Rim to Rim to Rim 2016

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 27, 2016
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim 2016

S Kaibab Sunrise
On South Kaibab Trail - Sunrise at Cedar Ridge 

My third Rim to Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon in three consecutive years. Since this has become a repeat occurrence, I will only document the event, posting the statistics and making a few general considerations. For details on running/hiking a RRR, please read the Rim to Rim to Rim main page or my other two Trip Reports from 2014 and 2015. After doing this a few times, there is only so much I can say about it. This year's route was South Kaibab TH to North Kaibab TH and back to South Kaibab TH - 42 miles. The main challenge of the 2016 RRR route was coming up on South Kaibab trail. The South Kaibab trail is not only very abrupt, but also it has no water for the 7.3 miles from Phantom Ranch (the last source of water) to the top.

Every single time I did a RRR I had to change the route so I don't have to do the same trek again. Changing the route also changes the logistics a little. That keeps it interesting, more focused and paying more attention to details. This year's RRR was, so far, the easiest in terms of what the location offered: all water stations were opened that day (although the Supai Tunnel was labeled as OFF, the water was on), the temperature never went over 85 F (last year it was 119 F at 1 PM at Cotonwood Campground) and the sky was cloudy almost the entire day. The Sun only hit me a little in the morning from about 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM, going up from Roaring Springs to Supai Tunnel and again from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, going up from the Colorado River to Tonto Plateau on South Kaibab trail. 

Because the South Kaibab trail has no water, on my way down I stashed away two bottles of 16 oz so I could use them coming up. It was a little difficult to run with three bottles in my hands, but I managed OK. One bottle I hid 1.7 miles from TH, a little further down from Cedar Ridge and the other at Tonto Plateau (4.2 miles from TH.) The third bottle, that is a 28 oz running water bottle, I ran with it in my hand the entire time and refilled it whenever possible. This time around I did not have to use creek water.

Because it was pitch dark on my way down, it was a little tricky to find distinctive places to hid the bottles that I would remember when coming up. But I did locate two places easy to remember.  Also, my water strategy worked perfectly; I did not run out of water at any time and the water was enough for me to finish without worry. 

My 2016 Rim to Rim to Rim Statistics

Tonto Plateau
Tonto Plateau
Day: September 27th 2015
Route: South Kaibab trailhead to North Kaibab trailhead and back
Start Time: 4:15 AM
End Time: 6:35 PM
Total Distance: 42 miles
Actual Duration: 12 hours and 26 minutes 
Duration car to car: 14 hours and 20 minutes
Avg. speed: 3.1 mph
Max. speed: 5.5 mph
Estimated calories burned: 4,200 (it is estimated that people burn on average 100 calories a mile, regardless of walking or running.)
Lowest temperature: 43°
Highest temperature: 85°

Hiking times
Total hiking time South to North including all of the breaks – 6 hours and 20 minutes
Total hiking time North to South including all of the breaks – 7 hours and 35 minutes
- South to North
South Kaibab TH to Phantom Ranch – 1 hours and 50 minutes
Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood Campground – 1 hour and 35 minutes
Cottonwood Campground to Pumphouse Residence – 25 minutes
Pumphouse Residence to Supai Tunel – 1 hour and 35 minutes
Supai Tunel to North Kaibab - 1 hour and 10 minutes
- North to South 
S Kaibab and O'Neills Butte
South Kaibab and O'Neills Butte
North Kaibab to Phantom Ranch – 3 hours and 20 minutes
Phantom Ranch to Cedar Ridge – 3 hours
Cedar Ridge to South Kaibab TH – 30 minutes

- Going from South to North
Phantom Ranch – 20 min
Cottonwood Campground – 15 min
Supai Tunnel  - 10 min
North Kaibab TH – 25 min
- Going from North to South
Coconiono Overlook – 5 min
Pumphouse Residence - 10- min
Cottonwood Campground – 10 min
Phantom Ranch – 25 min
Tonto Plateau – 10 min
Cedar Ridge - 15 min 

General Considerations

North Kaibab Trail
North Kaibab Trail

At this point my focus is not only on successfully and safely completing a RRR, but also being very efficient with everything that I do. That includes not carrying too much water, too much food or too much clothing. My dream would be to finish a RRR with one gel and 8 oz of water. Also not to carry unnecessary items. This year I finished with 6 gels, 2 energy bars, 2 bags of single servings energy powder and 8 oz of water. Not too much in terms of weight, for sure, but unnecessary items. Some of them I stashed away at the bottom and I only picked them up on my way back, but some I carried across the canyon just to have them. I also, against my better judgement, took with me a very light and small-to-pack wind breaker. The weight of it was nothing, but the little space that it took occupied one pocket of the running belt I had (I am yet to use a water bladder when running.) I also only used the wind breaker when running down, for the first 1.5 hours. It wasn't cold at 4:15 AM, about 41-43 F, and wearing it caused me to sweat too much unnecessarily (I hid the wind breaker at the river with other items and picked everything up on my way back.) Other items that I had with me was my cellphone that I used as a GPS tracker, to record the distance, speed and time (not as good as a GPS watch, but it did an acceptable job), a flashlight (that I hid at the river when I got there since there was already enough light to continue without it), two small (7 oz) cans of coffee (one I hid at the river and drank it when I got back, before my final ascent, and the other one I took it with me and drank it at the North Rim before going down.) I also stashed away at the river some gels, energy bars and an energy powder pack. 

All in all I would say that this was a successful RRR for me. Although the distance is the shortest a RRR could be (42 miles), I can tell that I improved on my speed and overall time. My breaks were shorter and except of a cramp on the back of my right knee that lasted for a few minutes when I started again from the North Rim, nothing really troubled me. However, I have to admit that when I got back to Phantom Ranch and stopped for water and restroom (35 miles into my run), I felt tired and the last 7 miles going up on South Kaibab I hiked at a speed of 2.5 mph, not even fantasizing about running. 

I finished at 6:35 PM, while three was still light out. Ten minutes later it was dark. Since there was not much cell coverage at South Kaibab TH, I had to walk for another 2 miles and wait for a little over an hour for my ride to come and pick me up.

I hope for a 2017 RRR. If that happens (I really hope my wife won't throw a fit over it), my plan is to start at Bright Angel TH, go to the North Rim and come back up South Kaibab - 45 miles. For that trek I definitely need a water bladder since doing the RRR in that manner I cannot stash away water on South Kaibab.

Keep it moving!

Elk at Grand Canyon
Elk at Grand Canyon


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