First was Mt. Taylor. This was my third time running it and definitely my slowest (and hardest). That mountain just chewed me up and spit me out. Not sure why. No big deal. I finished.
Here's a comparison of my new shirt with the shirt I wore to the race:
Not much time to recover from that before it was time to load up our little trailer and head to the Grand Canyon. What a trip! Met up with Jen Goyette and stayed on the North Rim for a few days. We had challenged each other to do a Rim to Rim to Rim rike (rike = run + hike). We were at the North Kaibab trail head by 4:30 am. Surprised to see a table and canopy with a bunch of people with clip boards. Turns out some folks from UNM Emergency Medicine were conducting a study of Rim to Rim folks that weekend. We let them weigh us, take our pulse and pulse ox, and answered a few questions and then we were off.
We had plenty of food, plenty of water, headlights and batteries and enthusiasm. Watching the sun light up the canyon walls was amazing (Jen said lots of things were amazing).
Our biggest obstacle of the morning was at Cottonwood Campground. There are toilets there and we were more than ready for them. Alas, they were both occupied by men who seemed to be in distress. We heard lots of groaning and other disgusting noises coming from each toilet. Finally one of them opened up. The man who emerged seemed to be ok but the smell was horrible. We took turns in that one because the man in the other one still did not emerge.
Then we were off to Phantom Ranch. No intentions of stopping there, although we did check in with the researchers once again. We told them how much we drank and what we ate. They took our trash!! We stopped to say hi to the mules and were off again.
We hit the Colorado River in good spirits, ate a sandwich and headed up Bright Angel Trail. Totally beautiful. It wasn't hot, thank heavens!
We had a bit of rain at the top and then figured out how to take the shuttle buses over to South Kaibab Trail head. We also bought wonderful sandwiches. Mine had a little container of hummus, which I cleaned out with my very dirty fingers.
About two miles down South Kaibab trail, we came across a trio who were backpacking. Now, South Kaibab is a steep trail. It is about 7 miles long and ends at the river and Phantom Ranch. There is no water on the trail. The older man of this trio had dropped his pack and was sitting on a rock, covered in sweat. He asked us, "When does this trail level off?" OMG! He was in way over his head. I just pointed to where the trail got really steep and indicated that the river was "down there." Dude, it's the GRAND CANYON, not the grand plateau.
On down we went, still having fun but also realizing that we had miles to go before we would sleep. Jen kept me entertained pointing out different kinds of rocks.
I was more interested in what they looked like, than what they were.
And of course, I was looking out for animals.
At Phantom Ranch, Jen pointed and said, "there's my shitter." I looked up to see the man who had been in the toilet at Cottonwood Campground. He hadn't made it far, but he looked much better than when we saw him in the morning.
We ran out of daylight when we were just starting back up North Kaibab. We pulled out the headlights again. The big excitement was having bats fly right up to my face. I could see them clearly in my light, but they never touched me.
We stopped to look at the stars and the Milky Way. Truly beautiful. We also saw that there was lightning in the distance, even though there were no clouds overhead. Time to move our butts up the trail. We did get wet and cold but made it back to the car before midnight.
Does it get any better?