That's exactly what I did yesterday as I got to tick off another amazing loop run that I had not been on yet with the Grandview, Tonto, S. Kaibab Loop.The loop is 28.7 miles (according to the NPS) and looses about 3,800 and gains about 3,800 and travels one of the biggest segments of the Tonto with about 18 miles of trail.
As I found out running it, the Tonto section through here is pretty faint and rugged. Not steep but lots of rough bushes and rocks to weave in an out of. To top it off, there are a few sections near the S. Kaibab that are a mess of cairns that really should be cleaned up. There is one section in particular that as I climbed up and out of a canyon there were cairns at least 100 yards to the left, a bunch all around in front of me and then also cairns 100 yards to the right. Say what? Well, at least they all converge a quarter of a mile further on no matter which way you go...unless it's at night and you can't see where they converge. Now that would be tricky... Maybe, I'll go down there some time running the S. Kaibab and clean that section up. It is flat out pointless having those cairns all over the place.
Besides the Tonto being rugged and slightly tricky to follow, everything else about the day was perfect. The weather cleared as the day went on and turned out to be excellent running conditions with temps never getting higher than high 60's. I felt good the whole run (a rarity in the canyon) and even powered back out the S. Kaibab with out to much effort. Beautiful trails and views, feeling good and taking my time to really soak it in and take pictures...another great day in the canyon.
Finished up the run with a time of 6:24, a bit slower than I thought it would be but not bad considering the rough nature of the Tonto and stopping to take photos and such. Good stuff.
Here's a few shots from the run...
(Amazing views at Grandview Lookout of the storm leaving the canyon.)
(More from the rim...)
(...and more. Awesome way to start the morning and run.)
(...and even one more shot from the rim.)
(About to leave the good trail of Grandview and get rugged on the Tonto.)
(Heading through the break in the limestone to Cottonwood Camp and the Tonto.)
(NOTE: Many reports online state that it is hard to find the Tonto at Cottonwood because it is unsigned...well, not anymore. Fresh new sign to make things easy. Thanks NPS.)
(First view of the Colorado from the Tonto. Awesome.)
(Grapevine canyon. I had to run all the way to the back of this thing...)
(...and then all the way back up along it on the other side. Crazy huge side canyon! Spectacular.)
(Beautiful contrast of super dead desert and the few things that were still green. I even saw a ton of flowering cacti but for some reason never took any photos of them. I just kept running by them, marveling. They were really showing off with red, pink and yellow flowers.)
(...yep, this was pretty much my view for about 18 miles of the run. Classic Tonto.)
(Grapevine Buttress. CHOSS...but looks cool.)
(Zoroaster Temple in the distance...I got to look at this thing for quite a while.)
(Lots of bones along this section of the Tonto. I ran across skulls, antlers, lots of deer parts and one really cool and well preserved full deer skeleton.)
(Saw these antlers while navigating a particularly bad section of the Tonto with a confusing 'sea of cairns'.)
(Back on the S. Rim, at the S. Kaibab Trailhead, after an AWESOME run. One of the better ones in there that I can remember.)