The Rim to Rim trail is about 40 kms in distance with a elevation gain of 8250 ft (2500m) and spans the Grand Canyon from it’s North to South end. It had been Dayna’s dream for a long time to run the Rim to Rim, (instead of the Rim to Rim to Rim which is also an option!) She came up with an idea to go down to the Grand Canyon with a group of people and split into two groups, each starting at different ends. When the groups met along the way on the trail, the idea was to exchange car keys and drive the car that was left on each side by the other group. She started planning the trip almost a year before we actually ran the trail, and there were a few bumps along the way, but in the end she sucessfully got a group of 20 of us across the canyon!
We ran the Grand Canyon with our running group Roots and Rocks. With the interest of 20 people, Dayna started putting together the details of the trip! She held a meeting to collect some money to make sure everyone was actually interested! She split the groups in to two groups of ten. One group was to stay at Bright Angels Lodge on the South side of the canyon(a really nice, comfortable hotel). The other group was to stay in the Cabins at Kiabab Lodge on the North side (a little more rustic, complete with wooden bunk-beds!) We booked our permits for the trail, booked the accomidations on each respected side of the canyon and then everyone booked their flights. We all flew into Las Vegas and met at a car-rental place where we picked up 4 vehicles, grabbed all 10 of us in them, and headed towards the canyon. Dayna also booked a hotel for everyone to stay in on the way home, we all stayed at the Luxor, for a really good price since there was so many of us! With everything so perfectly planned and booked, we didn’t think anything could go wrong….and then it did.
2 weeks before we were all set to leave for the Canyon, the USA government closed all national parks. We couldn’t beleive our luck. The crisis in the states was obviously far worse than our trip being jeoprodized, but it was still really stressful and upsetting! Something Dayna had been planning for a year, something we had all been so excited for, taken time off work, payed for, and now it was looking like we couldn’t go. We called an emergency meeting and tried to come up with a plan B. Our friend Lisa came up with the idea of hiking/running Humphrey Peak, a 20 mile, 12,500ft peak, the highest point in Arizona. It sounded like a good plan B. Dayna held off on cancelling everything until the Thursday before we left (we left on Saturday) so that we could get our money back. She also booked everyone into a hotel in Flag Staff for the 20 of us.
Friday night, we were all at home, packed and ready to head to Las Vegas in the morning, when we recieved a message from someone on our facebook page. All parks had been re-opened, including the canyon!!! Dayna frantically started calling the lodging at the South and North end of the Canyon, the hotel in Flagstaff, and all 20 of us who were set to climb a mountain that was possibly going to be -10 degrees!!! We had all packed for winter running, not summer running!! Some of the group had already flown out so Dayna packed multiple sets of lighter running clothing! Even Saturday morning at the airport waiting for our flight we were making last minute changes trying to get everything back to plan A. Once we arrived in Las Vegas, we recieved confirmation that everything was good to go… we were headed to the Grand Canyon. We all still can’t believe it all worked out, right in the knick of time.
After we had landed, we headed to the car-rental place, split the groups, loaded up the cars and headed to our respected ends of the Canyon. The three of us headed to the North end. It was an extremely long drive from Las Vegas to the canyon (about 6 hours), and we didn’t arrive at the cabins till after dark. I someone thought it would be a good idea to volunteer to be a driver and drove a GMC yukon, (I normally drive a little VW GOLF!) along the winding highway, through Nevada, Utah and Arizon!! (VERY COOL DRIVE!) When we arrived at the North side we were so suprised to see SNOW!! It was so cold, we had to ask for exta blankets and we cranked up the heat in our little rustic cabin!! We managed to sleep for about 6 hours.
We hit the trail head at 6:30, as soon as it was light. With snow everywhere, and tempteratures below 0, we were all freezing and dressed warm to start the run!!
North end group ready to go!
The first part of the run is a 2500m decent into the canyon. There are natural rock tunnels, steep drop offs, narrow trails along the rock, and epic views. This was truly one of the most beautiful runs we have ever done, it was hard to keep running as we kept pulling out our cameras!! We will let the photos do the talking!
Right before we made it the Phantom Ranch, the half way point, we met up with the other group, swapped keys and chatted about our already amazing day!
Almost the whole group!
We carried on through the canyon, and by this point of the day it was blistering hot! Living in Vancouver, where it rains A LOT, we were not used to the dryness of the canyon, so we had to be very mindful of our hydration!! When we made the turn towards Bright Angel, we were truly in the most beautiful part of the canyon. The views were incredible!
Shortly after crossing the river, we started the 2500m climb out of the canyon which is about 5km. Part way into the climb, some hikers told us they had spotted a rattle snake and showed us where he was hiding. We were told not to run passed him, and to run as far away as we could from. We decided this was a good place to wait for the whole group and make sure everyone got passed the snake safely! Luckily, the snake was content to relax in his bush, and we were able to pass with no trouble at all! For the rest of the climb out we all settled into our own paces. I got a bit of canyon fever as we could see the top of the canyon for so long, and I knew the only way out was the keep climbing!! The farther you climb out of the canyon, the more incredible the views get and we stopped constantly to capture breath taking photos!!
When we had finished, we headed to the gift-shop and bought “finishers medals”! It was such a cool idea to comemerate our 40km Rim to Rim Grand Canyon adventure!!
Tired from our run, we started the drive back to Las Vegas!! We were all in bed by 10… in Vegas…we sure know how to do Las Vegas right!!
Dayna had even more adventures on the way home, and ended up missing her and our friend Kyle’s flight because the plane decided to leave early. Luckily they were able to catch a flight to Seatle where Kyle’s mom lives, and she was able to drive them back to their car!!
Despite all the crazyness that happened in the planning of this trip, and all the stress of the whole thing not happening, we can all say that we had an absolutely amazing time! Having done the Rim 2 Rim, I don’t think we would do the Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim. It would be pretty crazy to get to the top of the canyon, and then have to turn around and run back the way you came! If you can do the car drop option, we highly recommend it. That way you can take in the sights, enjoy your time in the canyon, and take a million photos!!