Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Great Unconformity

The Grand Canyon (Source: Wikipedia) 
"You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it you have to toil from month to month through its labyrinths."  Of course John Wesley Powell wrote this in the late 1800's, presumably during the first American expedition through the Canyon.  If he could only see us now....we will experience the spectacle, as Powerll suggests, but by toiling from hour to hour.

What planted this seed?  As I've started to realize how (relatively popular) running the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim and back (R2R2R) in a day is, I wondered what motivated me to book a plane ticket this summer and commit taking this on?

For starters, I have ALWAYS wanted to take a week to raft the Colorado River through the Canyon.  I still plan to with my family.  This has been driven by a few things.   I visited the Grand Canyon on a family trip when I was around 12 years old and I'll never forget peering over the canyon rim on the south side....the wind was strong and I felt like we would get blown in at any moment.  I've also been fascinated since reading accounts of expeditions through the Canyon in books like The Monkey Wrench Gang and John Wesley Powell's The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons.  Both highly recommended reads!

Second, I started a bucket list this year.  I mean, everyone has a bucket list in their heads, right?  But it becomes very real when you put it all on paper.  Then you realize you are not getting any younger.....and all of the items have been sitting in your bucket for a while.  So when you ACTUALLY have them written down, then you realize you need to ACTUALLY start experiencing them and  checking them off. 

Third, Andrew Skurka puts it best in his blog-
What happens at "The Great Unconformity"??
"While perhaps a touch extreme, running Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (RRR) is not uncommon: within trail running circles, it's regarded as a classic, a must-do....there are few trips, mile-for-mile, hour-for-hour, that compare. Think about it: in one day, you pass through 1.6 billion years of geology (four times) and you span the grandest Big Ditch in the world (twice). This is a fantastic undertaking for hikers who: have limited vacation time; have limited free-time during a family vacation to the Canyon; do not want to take a complete overnight backpacking kit on an otherwise casual vacation; seek high bang-for-the-buck backcountry routes; want to test themselves with long days and exorbitant vertical change; and/or who cannot obtain the necessary permits to go RRR the traditional way: a slow-and-heavy 4- or 5-day affair."

And so it is.  Friday, a group of six of us will fly out to Pheonix and drive to the Canyon.  Saturday, we will run from the South rim to the North rim and back to the South rim.  45 miles, 10,500 ft of elevation gain and an equal amount of descent.  Sunday, we'll fly back.  I can't wait. 

1 comment:

  1. Good luck Jason! My bucket list pertaining to the Grand Canyon only includes knowing someone who's run R2R2R.