|(S. Bass, Tonto, New Hance route in red)|
It will be good to have a partner for this effort as it will by far be the most committing run I have done. After we start down the S. Bass trail near the west end of Grand Canyon National Park, we will be in the canyon for about 95 miles before exiting on the New Hance Trail near the east end of Grand Canyon National Park. We will have no outside help for the whole effort. Everything will be on our backs except all our water, which we will gather at different creeks and springs along the way.
We are working on having a Spot device with us that will allow us to do some basic communication to Susan and others at the rim and let them know if we make it to the end, exit early or need a rescue. That is going to go along way to help with logistics of getting picked up at the end, keeping Susan sane while waiting for us and for our own peace of mind.
A bit more about the Tonto and our effort:
The Tonto Trail is a 90 some mile trail that traverses along the complete Tonto Platform in the Grand Canyon. The Tonto Platform is a bench that is half way between the river and the rim for most of it's length making for quite the remote and spectacular setting.
To make a clean, logical run of the Tonto, without any annoying out and back travel (the west end of the Tonto technically ends at a dead end at Elves Chasm which is a bit west of the S. Bass Trail), We are going into the canyon at the S. Bass Trail, getting on the Tonto Trail, following it to it's east terminus at New Hance Trail and then exiting the canyon on the New Hance Trail (about 95 miles including all the trails, rim to rim). No out and back to Elves Chasm...just a nice clean in, across the Tonto and out. We will technically not be doing the full Tonto Trail but, in my opinion, S. Bass, Tonto, New Hance is the classic, logical effort for a FKT and will get done way more often then adding an out and back to the start of the whole thing.
Also, I think, as Scott Jurek and Joe Grand did in their 32 hour effort (current FKT), that the time should start at the S. Bass Trailhead and end at the New Hance Trailhead as apposed to only clocking the Tonto section. It's weird to me to go half way down into the canyon and then starting the clock and then stopping the clock before getting back out of the canyon again just to clock the Tonto. It seems to make a bunch more sense to me to just start and stop the clock on the rim. Clean and simple.
My goal for the effort is to be smart and cautious. Go slow to start and try to save some for the finish. I would love to break the FKT but am also realistic about the canyon and my ability and don't want to push to hard and epic in there. If we don't have it in us to break the record then we will try to just finish and if we can't realistically finish then we will exit early on the Bright Angel, S. Kaibab or Grandview Trails. We are giving ourselves a time limit of about 35 hours or dusk on the second evening. We really don't want to travel with too much stuff and I think only one night of travel is realistic for how tired we will be at the end while trying to exit the canyon. So, we will start the effort at dawn on Saturday, March 31 and finish sometime during the day on Sunday, April 1...or at least that's the plan.
This run makes me both extremely excited and scared at the same time... well, here's to adventure. Can't wait to get in there and see how it all plays out!
Well, all I can do now is finalize a few logistics and make sure I have my pack ready to go...and then hope that we can even get to the start the thing. Come on sun, melt that snow and dry up those 30 miles of dirt road. Give us a chance!
Looking for more information about running the full Tonto Trail?
-Davey Crockett has an excellent account of his attempt last year here.
-If you follow Scott Jurek on facebook you can see some photos from his 32 hour FKT effort.