Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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Nine years ago, in 2006, I accomplished a quad crossing of the Grand Canyon (R2R2R2R2R).  This has only been accomplished by six runners and no one has accomplished it twice.  I was interested in trying to do it again.  The total distance is about 88 miles and involves about 25,000 feet of climbing along the way.

It had been two years since I had run in the canyon.  I typically enjoy running there on Thanksgiving weekend when temperatures are cool (and some years it is pretty frigid).  But for this long run I decided to go a week earlier when it would be a bit warmer.

After staying overnight in Kanab, I headed to the North Rim.  As I drove through the meadows near the park entrance the temperature dipped to 16 degrees but at the trailhead it was a “warmer” 23 degrees.  I made my preparations, and was on that trail at 6:03 a.m., running down the very familiar trail in the dark. This was my 31st time on the North Kaibab trail (going in either direction) so I knew every section and turn very well.  There was some slick snow/ice for the first mile but nothing dangerous because that section doesn’t have cliffs to the side.  I did trip and fall three times during that first couple miles but the falls were minor.  I was frustrated that as I get older, my balance and skill seems to be decreasing, but as dawn arrived, the increased light helped. continue reading…

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Note: I write this section with some trepidation.  The number of Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) runs have exploded in the past couple years and I observe on the Internet large groups being formed to run in the Grand Canyon.  Ill-prepared and naïve R2R2R runners are experiencing serious problems in the canyon and I just hope anyone reading my adventures, and wish to do the same, will be very careful.  Some runners have had to be airlifted and others finishing have been hospitalized afterwards.  The main culprit is the heat. continue reading…

Inversion layer of clouds

In 2005 I ran across the Grand Canyon and back for the first time.   At that time, only a few runners could be found running rim-to-rim-to-rim.  Now during some weekends it is almost like a super highway of runners who experience the amazing beauty of the canyon.   It had been about 2 ½ years since I had run in the canyon and four years since I had run a traditional R2R2R using the corridor trails.  It was time to return and I had my sights on attempting a quad crossing, repeating what I had accomplished back in 2006. continue reading…

For several years, I have dreamed about doing a very long run through the Grand Canyon.  Many ultrarunners run ACROSS the Grand Canyon and back.  I have also accomplished feat that many times.  But I’ve had a dream to run the length of the Grand Canyon rather than across it. continue reading…

In 2007, I attempted to run a double crossing (R2R2R) of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the remote, primitive, Boucher Trail on the South Rim and back.  During that adventure, I reached Boucher Creek, but turned back without climbing up to the rim.  I desired to try again to conquer that very long 90-mile double crossing this year.   But the weather didn’t cooperate because of a record arctic cold front.

The forecast improved so Thanksgiving afternoon I decided to go ahead and travel to the Grand Canyon to do my run.  But, as I approached the North Rim entrance at 7:30 p.m. I went through dangerously cold pockets of air.  It got down to -18.  That is minus 18 F!!   It really freaked me out.  I envisioned finishing my 90-mile run in below-zero temperatures moving very slowly up the North Rim.  What if the car wouldn’t start because of the bitter cold?  No one would be around to help because the services at the rim were closed.   I decided to turn around at the North Rim entrance.  I wasn’t willing to take on that danger.

My route in green

My route in green

Instead, I decided to make the long drive around the canyon to the South Rim and then do a shorter but amazing run during the next day when it would be warmer.   My new plan was to do a giant loop, descending down Bright Angel Trail, heading west (down river) on the primitive Tonto Trail, go up the rough Boucher trail to Hermits Rest, and then either run 8 more miles on the rim back to my car or take the shuttle back.  This would be normally a 4-day backpack trip.  I hoped to run it in about 12 hours.

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The spectacular beauty of the Grand Canyon called me back.   With the long Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to again do an extended double crossing (R2R2R) in a non-traditional way.   I would descend down the North Kaibab, from the North Rim, but instead of going up the South Rim using the usual trails, I would run 20 miles upriver along the primitive Tonto Trail and ascend up the unmaintained Grandview Trail to the South Rim.   Then I would head back the same way.   The total distance would be about 83 miles.  I had accomplished this double crossing back in October 2007 and knew it was a very tough challenge.   If you look at the hiking guides and total up the recommended time to take for all these segments, it should be a ten-day adventure.   I hoped to accomplish it in about 28 hours.   Last time it took me 34:07 with plenty of sight-seeing along the way

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I had great fun guiding three others on a Grand Canyon double crossing (R2R2R).   I’ve completed the  full GC double-cross 11 times previously using various trailheads.  (Another time I stopped short of the other rim during a 78-mile adventure run).  For this adventure, we would start at the North Rim and cross over to the South Rim using Bright Angel Trail and then turn around and come back, about 48 miles.

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North Kaibab to Boucher Creek and back

November 23-24, 2007

I had another spectacular run in the Grand Canyon on Thanksgiving weekend.  Last year, I ran an 87-mile double-crossing to Hermit’s Rest and back from the North Rim.   This year I planned to do a similar run but with the difference being a climb up the rugged Boucher Trail to the South Rim.  I didn’t quite reach that goal, skipping the tough climb up the South Rim, but I did have an amazing adventure running on the West Tonto Trail, running all the way to Boucher Creek from the North Rim and back, over 78 miles.  I ran 40 miles on the remote West Tonto Trail.

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