Recently I had the (mis?)fortune of getting to do a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. For those who are not completely insane, let me explain. It involves starting on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking across and going “Hey, I’d like to be over there!” So you go down through the bottom of the canyon, come out the North Rim, look around, and go “I’d like to be back in the other place where I started from.” You can rest, if you can call it rest, then repeat everything in the opposite direction. You can optionally go North to South and back, but the North rim is sort of… look, there is nothing of real notable interest there. I mean, there is a lodge, but it is only open part of the year and I can’t tell you the food is great, so South to North it is. I mean, the views at the North rim lodge are great, but after spending hours crossing the damn thing, the last thing I wanted to do was look at the canyon some more. At that point the canyon can go back to hell, from whence it came.
It is 21-24 miles each way depending on the trails you take, and 4000+ feet down and then back up twice. It is, quite simply, a completely asinine thing to do to yourself. I did this for fun, because at some point I lost my goddamn mind and this is just what I do now. It is too late for me. Save yourself.
It also tends to be hot. Bright Angel, which I take on the way back because it has more water stops than Kaibab, has nothing for shade. There is some at Indian Garden, but everything before and after that takes places in a blighted hellscape of rocks and switchbacks and sun. So much sun. Sun until you wish for an endless, interminable night to fall. Bring on the vampires. You know who was a Bright Angel? Lucifer, the Morningstar. I can’t say the the trail is misnamed.
I managed to cross South to North in 7 hours 37 minutes. North to South took 8 hours 28 minutes. North to South is easier, as far more of it is downhill and you lose 1000 ft of climbing, but it is also 3 miles longer and I cached my legs on the first crossing, so running the middle was done at a lower speed than desired.
All told, it was interesting adventure. I got stopped by mule trains, lectured by rangers, and yelled at by angry hikers because they were angry. I got nausea from my electrolyte drink at the bottom of the canyon that never really went away. I could barely walk the next day. I currently have an eczema flare up on my inner joints. I have cuts and bruises I can’t explain. It was dirty. It was grueling. I had a hard time breathing on the North rim climb. I ruined my trail shoes and will have to shell out another $120 for a new pair. My brand new hydration pack is crusted with salt and dried nutrition gels. My running gear smells like it was worn by one of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings.
I am currently considering doing it again next year. Because, as I said, I have apparently lost my damn mind. However, I am still not an ultra runner. I refuse that designation. Those guys are crazy.