Next weekend Mike and I are going to be hiking Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon in ONE day! Why are we doing this? Oh you know, to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. Totally normal.
Logistics of our Grand Canyon Rim to Rim One Day Hike
Photo credit (and additional resources): https://www.spintheglobeproject.com/hiking-the-grand-canyon-from-rim-to-rim/
One of the perks of doing Rim2Rim in one day is that you do not need a permit or a very hard to get reservation at Phantom Ranch, the lodge at the bottom of the canyon.
Based on a lot of research and the super helpful Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Facebook group, we decided the best route for Rim2Rim is to do it from the North Rim to the South Rim.
The vast majority of people visit the South Rim, which is open year round and has a lot more lodging and dining facilities. The North Rim is at a higher elevation (8,000 ft) and is closed for more than half of the year due to snow. There is one camp ground and only 2 hotels close to the North Rim.
Our plan is to take a shuttle (4.5 hour trip) from the North Rim on Sunday and then stay the night at the North Grand Canyon lodge (note: make sure you make a reservation 9-12 months ahead). The lodge is bare bones from what we have read but it does have a restaurant and we have a dinner reservation! In the morning, we’ll wake up early and hike down the North Kaibob trail, down to Phantom Ranch, and then back up the Bright Angel Trail. In total, it will be 24 miles or 26 miles (if we end up walking from the lodge to the trail head, it adds on 2 more miles).
How a Marathon Runner Trained for Grand Canyon Rim2Rim
Hiking Rim2 Rim in one day is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not recommended as it is a very strenuous, long hike with tough conditions (heat and lots of climbing). 24 miles is a long way to go, regardless of whether you run or hike it, and adding on 5,761 feet of downhill hiking and 4,380 feet of uphill hiking with temperatures likely over 100 in teh canyon makes it tough.
My husband mike and are both marathoners and Ironman triathletes – and also parents to 3 small children. Despite our fitness level, I wasn’t going to take any chances with training.
My preparation for our Rim 2 Rim hike of the Grand Canyon has 2 parts:
- Physical Training
- Logistics Planning & Fueling
Physical Training for 1 Day Rim2Rim Hike as a Marathoner
I am an avid runner and have run 10 marathons. I qualified for the Boston Marathon last November. Since then, I have trained consistently running 30-40 miles/week and ran a half marathon in May. I strength train anywhere from 2-5 times a week (averaging 3x/week consistently).
Here’s how I’ve set up my training for our Rim2Rim Hike in September:
Back in June, I started to increase my mileage (goal being 40 miles per week) & started running more trails. Instead of my usual Monday tempo run, I’ve did an 8 mile run with rolling hills.
In July, while in Europe, I starting adding more stairs into my training and Mike and I did a few longer hikes (up to 10 miles) with as much elevation as we could find. We spent a lot of time walking and being on our feet too, averaging over 15,000 steps per day and 50 floors every single day, with some days up to 30,000 steps. I intentionally looked for ways to add elevation to my runs – running up and down the many stairs and super steep paths in Luxembourg.
In August after we returned to the US, I added in 2 hikes with a weighted vest (two 5 lb weights inside, totaling 10 pounds) per week. Mike and I usually do these mid day in the summer heat. My weekly mileage including runs and hikes peaked at 45 in August (with my longest run being 14 miles) which is a little higher my usual half marathon peak mileage.
And of course, I’m strength training (2-3x week)!
Last week, I peaked at 50 miles total of hiking and running. We did one final big hike at Black Mountain in Ramona (we live in San Diego county), hiking 18 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing. We carried all the gear we expect to carry with us and a lot of water. (The weather only got to 80 degrees and was gloomy so not the best representation of what it’ll be like down in the rim at the peak heat of the day).
The hike was really confidence boosting as we both felt really strong for the entire thing. Every time we felt a little tired, we just made sure we ate more calories and that seemed to help! I finished feeling like I could definitely hike farther.
Planning & Fueling for 1 Day Rim2Rim Hike as a Marathoner
Half the fun for me has been researching and reading all the posts in the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim Facebook group!
Here’s the gear I’m using for Rim2Rim Hike in one day:
- Trail Running shoes. I do not own hiking boots and have read that trial running shoes are just fine. I love Brooks Running shoes so I chose their trail runner the Brooks Catamount.
- Most people recommend hiking poles for hiking the Grand Canyon. I bought some and have been using them, but I don’t LOVE them. Mike won’t be using them. I am 99% sure at this point I will bring mine so we have at least one set. They do strap to my hydration pack if I choose not to use them.
- Cooling towels will help with the heat at the bottom of the canyon. I bought these cooling towels for the Grand Canyon.
- I chose to use a hydration vest instead of a backpack. Part of the reason I went with the vest is that I am going to be training for my first 50K in January and will be able to use it again. I also wanted something that allowed me to put regular water in a bladder and also have separate smaller bladders for electrolytes. I splurged on this one, getting the Saloman Active Skin 12. I tried it on at REI and it was SO soft and I love the storage capacity and all the pockets in the front for food and goodies.
- Other things to pack: Chafing cream/body glide, bandaids, a second pair of socks (I did Balega with some ankle coverage to keep sand out), a SPF long sleeve shirt (honestly not sure I’ll wear it since it’ll be hot but I really should cover my arms), sunscreen
Food and Fuel for Rim2Rim Grand Canyon Day Hike
Besides physical training, fueling and hydration are going to be equally important in a successful and strong Rim2Rim crossing. Here’s what I’ve learned and how I’ll prepare. to fuel for this epic adventure!
- It’s recommend that each person carries 3L of water at all times. There are water refill stations and bathrooms along the route. The water (according to my friend Megan who is particular about her water) is apparently super delicious and COLD! (yay!)
- Electrolytes are ESSENTIAL. I typically use Huma+ gels for running which have electrolytes and Beachbody Hydrate for pre and post workout electrolyte replenishment. However, I can’t rely on just gels for this route so I chose to try TailWind, which has a combination of both calories (100 per scoop) AND electrolytes. I will also carry Huma+ to use when I don’t feel like eating real food.
- Caffeine: I’ll be putting 1 packet of BODi Energize into each of my tailwind electrolyte bottles . Energize has 100 mg of caffeine, a good taste and doesn’t create a crash. We used it on our 18 mile hike and it was perfect when you need a pick me up! I plan to carry at least 3 packets (I’m not sure if we’ll get coffee that morning, and I usually have 2 cups)
- As for food, I’ll be ready for a full day out there and will carry: peanut butter banana and nutella sandwich, trail mix with extra salt added (1 cup = 760 calories, good!), goldfish crackers (salty), sour patch kids and gummy bears, and I’m thinking (need to decide on this) a tuna and cracker pouch or possibly a hard cheese and salami for something more filling.
Well, I think we’re ready!!! Here goes nothing! Check back to see how it goes !