Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rim2Rim2Rim: That Big D*$#@ Beautiful Ditch!

April 29th 2010:

Cowboy, Argos, and I piled into the car and left late morning for Arizona. We drove SW with small stops every few hours to break the monotony of driving, grab a latte or spicy chai, and to knock the stiffness out of our bodies. When the realization hit that we were going to get to the Grand Canyon (GC) later at night than we anticipated along with potential of having to set up camp in snowy rain, we ended up pulling into a pet-friendly hotel in Tuba City for a good night's rest and a hot shower.

The next morning, after a delicious breakfast of french toast and coffee, we headed out for the last hour and half drive to the GC. We set up camp at site #152 on Juniper Loop then threw together some homemade turkey sandwiches on roasted garlic baguette, gouda and smoked cheddar cheeses, macaroni salad, and chips. I started getting food packed together for the next morning then took a much needed nap curled up cozy in my Western Mountaineering sleeping bag with the front flap of the tent left open for a soothing breeze brushing my face.

Cowboy and I met up with John, Tim, and Tracy at Bright Angel Trailhead (Kolbie Studio) at 1730 to pinpoint the meeting place for the painfully early morning start the next day. This was the first time I had seen the canyon from this location and my jaw was almost permanently fixed in the gaping position. "I'm going to go down that?" I thought over and over in my head. It felt surreal and borderline laughable. All around me I heard tourists chatting about how big it was and how insane it was that people would go down into it. Most of them were discussing the Rim to River trip and inside I giggled that what I was about to partake in was four times the adventure.

We all went to the Marketplace cafĂ© where we met up with Stephanie and exchanged big long-time-no-see hugs. I had a two piece fried chicken meal with mashed potatoes, pasta salad, and hot tea. The chicken was really dry so I didn’t eat much of that and the pasta salad was pretty gross so that left mostly mashed potatoes and hot tea with a random cheesy breadstick. 

During this nosh-fest I finally got a chance to discuss expectations and preparation for the run as I was getting really nervous about the whole thing. I was very concerned about running out of water or food and bonking in the heat (I have never bonked before and I honestly did not want the bottom of the GC to be my initiation) and didn’t know the correct quantities of things to bring. We exchanged ideas on camelbak bladder sizes, food choices, and what we would need immediately after the run once we reached the top.

After that talk, I decided I didn’t have enough food so went binge shopping at the attached grocery store.  I literally just grabbed and stashed, grabbed and stashed. It was almost embarrassing the types (read: total junk food) and quantity of food I had in my basket. Hugs all around and I was heading back to camp to repack, organize my ipod playlists, and try to get some rest.

Repacking was frustrating. I refused to carry a bigger pack than what I had trained with so that meant I had to become strategic in my placement of items. I tried to not skimp on the emergency gear but I knew I needed to pack as much food as I could. Once I got it all packed (I actually had to have Cowboy squeeze the fabric of the pack together as I zippered it up) I threw it on my back to get a sense of weight. Holy bananas. It felt as if an overweight toddler had just climbed onto my back for a horsey ride as my trapezius muscles groaned in utter protest. You have GOT to be kidding I thought. Cowboy reminded me that as the hours passed the pack would become lighter as I ate, which put my mind at some ease. The water will always be heavy, though, I pouted back to him.

I actually fell asleep easily but woke up a few hours later in the dark with terrible jitters in my stomach, a little nauseated, very excited, and yet completely anxious. Cowboy seemed to have sensed my restlessness and rolled over to face me. We laid there in our sleeping bags talking it out. I felt that I had prepared well for this and my training, although lacked in the quantity of really long hours/miles, had been diligent and intense. I was grateful for the added weight and cross training I had done to build up my upper body. I was going to need it for this incredibly heavy pack!

Talking it out helped soothe the circling tiger in my stomach, and I was able to fall peacefully back to sleep until my alarm went off at 0230. 

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