Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Double Crossing in Double Shift

Nine of us made the journey to the land of Abu al-Qurq, more commonly known today as Albuquerque, NM.  It was madA's "birthday" and all of us packed into two cars and drove to Flagstaff for some calories and made it to Mathers Campground before midnight for a freezing temp all out darkness tent setup.

The next morning I fumbled thru my stuff and gathered what I needed to cross the Grand Canyon and back.  I carried food, water, salt, and my camera.  I plan to make a video of my journey whence time allows me to do so.  My mind recently has been occupied by the ridiculousness happening in Syria.  I figured I would try to clear my mind a bit and double cross the canyon.

photo by fenix: eying up the beast
We started at 6:45am, the early group was Fenix, Doug, Dennis, Beth, and I.  We started our journey at the South Kiabob Trail (7,200 feet) and it was cold.  I wore a cycling hat over my billed hat to keep the head toasty.  All of us were as happy as could be, its that sensation when you see something as vast and naturally beautiful as the Grand Canyon.  Some of us had crossed it in the past, and some were seeing it for the first time ever.  What an experience.

We were down to the Colorado river in less than 2 hours and met up with the rest of the yahoos around this time.  Action Jackson, Junkis, madA, and Chilli Cheetah.  These guys are always in a hurry, so I let them pass me up while I shuffled at my own pace and took in the views of the Canyon.  I passed Ribbon Falls, knowing fully well that I would regret it as I did in 2006 when I passed it up.  Had it been a little warmer, it would have been unbearable down there, and I would have convinced myself to splash around in the falls.  But alas, the cool weather made me reason to not get into the water, and I bypassed the falls all together.  It was here that I felt my stomach begin to churn.  Normally I would ignore this and keep running and let my stomach work itself out.  I knew I could think of 20 reasons for not feeling good as my strength of running and conditioning has deteriorated a bit, but I ignored my mind and focused on climbing up to 8,200 to the North Rim.  After passing Cottonwood I pushed on uphill and ran out of water a few hours up.  I wasn't expecting that, because I knew that there was no water up on the North Rim.  I began to eat snow, and put more snow in my running bottles to try and generate some hydration.  Running out of water or getting lost are likely to best way to perish out here.  So I tried to get my mind to focus and ignore the rational arguments being presented to me in my head.  I set a hard cutoff time of 1pm to summit the North Rim.

Dennis, Doug, and Beth passed me about this point, and they reached the North Rim 5 or so minutes before I did.  I was there by 1:05pm, and depleted.  Not really knowing how I would go back and re-trace my path to Phantom Ranch, and back up the longer less steep Bright Angle trail was something I wasn't going to worry about just yet.  I managed a photo up there, and descended down with Beth, Doug, and Dennis.  Fenix and the fast crew were now hours ahead.

Struggling to run even downhill at times, I tried to keep up with the group, but knew I would evenly run my own pace and get this done.  Again, I crossed Cottonwood Camp and let the group go as I hiked much of this section.

photo by beth: awesome photo!

I made it to Phantom Ranch just before 5pm, and I looked at the bright sun angling low in the horizon.  Phantom Ranch is on the North side of the Colorado River and sits at 2,460 feet.  I still had another 9.3 miles to go and 4,300 feet of climbing to get to the South Rim (6,800 feet).  I knew I would be putting in a double shift on this run, and just wanted to make it out before 10pm at this point.  5 hours to the top is a slow shuffle hiking pace.  The sun-setting made for a beautiful journey up to Indian Gardens which is where it got dark.  The rest of the hike was pitch black on very steep sharp drop off switchback trails.  I just didn't want to sleep walk off the side of one of those, so I kept pinching myself until I reunited with the team at the restaurant on the South Rim.  Total time was 15:09 mines.  Amazing adventures, amazing view, with amazing friends.

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