It’s different when you sorta know what to expect. It’d been two years since I last did the double crossing and I remembered the exhaustion and soreness that awaited me. I’m feeling it right now.
But seeing the Grand Canyon never gets old. And like a lot of things that hurt, you forget, and you consider doing them again.
So here I was…
We arrived Saturday afternoon with our running friends and had an early dinner. It would be a 3:45 wake up for a 4:30 start time so we wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Friday night I had slept horribly but it worked in my favor because I was able to sleep early Saturday night and feel refreshed at 3:45 in the morning, lol!
The only reason I was back was because of my husband. He had never been to the Grand Canyon ever, like me the first time I did the crossing. I was just so excited to share this experience with him and it was what motivated me the entire way.
The plan was to take Day 1 slowly and take as many pictures as we could. We were on our own, with a few friends not too far behind and not too far ahead.
The sunrise was our view as we began.
The descent was very, very windy. And cold. I wasn’t comfortable taking pictures up so high and it being so windy, so it wasn’t until we reached a wide landing area that we began taking pictures.
Going down, we kept stopping to look at the views. It was just amazing. We took our time, soaking it all in.
We just kept saying how pictures couldn’t really show what we saw. The landscape looked like a photo backdrop, too perfect to be real.
From the South Rim, you get to Phantom Ranch (the bottom) pretty quickly and we actually did pretty good timing considering we stopped to take a ton of pictures, getting there in a little over 4 hours.
At Phantom Ranch, I pulled out post cards I had pre-addressed. You can get them mailed from the bottom of the Grand Canyon and they stamp it saying that’s where it came from! Last time, I had everything ready but forgot the stamps 😦 This time, oops, I did it again, but luckily one of my buddies had extras, lol!
We didn’t hang out long. We had our obligatory lemonade, ate some beef jerky, and continued on.
After Phantom Ranch is a long open stretch without any rest stops and you’re a lot more exposed to the sun.
That stretch between Phantom Ranch and the next stop, Cottonwood, is about 7 miles but before that, you can go off course to visit Ribbon Falls–a waterfall hidden along the way. It adds about a mile to your total but is a definite must see.
I knew that the next stop meant that the climbing would start. I also remembered that the first day going up was absolutely brutal. You know how they say the marathon starts at mile 20? This was that point. The marathon would be starting. Here at Cottonwood, we were at 4,040 ft and to the top meant a 4,000+ ft climb. You read that right.
Surprisingly, I was doing okay. I was moving pretty swiftly considering this was the hardest part of the day. I remembered how miserable I felt the last time I was in the very same spot, how slow I moved, and how little I enjoyed it. This time, I think again because I was with my husband, I just embraced it. Everything. The pain, the aches, the struggle, and took it as part of the journey and what made what we were doing so special.
My husband complimented my pace; he was letting me lead, but was right behind me. Pictures here were scarce, and we spoke little, but we talked about how there’s not really a way you could adequately prepare for this. When you train on the trails, you start by going up and then finish coming back down. This was the exact opposite.
We reached a spot where I had taken my last photo of the first day (the photo that’s at the top of my blog page) and we did a take two.
And like last time, that was the last picture of the day.
From there we had a mile left. A mile, and while that sounded promising, I knew that the last mile was the most difficult. But, I surged ahead. Using my poles and moving up and up and up, surprised at how steady I was. I felt so strong.
When we turned the last corner and could see the top, I smiled. Last time I had cried, happy tears but at the same time, tears of frustration at how awful I felt. This time, no tears, just a triumphant smile that I had finished the first day feeling absolutely amazing.
And unlike two years earlier, I had zero doubts that I would cross again the next day.
I’ll be recapping Day 2, North Rim to South Rim via Bright Angel Trail here in the next few days. Thank you all so much again for following my journey. I’m so grateful I have this outlet to share my experiences and document special moments of my life. ❤ , helly