It was 4:15am and I had just entered the Angel Bright trail head heading down into the Grand Canyon. I could see some other lights farther down the trail and thinking, We're Late! they already got the jump on us. Tim and I were running together with Bill, Molly and Cynthia behind, we all had prepared for a little colder temperature but quickly the temperature in the canyon was warming up as we were descending and it didn't take long before I had to stop and take my jacket off, as well as, Tim took his off. Soon we were past the 1.5mile water stop and being as we didn't need to refill on we went but by the time we got to mile 3 we had to refill some and strip another long sleeve layer off. It's here where I think I lost my small absorbent towel, boo! Good things its from REI and I can get another one.
The Sun was starting to rise and the light into the canyon was pretty amazing, I had to stop a few time and just look around and take some pictures. This is when Tim would start pulling away from me and then I would work to catch back up but after a few times of doing that I realized it may not be a good idea to work that hard this early in the run so I backed off and just let him go. He slowed up a couple of times and waited but then he was gone. About half way down I was passed by two other runners, guy and girl, who were killing it! They zoomed by me and kept on going, saying that they too, were heading for a full crossing. Being as I was good on water when I hit the 4 mile mark, I just kept on going and soon was the Colorado River! This part of the trail is nice too because it runs along the river for a while, then on to some sandy beach super soft sand, then your basically at the foot bridge. This was super cool and I took my time going across, not only that I happened to be the ONLY one crossing in either direction so I thought that was pretty cool especially because a huge group had just come across and I was passing them head on ever since I got the the river. When I was fully across the river, there was a small water refill and bathroom spot so I refilled and took into the women's bathroom simply because the guys seem to not know how to clog the shitter and over flow it so it was disgusting. I was just glad there was not any ladies around and I was able to get in and out before someone came! BTW, Ladies, nice job on keeping the bathroom clean!
While I was refilling my pack and grabbing a snack from the buffet Bill came running up and we quickly exchanged words and he ran off heading to Phantom Ranch which was 7 miles away. I made sure to fill most of my pack just to make sure I didn't run out and after drinking an Isagenix shake I was off and running. The run to Phantom ranch is nice too because there's a couple of small foot bridges you have to cross, these must have been used in the mining days as the bridge was build with a center raised portion to most likely keep the carts from rolling left or right on the bridge. I quickly noticed that since crossing the river the grade was slightly starting to climb and would do so all the way to Phantom Ranch. Arriving at Phantom was pretty cool as there was many camp grounds, small cabins and of course the mule station and general store, which was closed, opened at 8 am but it was only 7am so I kept moving.
Running from Phantom Ranch to the Ranger Station was about another 1-1.5 miles and when I got there I refilled my pack because I couldn't remember how far the next station was and thought it was at least 7 miles. As I left here more and more hikers/runners were coming head on and this would continue until I reached the top of the North Rim so sharing part of the trail was a continuous thing the remainder of the morning. Not that I mind but some people just have no clue and walk side by side blocking the whole trail and expect you, (me) to get out of the way or step aside, I did for a while but when it became more and more I finally got tired of being nice and started standing my ground and we either bumped shoulders, or you moved, especially, if I was running!
The trail started to go in and of straight up rock faced walls and I could tell the grade was starting to get steeper. There was some small rollers along the way and a few more of those cool bridge crossings. Then there was a great small stream crossing which was great because I wet my head and hat as the Sun was pretty much up. I soon entered a water refill just before Roaring Springs, and several people were here so it took a few minutes to fill but that's okay because I sat down, rested and grabbed a snack. It was about mile 18.7 or 4.7 miles from the top. Some how I underestimated how long it would take me to get the top and I had dumped some of my water out so I wouldn't have to carry a heavier pack. This just turned out to be a bad mistake because the last 4 miles was nothing but climbing for me and just took me a long time to get to the last water stop about 2 miles from the top.This part of the climb was pretty dang steep and the switch backs were just wearing me out! The Sun was also shining on this part of the trail so it was warmer. A couple of times I almost caught up to Bill but then he just pulled away. I stopped a few times on the switch backs simply because I was out of breath, the elevation is also increasing as we climb up to 7000+ feet, by the time I reached Supai Tunnel I was just about out of water and conserving for the last hour was not fun. Once through the tunnel the water refill was just around the corner and when I got there I sat down and took a several minutes to refill and catch up.During this time Tim came running in, already down from the top of the North. I yelled out to him and he came over, we chatted a couple of minutes while he grabbed a drink from the refill and then told me, "Stop screwing around and get moving" haha.. soon after I got up and moved along. I was cramping some in my quad coming up the last mile but I know that was from conserving my water. Now on the last 2 miles up I was feeling much better other than the moving out of the way for Mule Train coming down and stirring up tons of dust and leaving lots of poop and pee on the trail. As I was about .6 miles from the top Bill comes running down and tells me how much we have left to go, I was walking with some people I had met that were from New Mexico so we all stayed together the last 1/2 mile up.
It was great reaching the top! NORTH SIDE!!!! and it was so much cooler here! I was tired of sweating so it was pleasant to sit down and eat. I ate a sandwich, drank a shake, pop tart and chips. I took about 15-20 minutes here as I knew the run down was going to be non-stop and fun so I wanted to be fueled and ready for a few hours. The water at the North side was super cold and refreshing! I dumped all my pack and put cold water in and my hand held. I was then off and running back down on the Return to the South Rim!
to be continued...