I am so happy! Yesterday, I did my first run in the canyon in 2010, R2R on the S. Kaibab Trail.
The Trail Conditions:
There was a bit of ice and snow on the top mile or so but nothing to worry about. The rest of the trail was in great shape thanks to the hard work of the trail crews. Many sections on the S. Kaibab that were rough are now super smooth (we'll see how long that lasts when the mules have their way with it). For now, what a great trail! Thank you Grand Canyon Trail Crews!!!
I had a fast run (for me) moving without much effort down to Phantom Ranch and then surprised my self by running a lot more of the trip back to the rim than usual and feeling pretty darn good at that. Maybe the last few years of running are starting to pay off. I finished with a time of 3 hours even, maybe my best time ever on that trail (1 hr down and 2 hours up). This gives me a lot of motivation because I definitely think I can do it faster as I didn't really push to my limit on the way up. I have had a dream in the back of my head of doing the S. Kaibab in less than 2:30 R2R for a few years now and never really thought that I could attain it...maybe I can this year, maybe next year or maybe the one after. Reaching the time of 2:30 doesn't really matter in the end but it gives me a fun challenge while enjoying one of my most favorite trails anywhere and it helps gauge my improvement in my running. What an amazing place to run, inspiring to say the least!
Can't wait to get back in there! The canyon is starting to feel like it's my place of worship. Every time I take my first step off the rim and into the canyon I feel like I am stepping into another world. I feel very lucky to be able to enjoy the wild experience of running in this fantastic place and having it only 1:15 from my front door!
Wonder why I want to keep going down into the canyon? Watch the video below and you will understand. The season is on!
Want to watch this on youtube? Go here.
Final thought/runners behaving well in the canyon:
I generally have a great experience running in the canyon. The run yesterday was probably the first time I have had a negative interaction with someone on the trail there and with a Park Ranger no less.
Basically, he had an issue with me running down hill past him as he was hiking up hill. The general rule of hiking on trails is for the person traveling downhill to break for the person traveling up hill. This I know. Although the usual scenario in the canyon is that when I am running downhill most hikers can see me coming from quite a distance and they usually stop and make some room (well before I have a chance to get near them) on the trail for me. I then pass and we change pleasantries and encourage each other. The trail is often wide so when I do come upon up hill hikers that don't step to the side I give them lots of room by slowing down and running around them. I have never had hikers angered by this method, instead we, as usual, exchange pleasantries and encourage each other. There is usually plenty of space for all on the trails.
I had a different experience with the ranger. As I neared him, I picked out my path to jog around his right side and give him space to continue hiking up hill without interruption. I smiled at him and was going to say hi and then noticed that he had his Ipod plugged in and he was head down working hard and moving quickly up hill, not interested in hello's. As I started to pass him he made himself as wide as possible and a trail with lots of room suddenly became a trail with only enough room for him. I jumped up on the rocks on the side of the trail to pass (my original plan anyway to give him lots of room) and barely missed getting clipped by him. I took a few more steps before he pulled the earphones from his ears and proceeded to give me an ear full about how not to not be so rude and run down on people that are hiking up hill. He surprised me with being so confrontational about it and I explained that I meant no harm and always try to give plenty of room when I do meet up with up hill hikers. I tried to express that I don't want to cause harm and try to follow the rules and that I was sorry for making him feel that I was running down on him. He wasn't having any of it.
I later ran into two more rangers on the trail that day that I had a completely different experience with. Both were very nice and I ran right by them with no issues.
Then, on the way back up the trail I caught up with the original ranger again and he told me that usually when people run past him he tries to bump them off the trail!!! I told him that I would keep an eye out for him and keep my distance...hopefully I never see him again.
After reaching the rim, I got to have a lengthy conversation with a friend that does trail work there and he said that they definitely have issues with runners not being courteous in the canyon. He said that the local runners are fine but there are so many runners that come from other places that don't have any idea how busy the trails are or how to deal with the mule trains and trail crews working that they end up pissing a lot of people off that work at the park.
Runners have been known to try to run past mule trains (baddddd, because they can spook the mules and get kicked off a cliff) and yell at hikers to get out of their way and storming through them. For some reason some runners that visit the canyon have an attitude that they are more important because they run and they should have everyone move around them and give them the proper respect to do their run through the canyon.
This is not the way to be a runner in the canyon. Obviously runners want to keep moving quickly but not at the cost other user happiness and the park service having employees so mad that they want to bump us off the trails when we go by!
Runners please be respectful to other park users. Give up hill hikers lots of room, be nice when running past people and stop for mule trains.
I am being selfish in writing this because I want to keep running in the canyon! Let's all do our part to give runners in the canyon a good name.