This was the scene on the way out of Phoenix on the only freeway to Flagstaff. No, it wasn't a get out of the heat traffic. There was a three mile back up from a brush fire off the side of the road. Gave me an opportunity to take one of these pictures:
Someday, I am going to make a scrapbook of all of the pictures that I have like this of Kevin. It started out when we were engaged, so I hope I can locate that first picture.
Drive to North Rim takes you through the Native American Relocation Land or "Land of Desolation". It's the same drive that we take to Utah, so I know the pit stops well, but it felt lonely not having kids chase for lizards at the Chevron outside of Lees Ferry, or having to say "No" to kids walking down the candy aisle on the way to the bathroom.
We got there just in time for dinner and got the most amazing seat in the house.
That was our view out the window in the lodge. We had several people come stand in front of us to take a picture as the sun went down. At least no one spilled a drink.
Our room. Well. The biggest problem for Kevin was no TV. This meant no Lakers game. There are no TVs up there, so we couldn't even switch rooms or whatever. Early Saturday, we got up and ate donuts (our usual prehike breakfast) and hit the trail.
We started at 7 am, with no major events on the descent, except my left two middle toes felt numb, just like from the marathon. I was not happy, because I have been through a lot of trial and error to get the right boots for me to keep all of my toenails, and the thought of losing any did not make me happy, but I knew it was a possibility. And like last time, Kevin's legs kept us basically running the whole way down.
Kevin can't resist taking a picture by Ribbon Falls. We got to Phantom Ranch in 3 1/2 hours, which is good time (on the south side, which that trail is 6.7 miles, we make it down in two hours), I changed, we ate lunch, then I had a couple of Snickers bars (wh-a-at?) and started the long climb back up. There are a few differences with the north and south trails. #1-south side, you start heading up right away, north side, you don't start your true ascent for 7 miles from Phantom Ranch. #2-There are more people on the south rim trails. Just makes it more interesting to talk to people about what they are doing there. #3-There are more places to stop on the south side, like boulders to sit on. The biggest difference is that first seven miles of slight incline hiking. I didn't like that very much because it didn't really feel like we were doing anything more than just walking down a trail. We stopped and had another snack at Cottonwood Campground, and I was ready to hit the steep part (finally) and Kevin told me to go on up ahead.
I do not like to separate, but we had bought walkie talkies for the trip and had assured that they were working and plus had met several people on the trail who knew where we were headed. So up and out I went. This is when it gets steeper than the south trails, and super bonus here, shaded almost the entire rest of the way. I dare say I got chilly towards the top. I had to put my running sleeves back on.
I got out in 11 hours and Kevin was a bit behind me, but I must say, I felt that I had not been sufficiently challenged, and as I waited for Kevin to get out, I decided that if I did not have any blisters on my feet or potential toenails lost, that I was going to hike to the south rim the next day. I knew Kevin wouldn't be up for it so I would have to go alone, but I felt like I could do it. Once we got back to the room and had a chance to inspect the damage, the biggest surprise by far, was that THERE WERE NO TOENAILS INJURED ON THE HIKE!!!! And, even better, no blisters to explode in your friend's car as you start you four hour drive back to Phoenix (sorry about that one, Myrissa). I couldn't believe it! Finally, after five hikes I had come up with the right pair of boots, the right lacing technique, and the right socks. Glorious. Unfortunately, I had a different problem. Chafing. On my back from my Camelbak on each of my iliac crests. This was what prevented me from hiking rim to rim because it was bad enough that I knew I didn't want to put a pack on that for a day. Sadly, Kevin did get a large blister and will loose three toenails. He had boots that he hadn't worn hiking before.
Now, on to my next phase in my goal. Rim to Rim to Rim. There are a lot of runners out there that do this hike, and I feel like I am ready to do it. Now, my usual hiking partner has asked that I look for someone a little more in shape than he is (running your own business does not give him enough time to train properly), so I will be searching for a partner to make this trek, because I am doing it on October 23. If you are interested, please submit your application. Must be willing to endure a little bit of competitiveness and fast hiking. All right, Emily. I will keep the competitiveness to a minimum.