430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

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SpiderLegs
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430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by SpiderLegs »

The GC posted on their Facebook page yesterday that they counted over 430 people between 5 AM and 10 AM doing either R2R or R2R2R on Saturday morning last weekend.

My question for those that know the NPS better than I do and the GC in particular, do you think that eventually you will need to win a lottery or get a permit to do R2R in the future? I can't see this level of activity being sustainable and can't imagine what the next two weekends at the GC will look like. One big reason I stopped going to the canyon on the weekends.
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chumley
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by chumley »

@big_load
Forgive the random third-hand account of what a seasonal ranger said while chatting with a haz user before a presentation about condors in 2013! :lol:
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by big_load »

chumley wrote:Forgive the random third-hand account of what a seasonal ranger said while chatting with a haz user before a presentation about condors in 2013!
Condor droppings are something to behold as well, but unfortunately not enough deterrent to such crowds.
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SpiderLegs
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by SpiderLegs »

DixieFlyer wrote: Oct 13 2020 2:04 pm There already is a requirement to obtain a Grand Canyon permit (at a cost of $250) for groups, if the group is 11 people or more:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm going to doubt this is enforced. I'm on 3-4 different GC groups on Facebook and large groups are advertised all the time along with pictures of large family outings doing R2R. Think all it did was keep the former HAZ member from renting tour buses to drop off 100 people at one rim and scoop them up at the other rim.
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chumley
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by chumley »

@SpiderLegs And if a quota/permit system is ever enacted, this will be a big part of the reason why.
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DixieFlyer
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by DixieFlyer »

@SpiderLegs
Part of the problem with the "large group" limit is that hardly nobody knows about it. The notification of the limit on the park website is almost impossible to find, and to my knowledge there is no signage at either the BA or SK trailhead that alerts hikers as to the limit. Back to your original question, I wonder how many of the "430+" were in large groups? I'd guess not very many. If the goal is to reduce the number of hikers down at the bottom of the canyon during "peak" times, then I could see a quota system being implemented.
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ShatteredArm
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by ShatteredArm »

nonot wrote:You seem to think that restricting corridor access will force people to hike other trails. In my opinion, it will not. Everyone is after their R2R merit badge.
It won't force everybody to other trails, but it will force some people to other trails. You can't really paint R2R hikers with such a broad brush; surely some of those people are traveling to the canyon for the first time, and hiking into the canyon is at the top of their list of activities. They're not necessarily just going to give up because they can't get a permit to do R2R.

Plus I can assure you quite a few of those R2R hikers do R2R every year. I know plenty of people who do R2R on an annual basis, and sometimes on a multiple-times-a-year basis, but haven't ventured outside the corridor, ever.
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SpiderLegs
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by SpiderLegs »

Doing R2R has turned into a bucket list item, much like trying to get into the Boston Marathon. I'll admit it is fun to crank out a long day in the canyon and frankly R2R has turned into about the only hike that friends and family have heard about. Get blank stares when I tell them I did an all day hike out to Grandview Mesa, but tell them I did R2R and all the sudden I'm a legitimate hiker/runner. lol
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by hikerdw »

SpiderLegs wrote:Get blank stares
I prefer the blank stares.
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chumley
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by chumley »

SpiderLegs wrote:the only hike that friends and family have heard about.
The problem is that you care what they’ve heard about lol
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by big_load »

SpiderLegs wrote: Get blank stares when I tell them I did an all day hike out to Grandview Mesa
I've never tried that, but it would be fun. The return from Grandview Mesa is quite a slog, but for me it was too close to the end of a week on the trail to evaluate fairly. Because it was getting me closer to town food it didn't feel that bad.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by Jim_H »

Crowds suck, and getting below Indian Gardens used to cure that. 430+ people sounds crowded. I wonder how many were either unsuccessful or turned back. If the NPS deems a permit to be necessary for BAT and SK, then so be it. I am likely to not be affected, or will be very, very, very rarely. I'm not interested in R2R or greater. I prefer the Rim views. While I might someday go down the NK, maybe to the river, and then head back north, I am far more interested in accessing some of the monuments or areas Lee has been visiting on the North Rim, out across from Desert View and overlooking the east rim, than I ever am a R2R+. The cultural obsession with check boxing life is a sickness to which I do not subscribe.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by nonot »

ShatteredArm wrote: Oct 14 2020 7:18 am I know plenty of people who do R2R on an annual basis, and sometimes on a multiple-times-a-year basis, but haven't ventured outside the corridor, ever.
This seems to support my point, in that limiting R2Rs is not likely create much traffic elsewhere and people are only there to do R2R, not to explore the beauty of the canyon. It may create some minimal additional hikers on other trails, as you point out, but non-corridor trails are not suffering from dayhiker traffic problems and the few people deterred by the permits could easily move over.

I'd be willing to bet that limiting half dome permits didn't cause a sudden movement of dayhikers to other trails in Yosemite either.

I do agree with some of your point, in that some people are there for the first time and should stick to the corridor trails, which is why I don't think a permit would be required until you get to like 3 mile point, perhaps, or IG. Leave the sandal shufflers able to only go the first few miles without restrictions.
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Canyonram
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by Canyonram »

Over the years the Canyon has been host to a lot of different people with their own agenda as to what they expect to get out of the experience. I guess the big issue is how the various participants will tolerate each other as they go for their own goals.

I was one of the ‘Baby Boomers’ who showed up at the Canyon during the late '60s. Imagine long-haired hippies (and a cloud of happy smoke) instead of marathon runners in the photo posted of the crowd at Phantom Ranch. Without a permit process, NPS had no way to control the number of Boomers on summer break from college who gathered inside the Canyon. So many were using the swimming pool at Phantom (creek water diverted into a man-made holding pond) that the Health Department deemed it a health risk—Park Service even tried adding a chlorine unit but that had no effect. Park Service eventually filled in the pool to get rid of the Boomers who were living at Phantom to the dismay of the paying guests. The goal was to control potential health risks (lots of fecal bacteria in the water with skinny-dipping hippies using it as a community bathtub). Paying guests staying at Phantom complained about the hippies who were living at Phantom and using the facilities for free (including the restrooms meant for the mule riders). So many Boomers showed up at Indian Gardens on spring break—I believe it was 1972(?)—it turned into a mini- Woodstock in the middle of the Canyon. (If you remember the ‘70's you didn’t live the 70's). Soon after, NPS initiated the Permit process to limit numbers and to require overnighters to stay in designated campsites.

Another event occurred in the '60s when people responded to President John Kennedy’s fitness challenge to do ‘50 miles in 24 hours.’ Kennedy got that notion from reading Teddy Roosevelt and his fitness criteria for marines to be able to do that time and distance. Kennedy put together his fitness challenge criteria (baby boomers will recall doing the push-ups, rope climb, ½ mile run, etc. in gym class.) The R2R2R was a natural extension of that challenge since the mileage is right at that 50-mile goal—shuffle over to the BA ice cream stand and you have it. For a time, it was an annual thing at the Canyon for groups to show up and do the Kennedy challenge—the Boy Scouts even came up with a ‘50 mile’ merit patch (it has since been reduced to 50 miles in 5 days and not 24 hours). I think that hiking challenge naturally blended into the ultramarathon runner and the goal to do it faster than the 24 hours. It would be interesting to see how many of the ultrarunners who showed up participated in the ‘50 mile’ challenge at some time in their life—either directly or via parents/grandparents.

The BA-North Kaibab route is perfect for runners with water access, trail width, relatively easy trailhead access, support services along the route, motel rooms at the end of the run, and sufficient physical challenge but not too severe that running shoes/shorts are adequate gear. The trail was designed for mules, not hikers. It is one reason the erosion control berms are spaced the way they are—it is for a mule stride, not a human stride. It does accommodate the stride of runners better than the stride of backpackers. Watch backpackers as they struggle to find a comfortable stride going down long stretches of the BA.

The death of marathon runner Margaret Bradley in 2004 sent a warning message to those who want to challenge the Canyon with runs outside the corridor R2R. She and her partner tried a loop run down Grandview–over the Tonto–and back up the South Kaibab. Heat and the lack of water did her in. NPS has used her death-run in some of their trailside warning posters over the years. As soon as the running community figures out how to get water stations established for events along the South Rim Tonto, we will have people running the ‘Colin Fletcher Marathon.’ It may take longer to see them on Nankoweap.
(Do a simple web search on “Margaret Bradley Death at Grand Canyon” for details).

The backpacking community has their Canyon heroes—some still follow in the footsteps of Butchart, Steck, and some even Colin Fletcher. I know I was fascinated by Fletcher’s ‘The Man Who Walked Through Time’ even though in retrospect his hike has been accomplished by many hikers and was not really as dramatic as portrayed. I made it a point to not just do their hikes but to meet them in person.

Harvey Butchart was as dour and dry as a desert scorpion fart the few times I bumped into him in the Canyon. He was on a mission to get in as many miles and establish new routes. He’d only grunt as he hurried by and could qualify as a marathon runner when in a hurry. He even asked me to leave when I showed up at one of his hiking club meetings (he taught Math at NAU) because I was not enrolled in school at the time. Later, I made the mistake of approaching him with my copy of Fletcher’s ‘Man Who Walked Through Time.’ I asked HB for his autograph next to Fletcher’s. I got silence and a cold angry glare for my request–I later learned that Butchart resented Fletcher for ‘stealing his Thunder’ in regards to Fletcher’s success and fame with his book. Fletcher gave Harvey his due in his book and describes a section of trail with Harvey’s footprints appearing in the mist. Fletcher took it that Harvey had gone down this section to determine how safe the route was—I think HB did it to establish the claim that he and not Fletcher was the first over that section. Many years later, I was doing consulting work for a nursing home chain and walked into one of their facilities in Sun City (in Phoenix). Listed as one of the residents was ‘H. Butchart.’ I was anxious to see if this was one of my Canyon heroes and I stopped by his room and glanced in—I wanted to thank him for his work at the Canyon that had provided me plenty of hiking adventures—but he was out of it. Hopefully, he was route-finding and happy in his mind during his last days.

George Steck had the exact opposite personality to HB—I bumped into him and a group at Clear Creek. I was on the CCC version of the hike while Steck was mapping a loop route from Nankoweap. He loved to talk Canyon and had me over to his campsite for an evening martini—that he carried the makings for a martini and an extra glass for the company tells you a lot about his personality. I wished I got to hike with him and after his books on Loop Hikes came out I was attempting each one.

I met Fletcher at a book signing—didn’t get much time to talk one-on-one.

The running community has its own long list of heroes Grand Canyon—that history traces back just as far as the backpacking community. Here’s why I think backpackers are caught by surprise with the number of runners at the Canyon and showing up at Phantom: Once backpackers do a corridor hike or two, they extend their sight on the more difficult backcountry trails. I’m sure a good number on this forum would as soon not do a Canyon hike at all if it required using the Bright Angel. It is essentially a mule excrement through along with plenty of human waste left by the day hikers who can’t wait for the next rest house. Because the hiking community avoids the BA, we miss bumping into the runner crowd—who use the BA almost exclusively as their one and only trail. It comes as a shock then for backpackers to see a group of marathon runners at Phantom. It shouldn’t . . . they’ve been doing the distance endurance runs as long as backpackers have been humping the Canyon with backpacks and all their gear.

https://ultrarunninghistory.com/grand-c ... -to-rim-5/

I enjoy being in the Canyon, not running through the Canyon in a competition to shave seconds from someone’s best time. I always make it a point to be the last hiker out—which makes me the winner since I got to spend the most time inside the Canyon. Guess I'll never cut it as a marathon man.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by SpiderLegs »

@Canyonram - Wow, thanks for this. Love hearing personal history and different perspectives.

On one of my Facebook GC running groups one person was asking about other places to run in the Grand Canyon. The consensus was while there are tons of trails in the GC, really the only runnable trails are the ones in the main corridor. Would be pretty tough to run most of the Grandview trail for example.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by Canyonram »

@SpiderLegs

You got me thinking about some broad defintions for the different types of people showing up for their adrenaline fix at the Canyon. What do you think of this first draft characterization of runners, backpackers, and climbers?

For runners: Distance covered has to be the same for all. How fast you cover the distance is most important. “Did the R2R2R in ‘X’ amount of time. Andy Jones Wilkins, in a 2016 online article for I-Run-Far summarized this approach :“On the men’s side. Allyn Cureton held the record of 7:51 for 25 years between 1981 and 2006 before Kyle Skaggs broke it in 2006 with a 7:37. Then, a year to the day later, Dave Mackey became the first to run the Canyon in under 7 hours with a 6:59. Four years later, wonderkid Dakota Jones ran a 6:53 and two years after that up and coming (at the time) ultrarunner Rob Krar further lowered the record with a 6:21.” Note that Wilkins is fretting over a few seconds (in a place that represents billions of years of the earth’s history.) I can fart longer than 6 seconds. Yikes.
https://www.irunfar.com/2016/10/the-gra ... anyon.html

For backpackers: Accumulate points on the map. Distance covered can vary getting from point-to-point. Time taken can also vary. ‘Days on the trail’ more impressive than speed covering the trail. “Three days doing the Hermit-Tonto-BA loop.” You earn your cred with other backpackers by the accumulation of trips to your credit (and get called out if you don’t appear to have as many as someone else.) Photo documentation must include you and your hiking partners framed by landmarks that prove your location. Mandatory to include photos of your camp set-up and cooking on your new Jet Boil gizmo, plucking your blisters, and stretched out on your sleeping bag with your arms folded behind your neck while contemplating your navel and/or the horizon.

For climbers: Accumulate peaks on the map. More prestige for getting to the top of the more difficult to reach location and those with the fewest previous people topping out. Because of the difficulty getting to a given location, time and distance not as important as doing a unique climb: “Topped out Butchart Butte last week (no mention of how long it took to get there and back).” Photo documentation has to include a death-defying angle where it appears you and your climbing tackle are about to give way and send you tumbling into the abyss. Hero pose at the top mandatory.

There’s a runnning (pun) gag in the movie ‘Forest Gump’ with the Tom Hanks character having brief interaction with some of the people and events that shaped the pop culture during Gump’s lifetime. Get up to the Canyon enough times and you can have your own Gump inventory. So:

Dress like Harvey Butchart and get called a SOB by Emery Kolb: Early on, I tried to mimic HB with my clothing and gear. Spent some bucks buying shirt/pants, a Kelty external frame (a cheap one meant for a kid just like the one HB carried), a gallon canteen (with the fuzzy cover) and even went so far as to tie knots in the four-corners of a bandana to mimic his sun bonnet. I already had my hunting ‘duck’ boots from well, hunting back home, and was glad to see I was on the same wavelength as HB.

Emery Kolb—the Canyon explorer and early photographer—was still alive and sassy. He’d sit in front of Kolb Studio like a carnival barker drawing people to pay and see his film of him and his brother rafting and clowning around in the Canyon. When I went strutting by in my brand-new store-bought HB hiking outfit on the way to the BA trail head, Kolb laughed and called out, “Where the hell do you think you’re going greenhorn?” I didn’t know who he was and gave it back to him (guess what I told him to do.) He got a big laugh and told me, “Don’t go dying down there, you SOB.” Of course he was right—I was a goofy looking greenhorn. He was right on the SOB part as well though I’m not sure how he knew about my Mother. I later made amends and enjoyed hearing his Canyon tales—he gave me plenty of insight into burro behavior. (Takeaway: At least have the good sense to roll in the dirt with your new clothing/gear before arriving at the trail head.)

By all rights, the Kolb Brothers need to be considered as two of the first at both running and climbing the Canyon in addition to hiking/exploring. They’d take photos of mule train tourists from their studio window and run the film down to Indian Gardens to develop in the better quality water from the creek. They would then make the run with the developed photos back to the Rim for the returning mule train. So, Kolb had full license to call me out as a greenhorn SOB. They also did some daredevil (and crazy SOB stunts) with their camera and were the original climbers. There are photos of an eldery Emery Kolb hanging on the side of Kolb Studio to get on a new coat of paint. Yikes. A 6 second fart would send him in freefall.

The well-dressed Canyon hiker HB doing a ‘sporty’ climb. Dress like this and get the raspberries from Kolb:
https://www.summitpost.org/harvey-butch ... 9/c-583745

The Kolb Brothers film: https://archive.library.nau.edu/digital ... 1602986227

Emery Kolb stayed the longest at the Canyon and has a huge photo collection stored at the NAU Cline library archives (10,000+):
https://archive.library.nau.edu/digital ... osuppress/

Kolb Brothers photo collection at NAU. We’ll be past the Covid-19 business by the time you look at them all:
https://archive.library.nau.edu/digital ... 9853/rec/9
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by SpiderLegs »

@Canyonram - I'm somewhere else on this spectrum. Too old and too heavy to be setting any R2R records for running. Not into backpacking, my climbing days have been curtailed quite a bit (technical climbing on my asthma meds are not a great idea, I get Elvis leg now). Prefer to base camp over at the Tusayan Best Western and then do a long day of power hiking. Then nurse my sore muscles at the hotel bar when I'm done.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by ShatteredArm »

SpiderLegs wrote: The consensus was while there are tons of trails in the GC, really the only runnable trails are the ones in the main corridor. Would be pretty tough to run most of the Grandview trail for example.
Eh... I disagree with this. Really depends on what kind of "running" you want to do. If you want to run with a consistent stride the whole way up and down, then yeah, BA/SK/NK might be your only options. You absolutely can "run" the Horseshoe Mesa loop. You can "run" down Grandview and out New Hance. Same for the Boucher/Hermit loop. Same for down Hermit and out BA. Deer Creek Falls from Monument Point. All of these are "runnable", most of us will probably just be power hiking the climbs (source: I've done all of these routes as "runs").

I also know people who have run all of Tonto Trail, and two people I know of have run R2R via South Bass and North Bass. I've also seen a few people run much of the Escalante Route.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by SpiderLegs »

@ShatteredArm - Based on the group I was talking to, the main corridor would indeed be the most runnable. But I see your point as well. Once you get down the first mile or so, Grandview and the mesa could be run at a decent clip. For us Arizonans, we will run just about anything. If from other places, not so much.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by Canyonram »

big_load wrote:Condor droppings are something to behold as well, but unfortunately not enough deterrent to such crowds.
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Re: 430+ Doing R2R Last Saturday

Post by Canyonram »

@ShatteredArm
ShatteredArm wrote:I also know people who have run all of Tonto Trail, and two people I know of have run R2R via South Bass and North Bass. I've also seen a few people run much of the Escalante Route.
I'm curious how these runners cope with the need for water. Are they hiking it down first, then doing their run?

Also, are you aware of anyone doing the Margaret Bradley fatal run (down Grandview, over the Tonto, exit via South Kaibab)?
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