The North Kaibab Trail
We all felt a sigh of relief seeing the sign “North Kaibab Trail.” We now knew we were on the right track again. Remember none of us had been here before. We were all rookies! Next stop; the famous “PumpHouse!” At least it was famous to me. After reading how important a stop it was. By now we were a good 30-45 minutes behind our original schedule. But with all the stops and confusion, we didn’t really care as it was just part of our story. About 15 minutes out of Phantom Ranch we could put our lights away. This was good as it was a bit irritating carrying my flashlight. We were now able to make better time, with less elevation change as Nichole led us with a nice pace. Around Cottonwood Campground we had stopped to grab some food and Nichole asked a guy if he had seen a green FitBit on the trail. I thought that was kind of strange. Because I didn’t recognize them. She told me that we had passed them a couple times. Good thing she was more aware then me. He said his partner found it. How crazy was that! Because it was in the dark! So we were two for two, counting Felix’s sunglasses! Nichole was very happy! Felix took led us the last couple miles to the PumpHouse. We got there at about 830am. 18 miles in and feeling pretty good. Mentally I knew the next 5.5 miles were the steepest and second toughest, next to the last climb up the south rim, because of fatigue. I didn’t make a big deal about it. Hoping everyone was aware and ready! Although as I said I was feeling good, Felix said later he knew at the time that something was off. We did take a little extra time, which I was OK with, because again knowing of the challenge of the next 5.5 miles to the top of the North Rim.
The North Rim
With the morning sun moving over the magnificent Grand Canyon cliffs, I now had to wear my sunglasses and had removed my black beanie and put on my visor. Still kept my long sleeves on, although the sun was out, I felt very comfortable. Remember I’m from Phoenix; I was now in heaven with the temperature! I felt strong and wanted to get after this challenge, but quickly remembered the goal today was not about time, it was about having a big smile at the end. Somewhere around 20 miles with Nichole once again doing a great job of leading us, I had noticed that Felix was having to struggle a bit up a pretty area, he told me that he felt his knee, but was ok. I now, for the first time, had a feeling that he wasn’t right but left it up to him to know how to push. I knew he could deal with pain. I pulled ahead at about 21 miles as I wanted to find a spot to figure out why I couldn’t suck enough water out of my back pack. I got just past the Supai Tunnel where I found a shaded spot and unpacked everything! I found the problem with the hose. This was the only time that I really noticed a problem, with a slight cramp in my hamstring. My belief was that I just wasn’t drinking enough water up a pretty steep climb. Oh well lesson learned. I waited a few minutes, but then I figured I would get to the top of the North Rim and take some time to rest and stretch as I waited for my team. As I was nearing the top I began seeing some of the R3 group that we had met the evening before. They had gone down South Kaibab. Although about an hour behind schedule I felt pretty good about the effort so far. I was halfway home and feeling good. I rested, filled up with great cold water. Finally put my short sleeves on. The North Rim was awesome! Talked and listened to some of the more experienced runners. Trying to pick up an hints, clues for finishing. Excited about the second half!
After a few minutes I became a little more concerned about the health of my team. Because I wasn’t with them I didn’t know. I almost started down to see if someone needed help. But just then they both made it and with big smiles! I was very relieved. Thinking once again that everything was ok. I didn’t mind everyone taking their time, as I did. I wanted everyone to be physically and mentally ready for the big downhill and eventually the climb out.
The Second Half
After Nichole and Felix rested, and took some pictures, we were off. Down the hill to PumpHouse. After I got to the Supai Tunnel I decided to take off, to let myself stretch out and run. This felt good! Also we were blessed with some needed cloud cover, which would I believe be a Godsend for us. I got to the PumpHouse and had time to change my socks and catch up on my eating. Actually ate too much candy! But that was ok. Just happy I had a good appetite, which I knew was a good sign! Once again I had plenty of time , as I waited about 30 minutes. This time I figured they had stopped to take some pictures and enjoy the journey. As it was there Anniversary! I felt that everything was ok with them. Next up; Our Journey takes a crazy turn for the worst! Stay tuned!