GRAND CANYON R2R2R PART DEUX RECAP: DAY 2

If you missed my recap of Day 1 in which I crossed the Grand Canyon from South Rim to North Rim, you can check it out here.

The second day, the plan was to go back down the North Rim but then go back up the South Rim through Bright Angel Trail. I didn’t remember much from the first time doing the second day two years go because I was beat up exhausted, lol! So in a way, there was a lot of newness for me this time, which I liked.

Unlike going down the South Rim, going down the North Rim allows you to actually run if you wanted to. Last time I did this, I hardly ran at all, but this time, I was feeling pretty good and I was with my husband which automatically makes me feel safer and more adventurous. So as soon as our group started, we all bolted and ran down. All the way down. To Phantom Ranch. A little over 13 miles.

There were some not-so-safe sections where we did slow down…like here

#notafraidofheights

Can you see me? #notafraidofheights

and here

Can you see what's around that corner? Yeah, me either.

Can you see what’s around that corner? Yeah, me either.

but really, the majority of the way down, we ran. It was just so freaking awesome running through the Grand Canyon. I mean, not many can say that they ran through the Grand Canyon!! It was exhilaratingly amazing. Surreal.

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I was definitely sore from the day before but I just had an energy that I can’t describe. An energy that compelled me to keep going and run. I felt so strong and I might’ve not been going very fast, but I felt like a total badass.

There wasn’t much photo-taking or eating on the way down. Hardly at all, actually. I made sure to hydrate and we made one pit stop at Manzanita where I had to use the restroom. There, I munched on a snack, but we pretty much went the whole way without a whole lot to eat. We skipped the last stop, Cottonwood, and went the 7+ miles stretch all the way to Phantom Ranch.

You can see our route coming down from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch in this map

You can see our route coming down from the North Rim to Phantom Ranch in this map

We were anxious to get to Phantom Ranch as we knew that once we got there, we’d eat and then begin our climb out. But when we got there, we realized we had to go through security.

Shhh!!! There's a deer over there!

Shhh!!! There’s a deer over there!

There was a beautiful deer blocking the trail to Phantom Ranch!! We waited a bit and then the deer went running off.

We hung out for about 20 minutes or so, not long all, eating some Beef Jerky and drinking some lemonade. We refilled our packs, and headed out! I thought I’d want more rest but really, I was ready to go. I knew the heat awaited us and the later it got, the worse it would be.

From Phantom Ranch, you can go back up through the South Rim Trail (where we started yesterday) or you can go back up through Bright Angel Trail, which is what we had planned to do. I remembered from my last crossing, that we would be exposed to the sun for most of the climb up.

People ask me if going up the North Rim is harder than going up the South Rim (through either trail) and honestly, each is its own beast. Going up the North Rim for me is difficult because you’re talking about going straight up. You’re covered though, as there are a lot of trees lining the way but it doesn’t make that climb any easier.

The South Rim/Bright Angel Trail is difficult because of the sun. So not only are you going up, up, up, you’re doing it with the heat on your back. If I had to choose though, I’d say going up the first day (South and up through North) is harder.

Anyway, we hit Bright Angel Trail and were on our way.

Go up this way! :)

Go up this way! 🙂

Crossing the Colorado

Crossing the Colorado

Like I mentioned earlier, I had forgotten most of the second day since the last time I crossed, and one of the things I completely didn’t remember was the soft sand that made the up climb even harder.

What is this sand you speak of?

What is this sand you speak of?

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It was so weird to see this soft beach sand at the bottom of the Grand Canyon but it made sense since the trail was right with the water. The trail wasn’t sandy the entire way up but you’d see it in parts along the way, even allll the way up.

We took a pit stop along the way to get some of the sand out of our shoes and eat a snack. Then we noticed that the upness we had been doing started to go back down and we met the water again. This was so disheartening because we really thought we beginning our ascent and now it felt like we were starting over.

But onward we went. I kept on telling my husband that Devil’s Corkscrew awaited us–some not so very nice switchbacks–and I waited for them but really, everything started to look the same to me that when we reach a flat landing where we could look down, we had already passed it!

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I was so tired. The heat was beating on me and I felt like I couldn’t drink enough water. I had been taking salt tabs the entire way and I had some sugar candy so I didn’t feel malnutritioned; it was just the accumulation of two tough days of climbing.

Very little pictures were taken going up. It was like last time where I really just wanted a Coke. I was ready to be at the top.

We reached Indian Gardens, finally, which was our last big stop. We filled up our water packs one last time and took a quick look at the map–4.8 miles to go. Hours.

I was losing steam and beginning to feel bummed, but then my husband would say something funny and I would remember how much I loved having him there.

When you get closer to the top, you start to see a lot of tourists who come down a few miles. It got to be very crowded and I wanted a sign that said, “I’ve been climbing for 20 miles!!! Get out of my way!!!” Some groups would take the entire trail and not pull aside for uphill climbers.

We made a turn and then I could finally see the top top and it was a glorious sight. It was a ways away, but I could see it.

Looking back at what we crossed and kinda sorta done with pictures, lol

Looking back at what we crossed and kinda sorta done with pictures, lol

I was renewed with energy at having seen the finish line and I picked up my pace. Finally, after many many miles–over 45 in two days–we were done!

The smile that is the elevation map of a Grand Canyon Crossing :)

The smile that is the elevation map of a Grand Canyon Crossing 🙂

I sat down on a bench and became overwhelmed with emotion. I held my husband’s hand as I let the tears flow. I was so happy. So happy to have shared this amazing experience with him. This would be something we both could have together, forever.

A woman nearby asked if everything was okay and my husband told her we had just finished a double crossing in two days. She begin applauding me and then told the people she was with who begin applauding as well. A mini crowd of people began applauding, and I smiled a “thank you” through my tears. It was such a special moment.

Crossing the Grand Canyon is something life-changing. It really is. You test your body and mind and when you make it to other side, you really feel like you can do anything. It’s hard of course, and yes, the climbs are difficult, the heat makes it worse; there are snakes, insects, animals, along the way–but you push through all of that. You find something within yourself to make it happen. I know that my husband gave me a lot strength, but he didn’t cross for me. I did. Like so many hard things in life, you just do it.

You just do it. 

Thank you all so much for following my crazy adventures. As I’ve said many times, I’m so grateful to have this little corner of the web world to document my journeys. If you have any questions about crossing the Grand Canyon, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I’ll help as much as I can. Don’t think this is something you can’t do. ❤ , helly

 

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Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim: What I Packed and Other Misc.

Well, I’m back and I’m alive!

It was absolutely incredible and I’m sitting on my couch super sore as I write this, lol! Before I get to the amazingness that was crossing the Grand Canyon twice, I just want to relay the “boring” stuff first–what I packed, what I ate, what some of the places I visited are called, etc. Maybe it will be useful for someone planning a trip soon.

Hydration Pack

Okay, as far as what I used to stuff everything in, I used my Ultimate Hydration Wink hydration vest.

Canyon ready!

Canyon ready!

This pack is uh-mazing. I wrote about it here. It has a 70 oz reservoir which I refilled several times while I crossed.

I love this pack because it’s got a lot of room for storage and it has storage pockets in front for easy access to stuff you’ll use regularly (cell phone, gels, etc.)

What Was Inside

-Emergency card and ID
-Cash (for lemonade when we reached Phantom Ranch)
-My glasses (in case something happened to my contacts)
-Chapstick
-Hand sanitizer
-Tissue
-Sunglasses
-Jacket (rolled up when not in use and on outside of pack–see pic above)
-Phone (for pictures-there is no service down there, lol)
-Hiking poles (on outside of pack-you’d be fine w/o poles but they sure do help)

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You can see my poles on my pack here in this pic

Food

-a small orange
-two tortillas
-4 cookies
-Starburst
-a pickle (packaged)
-pretzels
-large bag of Beef Jerky
-Salt tabs
-2 gels (never used them)
-20oz Gatorade (this was on the outside of the pack where I rolled up my jacket)

I ate all of my food the first day I crossed, but had a lot left over the second as the second day goes a lot faster.

I mentioned that I refilled my reservoir several times. There are water stops along the Canyon that allows for that. It’s recommend you bring your own filter but I didn’t both times I crossed and was fine.

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You can see from the map on the left and the key on the right that there are water stops along the way.

What “R2R2R” means

Rim to rim to rim is what R2R2R stands for. It means you go from one rim of the Canyon to the other and back again. You can see there are two routes you can take coming from the South Rim–Bright Angel Trail or South Kaibab Trail.

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The first day, we went from South Kaibab Trail to North Kaibab Trail with a pit stop at Ribbon Falls and it took us roughly 11 hours. The second day, we went from North Kaibab up through Bright Angel Trail and it took us around 9 hours.

The first day is “hardest” because going up to the North Rim is brutal. The second day is difficult because going up Bright Angel Trail leaves you exposed to the sun for hours. The whole thing is an awesome sufferfest.

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We did NOT double cross on the same day, lol!

Where We Slept 

There is a nice lodge/motel at the South Rim near the entrance to Bright Angel Trail. We stayed there Saturday night before we started the first day Sunday morning. The rooms were like a regular motel and very comfortable. They had a “cafeteria” type-esque place to eat with different types of food–Mexican, Pasta, Grilled.

At the North Rim, we stayed at a little cabin at the Grand Canyon Lodge. They have a restaurant where you can eat and also a smaller “deli”. We ate at the deli.

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The above picture is a lounge area where you can see the views of the Canyon. There’s also an outside deck:

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I would totally recommend visiting this place if you just want to “see” the Canyon and not actually go inside it, lol. You do have to make reservations if you want to eat in the restaurant though; the deli you can just walk in. You also don’t need to be staying at the lodge if you want to eat.

Okay, that’s enough of the “boring” stuff. I’ll whip up the awesome details/pictures of the actual crossing here in the next couple of days.

If you want a sneak peek of pics, follow my Insta 😀

Thanks for following my journey!! ❤ , helly

 

 

Where Is Running Taking Me This Time? {The Friday Five!}

So, Wednesday was National Running Day and I posted how I had done some pre-celebrating, I celebrated the day of, and I’m continuing the celebration by sharing with you:

Where is Running Taking Helly now??

I’m linking up with the DC Trifecta Ladies Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney on their Friday Five  to share with you the new (and old) places I’ll be heading to this year and next 🙂

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know I’ve been able to see and go to some fabulous places and run–(ahem, can I go back to Spain please?). I’ve got some news to share:

1. Mt. Humphreys 

I love me some trail running/hiking and last year I was lucky enough to hike the Grand Canyon and complete R2R2R. Mt. Humphreys is also in Arizona and it’s actually the highest point in the state with an elevation of 12,637ft!

from the USDA website:

Humphreys Trail is steep and long and extremely rocky in its higher reaches. Above treeline it exposes you completely to the whims of nature. Here it may snow during any month of the year. In late summer monsoon storms can set the high country snapping with lightning. Be prepared to turn around and head for lower ground if a thunderstorm is brewing!

Once you do reach the summit ridge you’ll feel like you’re standing on top of the world. Off in the distance, the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the mesas that are home to the Hopi Indians the Verde Valley and Oak Creek Canyon form a 360 degree panorama. And after you’ve seen it you’ll be able to say you’ve been as high as you can get in Arizona.

To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’ll be making this trek in August (with my husband!) and I CANNOT wait!

yes, please!

yes, please!

2. Vancouver here I come!

I’ve never been to Canada but in September, that’s where I’ll be! My husband has a work trip out there and he’s decided this would be a great opportunity for me to meet him and explore together.

I’ve heard about some great trails in and near Vancouver and I’m looking forward to finding and choosing one to do. I actually came across a blogger who wrote about a trail in Vancouver she really liked. I got so excited and commented how I was going to be there in a few months but do you think I wrote down the trail she took? Or her blog site? (I had done a google search.) Though, I’m sure I won’t have any trouble finding somewhere to run, so don’t you worry 🙂

3. Chicago Marathon

Ahhh!!!! I’m so freaking excited about this one!!! As you know, I’m raising money for the Ronald McDonald House (donate here if you’re so inclined ❤ ) and so far, it has been such an incredible time. I’ve gotten to know people fundraising through the Facebook page and we get weekly e-mails of motivation from the team leaders. We were even provided with a training schedule that I liked so much I’ve decided to follow it instead of my usual Hal.

It’s also going to be my husband’s first marathon which adds to the specialness of this race. He is amazing, so supportive, and I’m just completely a mess over this guy. I’m so excited for him to go through the journey of training for a marathon and running one and seeing how much it changes you. He’s seen it change me.

4. USA Half Marathon Invitational: San Diego, CA

You might have heard about this new race being billed the “Boston” of  1/2 Marathons. It’s a 1/2 marathon that requires a qualifying time to register. The times are generous (I still think it’s tough lol!) because of its newness but I anticipate–and the race says so itself–the times will become more competitive as the race increases in popularity.

My qualifying time for my age group (30-35) is 2:00.

from the race website:

With so many fun runs, mud runs, and color runs being launched nationwide, we noticed a decline in the production of competitive endurance events in the United States. This race was developed to encourage recreational runners to set new goals and challenges for themselves. The USA Half Marathon is the first “Qualifiers Only” half marathon, designed for elite, sub-elite, and competitive runners.

Runners receive a qualifier’s jacket (ala Boston), a medal, and a finisher’s certificate.

The race is in San Diego in November. Now, San Diego is only a 6 hour drive from Phoenix but I’ve never been there! I’m pretty pumped that my first San Diego race will be an inaugural one and one that I think will be a pretty sweet race.

5. R2R2R (again!)

I’m heading back to the Canyon!!!!!

I said the only way I’d ever do this again was if my husband did it with me. Well, he’s been getting pretty into this running business and agreed to go with me next year! So, R2R2R 2016 will happen!

It’s not a race and we don’t run the entire thing, nor do we complete it in one day (although you can and some in my group have!) If you’re a new reader, you can check out my posts describing this 2 day adventure of 20+ miles a day, here and here.

the edge of glory

the edge of glory

I’m so excited about my running future. Even more so because it’s become my husband’s too–all 5 things I named we’ll be doing together!!! With the exception of Vancouver, we’ll also be doing all of this awesomeness with my running group AZTNT. This group has become my family, and I’ve been able to do some amazing things because of them and I’m so, so very grateful.

 

And there you have it!! With running, you never know where you’ll be heading to next! 🙂

I hope all of you have a great weekend!! ❤ , helly

–Any exciting race-cations planned? 

–Which of the 5 interest you? Would you want to cross the Grand Canyon twice?