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31 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Rim to RimNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 23 2016
Hiking23.11 Miles 6,200 AEG
Hiking23.11 Miles   10 Hrs   9 Mns   2.67 mph
6,200 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
Partners none no partners
While my wife and one daughter joined our group for an annual R2R starting from the North Rim, my son and youngest daughter decided to make a go of an R2R2R, starting from the south rim. The original plan was that we would start from the south in the evening on Friday and arrive at the North Rim somewhere around the time the rest of the group was gearing up to head back across.

After parking at the Bright Angel lodge, it took us another 50 minutes to take the super-slow-mo shuttles out to the S.Kaibab TH. I was hoping to enjoy the sunset from Ooh Aah point, but that wasn't to be, as we reached the TH about 6:10pm, just in time to seen the sun dipping below the horizon as we dipped below the rim.

It was breezy and chilly on top, but the temps moderated to shorts-and-t-shirt hiking within the first 3 miles. We passed a couple of small groups completing their R2R2R journey, including a Native American gentleman, who told us he was completing his 95th trip to the river and back.

We arrived at Phantom Ranch around 9:30 pm, changed socks and watched a few of the overnight residents stumble out of the canteen, doing the "Grand Canyon shuffle," indicative of some under-prepared/overworked muscles.

The hike through the Box in the darkness was pleasant and peaceful. The moon did not rise until 2:00 AM, so when we extinguished our headlamps, the Milky Way was on full display above.

The ascent begins in earnest at the Manzanita resthouse (aka Pumphouse), where we were a bit surprised to see several tents dotting the grounds near the restrooms.

By the time we reached the Redwall Bridge, the biting cold of the North Rim began to take hold, leading to a love/hate relationship where the cold breeze kept my internal temperature in check one moment, and then gave me the shivers in the next.

Bundling up a bit, we were still feeling relatively strong at that point, but those last 2.8 miles or so always seem to have a way of crushing your will. By the time we topped out at 3:43 AM, the temps dipped to slightly below freezing. We evaluated our energy and options. Perhaps if the weather were tolerable enough to allow a 30-45 minute break to relax and regroup, we could have talked ourselves into descending the Ditch once again. However, the few minutes we debated ended up making the choice for us, as we quickly began to freeze up like popsicles. Perhaps knowing that we had the option of riding around in the vans with the drivers for the rest of our NK-BA group made the decision even easier.

We bailed on the return 2R and began the 2 mi. walk over to the North Rim lodge. A van that had just dropped off some other early morning hikers, caught up to us and offered to give us a lift for the last 1/2 mile. We accepted and were soon sitting in the Lodge, drinking a little herbal tea and eating some leftover pizza that the desk attendant offered us.

A little before 5 am, we knocked on the cabin door of my wife and other daughter, who were just getting up to prepare for their R2R. I rode with them and the rest of the North-to-South crew back to the NK TH, and cheered them off. When I returned to the cabin, my two kids were dead asleep on the floor next to the heater.

After a 40 min. nap, we piled in the vans and headed to the North Kaibab Lodge for a solid breakfast, before completing the 4.5 hr. trip around to the South Rim, where we hung out and waited to cheer on our crew as they trickled out of the canyon from 6.5 to 12 hours after their start.

My wife and daughter came in at just under 11 hours. We took some photos, hit the showers at Mather Campground and enjoyed dinner at Maswick Lodge before piling in the car and heading back to the Valley.

I guess the one-day R2R2R will sit on the to-do list a little longer. Regardless, any day in the Canyon is a good day in my book. We'll be back.
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