April 15, 2017 - Rick Russell Report on Grand Canyon R2R2R Run!

I successfully completed my first R2R2R trip on Saturday (4/15)! I’m grateful to this group for providing so much information before the trip. Here’s my attempt to return the favor, at least a bit, with a trip report and trail conditions.

Route and timing: I went BA/NK/BA for convenience, starting and finishing at the Village hotels. I went with my brother-in-law, and our families joined us for the trip down BA to the river. Then they turned around and laughed at us for not doing so, and told us how they were going to go get ice cream when they got back to the south rim. We started at 9:15 am to hike down with them and still hit the Redwall trail closure at 4:30 pm. It wound up being 5:15 or so when we got to Redwall, and we heard from hikers coming the other way that the trail actually opened at 2 pm. We thought we heard a helicopter about that time, so those pieces of information could fit together.

We reached the North Rim about 6:30ish, where it was quite chilly and still a lot of snow, although snow on the trail is now limited to a few very short stretches. The return to the South Rim, all by headlamp after the Supai tunnel, was mostly uneventful. But I have to say, the trip up Bright Angel has never seemed so long and relentless, and I was more than ready to go to bed when I finally reached the rim at 3:30 am.

Water: On at the 3-mile resthouse, Indian Garden, Phantom Ranch, Cottonwood, Manzanita. Off at the 1.5 mile resthouse, Supai tunnel, and North Rim. When I asked at the backcountry information center on 4/14, I was told that it was off at Cottonwood and Manzanita due to a pipeline break. I guess it was fixed between 4/14 and 4/15.

Trail work: Between the Redwall Bridge and Supai tunnel, it’s easy to see where the slide occurred. A lot of trail work has been done to clear rocks and rebuild the trail, but there was still one stretch that required concentration. It’s about a 10-15 foot segment where you’re on scree from the slide, and there is the potential to start a new slide and to be part of it. But with focus and care, it was easily crossable.

Spring in the canyon: I was told by a ranger that this is the best spring in 20 years for vegetation including flowers, and I have no trouble believing it. It was by far the greenest I’ve ever seen it.

R2R2R’er community: When we reached the North Rim, I quickly got cold and put on a jacket, hat, and gloves. Then, going back down, I almost immediately got too hot and started taking the warm clothes off. The last one was my hat, which I took off at Manzanita, put down a bench next to me, and then forgot about. I was about a quarter mile down the trail when I realized I’d left it, but I was definitely not going back up to get it. Bummer. Then, 2-3 hours later at Phantom Ranch, we were sitting at a picnic table by the water spigot when four R2R2Rers pulled in and asked, “Hey, did one of you leave a hat back up the trail?” Such a great community and a great experience.