 5 hours of good sleep.
3am wake up call, breakfast, and putting on all our run clothes. One of the biggest challenges in doing the run in the springtime is the 20-30 degree difference in temperature you typically experience from the top to the bottom of the canyon. When we started the run, temp was in the low 30's, but the high temp for the bottom of the canyon was upper 70's. They were also calling for very high winds all day, so we brought A LOT of layers. Looking back it was likely overkill, but it was our first self-supported ultra-run @ 47 miles and we wanted to have enough clothing to survive a night in the wilderness in the small chance something would happen to us. Speaking of safety we also each had space blankets, lighters, rope, knife, water purification tabs, basic first aid kit, 2 L bladders for water + 2 softflask bottles @ 0.75L each, and ~1500 calories of food. We also had cell phones with us, but you get no service in the canyon. However, there are emergency phones at certain checkpoints along the route. In attempting a self-supported run of this magnitude it's imperative to have a healthy amount of respect for the conditions, the terrain, how far you are going, and the fact that even though you are in the 2nd most visited national park in the USA, it is still the backcountry! I certainly said a few prayers along the way asking God for protection.
On to the fun part of the recap- the running and the VIEWS! We hit the top of Bright Angel trail at about 5am. We spent the first hour in the dark with our headlamps on. I felt really awkward and disoriented to start as we didn't have time to scope out the trail the day before. I kept my eyes on the ground and slowly followed the switchbacks. Dr. Hottie yelled out to me, "wow, check out the steep drop off!" Uhhh... no thanks honey I'm just going to keep my eyes on the trail for now thank you!
So that's it! We did it and lived to tell the tale. I often joke with Dr. Hottie that we bicker less when we're doing long runs together than when we're at home just hanging out. For the most part, we work really well together in these challenges & I couldn't do it without his support....and he certainly couldn't do it without my coaching and planning...haha!
Adventure completed. We'll be back Grand Canyon- you were good to us!