This trip started with the idea of doing something big and challenging (as do the best trips). For a milestone birthday, Jodi wanted to really push herself. Memorable and hard. What could be a better setting for such a challenge than the Grand Canyon?
Three years ago I ran (well, mostly walked) from the Bright Angel trail, down to the Colorado River, and back up the South Kaibab trail. Both trails start at the South Rim but Kaibab is higher and Bright Angel more gentle. All together, it’s 20 miles and about 5000 feet (1500 m) of elevation gain. I loved every minute of it, soaking up the scenery and moving quickly through the landscape, but I could barely walk the next day. It seems, that sounded like a great idea to Jodi.
We set off in the dark, down into the depths of the canyon. Once we reached the Tonto trail, two-thirds of the way down, I branched off, traversing along the canyon, while Jodi continued down to the infamous Colorado River.
From Tonto, it doesn’t look like it’s that far down to the river, but looks are deceiving. The Colorado has carved sheer cliffs deeply into the hard granite and schist that sat here for 2 billion years before the Colorado ripped into it. I waited expectantly at the top of a rock outcrop until Jodi reappeared, moving at a good strong pace as she climbed up and out of the inner canyon.
We met up with Sil who was waiting with water and snacks and all continued back up together. Despite struggling with some stomach upset, Jodi pulled ahead, reaching the canyon rim feeling elated. The Parks Service warns you not to attempt going all the way down to the river and back up in a single day. Doing just that is a big accomplishment.
Now Jodi wants to come back for a much bigger challenge – the rim-to-rim-to-rim!