After leaving Hugh, I picked up the pace, hoping to catch someone in our group. I refilled my Cambelbak at Cottonwood. Cambelbak was surprisingly comfortable to wear, although about 4 lbs heavier each time I refilled. Caught up to Nathan on the way up to the North Rim, then Nicole and Andy P., and finally Dan and Jeff. Stayed with them for the rest of the day. As we climbed closer to the top, it will just a little harder to breath and heart rate jumped and we were walking most of the time with a few breaks. We kept asking people coming down how far and weren't sure who to believe. We saw Andy S. and Rodney coming back down. Finally, someone said a couple minutes and I think we were there in 5 minutes. I wore my GPS but I think it was a little wacky since it said 26 miles at the N. Rim and I suspect it should have been closer to 23.
We arrived around 11:30 am, rested about 15 min, had someone take our picture and then headed back down. We were able to run some of the trail down. There was some flat runnable trail but overall for this trek you are either going up or down. We refilled water at Cottonwood campground and arrived at Phantom Ranch about 3:40 pm. Jeff hoped to get a Coke, but all they sold was lemonade, ice tea, and beer so we all had a lemonade. Nathan arrived shortly before we took off to head to the Bright Angel trail for our ascent to the South Rim.
We ran maybe a mile after we crossed the bridge and then walked the rest of the way up . They trail was quite sandy at this point. Earlier had been mostly gravel and rock. This trail was a bit more technical as well. Took our time and took several breaks. Stopped at the Indian Gardens and sign said 4.5 miles to go and we left about 6 pm. Eventually got dark and had to turn on our lights. Very slow going the rest of the way and my GPS surpassed the 4.5 miles. Seemed like we were never going to get to the top. We could see lights on the trail below us of others coming up in the dark. We were told that there was a record number of people attempting Rim to Rim on the same day. Finally, we reached the top and had someone take our picture. Some other people we didn't know had just finished ahead of us.
Packed about 3500 calories in food and consumed every last calorie from my Succeed Ultra drink, 7 Accel Gels, and various bars, crackers, and cashews. I was hungry by the time we reached the top and also freezing cold as the temp seemed to really drop in the last couple miles. I got my clothes off pretty quick and jumped into the shower to warm up. Rodney and Andy S. in our group finished ahead of us and Nathan was not far behind us. Rodney and Yvonne finished about 1:30 am and Nicole and Andy P. came in at 2 am! Nicole had been out there 25 hours and the next morning seemed to be in pretty good shape.
This was the most enjoyable vacation I have had in a long time. I am not sure my report can describe the experience, but it was just amazing and physically grueling at the same time. Almost just too much to take in at once. We all got along great and had a good time before, during, and on the trip home.
Not sure these pictures do the Grand Canyon justice, but should give a good idea of some of the scenery and tell the rest of the story that I can't put into words.
Rodney A. photos
GPS had 52.1 miles, but it was pretty erratic. Based on where we started and my trip to Ribbon Falls, I am claiming 47 miles. Maps that start at S. Kaibab taking the same route our group took say it is 44.9 miles.