Being back on my sleeping pad, with a constant breeze around me, and the night sounds about, really messed up my sleep pattern. But I woke up relatively fresh at 5:30am and my feet were feeling surprisingly good.
Breakfast was oatmeal with dehydrated peaches and mango, which was alright, until I added powdered peanut butter…..and then breakfast was sublime…yum.
I headed out around 6:30 and the first 1.4 miles to the water faucet went by very quickly. It was still pretty cold, but hiking warms you up quick. After a short stop to fill up with 3 liters of water the climbing began…..and didn’t stop until I reached the North Rim at 12:15pm.
The trail was absolutely beautiful, exposed at times, and very winding. But it was so much fun, even though some passages were pretty steep. Of course I came to a point where I thought that the trail would never end, but I kept going…
I met my tent neighbors at the last rest stop at Supai Tunnel, where we got talking to an Arizona Trail Thru-Hiker. I headed out a bit before the others and I managed to keep ahead of them on the last 1.7 miles and around 1400ft to the top.
I took a long break at the top, chatting to HikingSolo, Biscuit, and then Steve and Megan (who I had met the day before), enjoying the sunshine, and the feeling of accomplishment.
We had all managed to hike a total of 21 miles/ 23.8 km with a descent of 4.780 ft/ 1.457 Hm and an ascent of 5.761 ft/ 1.756 Hm. Pretty impressive I think.
At 2:30pm I started to head back down…..and what had been a very enjoyable, albeit hard hike uphill, became an absolute nightmare downhill. I just do NOT like going downhill. It’s always fun for the first like half hour and then it just becomes exhausting and painful. Especially when the trail is rocky, gravelly and full of big steps (which i don’t really seem to notice while going uphill).
Also, the dropoffs seemed to be a lot steeper and more dangerous, especially as the wind started picking up and blowing me from side to side. Or when I stumbled and faceplanted in the curve of a switchback. Also, I thought Megan and Steve had gone ahead of me and I hiked my ass off trying to catch them, practically running down the trail.
I made it to the water source by 5pm, and Megan and Steve suddenly came up behind me….?!?! Apparently i had overtaken them when they took a pit stop at Supai Tunnel, so I had pretty much been chasing my own shadow for the last two and a half hours, at times running, covering a distance of 5.4 miles/ 8.4 km and a descent of 3.641 ft / 1.110 Hm.
The last stretch back down to Cottonwood Campground took over an hour and Steve, Megan and I stuck together to make it there. After almost 12 hours of total time I made it there at 6:10pm. I freshened up a bit and then got treated to dinner by Steve and Megan, who had packed out cooked hamburgers and hot dogs. OMG, so good….
And I found a blister on my heel….which usually never happens. I was in bed by 8:45pm, just in time for hiker midnight.
Stay tuned for day 3…the longest yet.
Keeping you posted.