When choosing which trail to run, I focused on doing something new (as I usually try to do...) and get on a trail I haven't been on before that goes rim to river. Since the S. Bass and Tanner are the only ones that I hadn't been to the river on (from the S. Rim anyway...) and I didn't have time to 4x4 out the lengthy dirt roads to the remote S. Bass Trail, Tanner Trail became the obvious choice.
S. Bass would have to wait for another adventure...maybe I'll tick that one off during a Tonto Loop with the Boucher Trail or all the way to the end of the Tonto, finishing on New Hance (S. Bass and New Hance are the traditional start and end points for the full Tonto traverse).
The Tanner Trail had been recommended to me many times by running friends as a great 'off the beaten path' run in the Grand Canyon as it is lesser known than the typical tourist trails (S. Kaibab, Bright Angel, etc.) and is much more rugged (unmaintained by the park service). Although, despite some super steep and scrambly sections, the trail is known to be mostly runnable with some really great, smooth sections and the more wide open views and geology of the east Grand Canyon give the runner very different views and general feeling than the rest of the canyon.
Sounded like a great run to me!
So, I made this run the typical, get up super early, start running at first light, get down to the river and back up to the rim in good time and then book it back to Flagstaff to work in the afternoon or evening. This schedule has offered me the only way to squeeze out so many of my runs in at the Grand Canyon. I don't have the luxury of going when ever I want, hang out at the rim afterwards to soak it all in and down brews with my buds...I gotta work!
That being said, I made it to the trailhead a bit before light (about 6 am) and parked among the other 10 or so cars that were waiting to get their photos of the sunrise. I took the time I had, before there was enough light to run, to stay bundled in the car to stay warm (it was below freezing still outside...) and get my stuff together. As the sun started to give light to the canyon and the tourists started emerging from their cars to set up their tripods I stripped down to shorts, gloves and a couple long sleeves, put on my Nathan pack and walked the 100 yards of pavement to the trailhead. It was time to run.
I love this part of each and every Grand Canyon run...when my first few steps hit the earth of the trail and I start running down, down, into the canyon. It feels like coming back home every time...home to wonder, excitement, fear, pleasure, pain, adventure, self-reliance and all the other primitive sensations that give me my intense connection to this amazing canyon. This home, the Grand Canyon, gives me every one of these sensations with every run below the rim. Every run.
|(View of first light in the canyon from the parking lot)|
|(Tanner Trail Head)|
|(View I will never get sick of... First light hitting the walls of the canyon.)|
|(Getting closer to Tanner Canyon Saddle and easier ground)|
|(The first boulder I ever climbed on along the Tanner trail way back when....ahhh the memories. There is an amazing V7ish sit down problem on the front right side of this boulder that we did.)|
|(Another amazing Joe's Valleyish boulder along the trail that we did problems on back in the day.)|
|(Again, another great boulder along the trail.)|
|(First light on the trail)|
|(View back up to the rim, looking east toward the Desert View Watch Tower. Look closely and you can see it on top of the rim.)|
|(Dropping through the Tapeats)|
|(Great running through a beautiful red sandstone layer all the way to the river)|
|(Looking down stream from Tanner Rapids)|
|(First light about to hit Tanner Rapids)|
|(Spot where Tanner Creek dumps into the Colorado River during spring run off)|
|(Working hard going back up through the Tapeats and Red Limestone layers)|
|(Looking up at the final climb to the car after the wonderfully flat running above the Red Limestone layer)|
What great experiences and memories I accumulate down in the Grand Canyon... As I scanned the canyon from the rim, I reminded myself to try and never take for granted the fact that I get to explore this unbelievably wonderful place.
I am a very lucky person.