FKT: Suzanne "Sunny" Stroeer - Grand Canyon R2R2R-alt (AZ) - 2023-10-31

Route variation
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Total time
20h 10m 15s
GPS track(s)

Between work and life I had a narrow window for a go at the Grand Canyon R2R2R-alt, which I had been wanting to repeat solo since Christin, Lexi and I posted the first Women's FKT on the route in 2020. I loved that mid-pandemic team effort... but always felt it took the edge off the route given the nature of the river crossing - even though Christin and I did swim in 2020, too (but Lexi carried our gear in her packraft). In addition I also really wanted to see North Bass in daylight -- since we had started at the North Rim at 2am during the first go and onsighted the whole thing, we did 90% of North Bass in the dark in both directions.

I stuck with North Rim access for this go around but traded the wetsuit and oh-dark-thirty start time for a casual 7am start, stubby fins, and the Coconino Cowboys swim strategy: the birthday suit. I actually swam in my run outfit for the first crossing since it was mid-day and the sun was somewhere between pleasant and borderline hot.  For the return crossing I opted to keep my clothes dry because it was now dark and near freezing (there was a freeze warning for the river that night, and my truck temperature gauge on the rim the next morning red 14 degrees at one point). There was some teeth chattering while I waited to dry off after the return crossing before putting my clothes back on, but I much preferred this setup to the wetsuit that I had brought in 2020. 

North Bass was very beautiful in daylight, and much much faster than it had been at night.  I kept stopping for photos and video so much that at one point I considered abandoning the FKT attempt to just explore North Bass and do the swim -- until I realized that I was still an hour ahead of our old time, despite all the extra photo time.  On the flipside, reascending North Bass in the dark (I topped out just after 3am) was still challenging even though I had been able to survey the trail in daylight earlier. I lost at least half an hour on the final ascent due to poor bushwhacking choices and a general lack of fitness. 

The conditions were perfect. Calm, cool and sunny. There was ample water in Shinumo Creek, White Creek, and Queen Anne Spring was flowing nicely as well - a marked difference to the dry conditions we had had in 2020. I brought a 3l bladder and an additional 600ml handheld.  Turns out 2 liters of capacity would have been enough this time around, if only because the dry 15 mile South Rim roundtrip came with mellow temperatures. 

There were five vehicles, plus mine, parked at the trailhead but I only saw one sole hiker somewhere above Shinumo Creek during the morning hours.  I did wave to some boaters, too, who turned up right after I had completed the first swim. Nobody on the South Side trails and not even a single vehicle parked at South Bass. I did see a coyote, a skunk, an unidentified pair of eyes which was presumably mule deer, though it could have been a cat too - I did see only one set and the deer tend to hang out in multiples; and a bison in full gallop (on the rim). 

I used my Garmin InReach mini as my primary tracking device and did not manage my watch tracking tightly, which is why you'll see a slightly longer elapsed time on Strava than what I am reporting based on the InReach stats. 

Great day in the canyon and I am pleased to report that I have a newfound appreciation for the Colorado River.


Jumping into that water alone at night would be a huge emotional hurdle.  It's 55d, a strong current, and you have to hit the correct take-out spots which are flanked by cliffs. A courageous FKT!