The Trail Provides: Rim2Rim2Rim
The trail provides:
When I step below the rim there is an instantaneous understanding that all the problems of the world haven’t followed. And for 51perfect miles I am able to find a sense of balance. It’s like the canyon has a way to reset my soul and center it around what is most important.
I can take a step back and get lost in world where my most basic need is to put one foot in front of the other. I can step on trail and my body knows exactly what to do so my mind is free to wander and get lost in thought and dream, what I would consider, my purest dreams.
This place that is innately dangerous feels like the safest place in the world. I have a list a mile long of new trails that I want to pursue that I have never set foot on. But there are days where I need the familiarity of the canyon and trails that I am starting to know like the back of my hand.
It is a privilege that I can flock below the rim on a moments notice. To have the means and time and ability to pursue treks down to the Colorado is something I am grateful for and never want to take for granted.
The intent was never to do a Rim2Rim2Rim. It was to do about 75% of one. So I hopped on the hiker express and made my way to the S Kaibab Trail. I have been down this trail enough to know that it will take about 2.25 hours to make it to the water at Phantom Ranch. And those miles are easy and fly by. I am not exactly running but there is a swiftness to my step. The trail is well maintained but if I don't pay attention I will trip like I have so many times before.
Once I get to the bridge and the water, I am feeling great and ready to make it to Cottonwood Camp (my turn around point). But once I get to Cottonwood I am feeling great and know I have a few more miles in me. The trail from Phantom to Cottonwood to Manzanita is gradual and it makes the miles easy. When I get to Manzanita I know that it's only 5.4 miles to the rim.
Leaving Manzanita, I know I should be going South, but my heart and my feet head north. It's a grueling 5 miles up, but at this point I am too close to turn around now. I pass Roaring Springs, cross the Redwall Bridge, and then pass through the Supai Tunnel. Each time calculating in my head how many miles I have left.
I make it to the rim and fill my bladder with snow. I have to make it to Manzanita before I can fill water, unless someone has fixed the faucet. It should be turned off but a leak makes it spew water, enough to drink and fill up. I get to Cottonwood as the sun is starting to set and its dark a few miles before Phantom. Once I get the Phantom, I know exactly what is coming at me. I know I have the ledge between the bridge and pipe creek, I have an emergency shelter I could bail at for the night, and then Indian Gardens, 3 mile and 1.5 mile rest houses before I am out.
I bail in the bathroom at Phantom to wait out a small wind storm and take a nap. And then head out in the dark to cross the river and head out. I am not a fan of the suspension bridges at night but it the only way out of the ditch. The climb out is grueling and slow and I contemplate cowboy camping for a few hours outside of Indian Gardens. But I also want to make it out in less than 24 hours. So I pack up and keep pressing on. The last 3 miles I am working at a 1mph pace. But thats okay because I know I am going to make it. The slow place engrains the trail in my brain and I don't know it now, but my next trip I will know exactly how many switchbacks are in a set between rest houses.
I emerge from the Canyon around 3am. The moon is as full as my heart. I smile and I cry and I find my car and pass out for the next few hours before saying goodbye for the next month.