“Remember: Hiking to the river and back in one day is dangerous and never recommended due to limited shade, extreme heat and a near 5,000 foot elevation change!” – from The Guide- Maps and Information for Grand Canyon National Park, issued to visitors upon arrival.
Well they got the elevation part right, at least for the South Rim section of the day. But when we started down the Bright Angel Trail, it wasn’t the extreme heat or a lack of shade that had us concerned. At 5am, in the dark, it was the blowing snow and sub-zero temps that had us questioning if it was a good idea to try for the 47-mile double traverse of the Grand Canyon.
Last year, Christy and I ran the Rim to Rim to Rim as part of a larger off-season vacation, and found it really challenging. Actually, we walked away thinking we needed another shot at it, to try to improve our time, and at the end of the post I put up on the day, I half-seriously declared, “Next year, sub 12! Who’s in?”
We never thought anyone would call our bluff. But our friend Joe Suntum emailed us a friendly reminder of those words last August, and said that he and a group of friends were planning on giving it a go, and that we committed to it, sort of. So Christy, Lissa and I met Joe, Larry Siu, Lisa Fichman and John Lorenz at the South Rim the day before, and with the bad weather forecast in hand, we planned our day.
Once on the trail, the seven of us split up in to smaller groups and in the end, all had our own successful outings. The weather, while nasty to start, broke a few hours later and the conditions were actually pretty ideal. The North Rim, being 1400 feet higher than the South Rim, had nearly 6 inches of new snow.
It still wasn’t all that fast though. Now please don’t hold us to it, but we decided we might need to try the shorter, and therefore faster, South to North Kaibab Route. Dare I say, next year?