Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Grand Canyon. May21 to 27

Wow. Words and pictures are never going to describe what we just saw and did in the Grand Canyon. It is all sort of a scenic, adventurous blur, but I wrote down some notes of things that I want to remember, and took a lot of pictures, which will follow.
On Tuesday, the 21st, we pulled the RV out of the campground, Trailer Village, and parked it in the back country office parking lot, which is a free parking area that handled Rv's, tour buses, and other large vehicles that can't park in the normal parking lots. We closed up for a week of storage, put a note in the windshield that said we were on a river trip, and headed to meet the shuttle with our backpacks loaded. We met the Trans Canyon Shuttle at the Bright Angel Lodge right on the south rim, for a four hour ride to the north rim, where our rafting would begin. We made a couple of quick stops along the way for snack and bathroom breaks. The driver was an old timer with a bunch of great stories, which passed the time quickly. After we got out of the national park, we traveled through the Navajo Reservation, which was filled with beautiful scenery, as well as small towns, and roadside stands, selling native jewelry and art. We also had a lot of narrative from the driver, describing the buildings we saw (including hogans and sweat shacks), as well as there farming techniques out in the middle of the high desert. We passed the home of the last living Navajo code talker from WWII. We also traveled the path that I plan on riding as we travel to Utah, so I paid close attention to road and shoulder conditions, as well as water refill spots. We traveled AZ 64 out of the park, to Cameron, AZ, where we turned on to US 89, which is the only way to northern Arizona, a mostly shoulder less, high traffic, potential death trap through the reservation. I was also warned about the packs of feral wild dogs that roam the area for food. After my little wolf/coyote episode in the eastern Arizona mountains, that caught my attention. I will carry a weapon through this area.
Near the end of the trip, we crossed the Colorado River at Marble Canyon, went another 10-15 miles through the most beautiful scenery that I have seen in this entire country, to the Cliff Dwellers Lodge, where we stayed the night. It was an oasis in the middle of nowhere for travelers, rafters, and fishermen. It had about 32 rooms in four or five different one story buildings, a restaurant and bar, ( where we sat outside and ate, overlooking the sunset on the already multicolored Vermillion Cliffs, in the perfect weather), and a small store, that mostly sold supplies for forgetful hikers, rafters, and fishermen. The Hatch River Rafters also had their headquarters right there. That is the company that would be responsible for our lives on the Colorado River. We stopped in to say hello, and met a few guides, as well as fellow rafters.
We settled in to a cozy little room, our first night in a motel on the entire trip, (beside my room in little Havana in Miami). It was very basic, but nice...just what you would expect for such a cool location.

Our back packs ready to load onto the shuttle that will take us to Cliff Dwellers


Cliff Dwellers Lodge - where we stayed the night before we got on the river

Eating dinner on the patio

View from dinner - the light area is the sun starting to shine over the mountain and light up the Vermillion Cliffs

Now the entire mountain is lit.

Next door to our lodge is these cool rocks - the big rocks fell from the mountain a long time ago and then the land eroded away to leave the pedestal

Back in the 20's a woman built a home around some of the rocks!



Mike climbed up to look down on Pam and the rocks.  The building to the left of Pam is a 3 seater outhouse!

Fuel is a bit high out in the Marble Canyon!


May 22----we awoke early and had a quick breakfast at Cliff Dwellers before our 8:30 meeting time. We met the owner, Steve Hatch, and he informed us that we were two people short, and they were going to try to find them before we left. We all stood around until they tracked down a father and son who got in real late, after being lost, and were asleep in their room. After all 24 people were accounted for, we headed upriver about 15 miles to Lee's Ferry, an accessible place where all the boats running the canyon put in. It was a hectic scene, loading everything onto boats, meeting guides, getting pfd's ( personnel floatation devices), and working around another company who was also departing in motorized boats. I guess I should have known what we signed up for, but I was surprised to see that we were going in four passenger rafts, with one guide in each boat with oars. There was also one boat that carried six paddlers. The boats were smaller than I thought they would be. The motorized boats that left with the other company were what I had always seen pictures of. We were gonna be way more up close and personal with this river than I had anticipated. This was gonna be a challenge. Each boat was loaded with gear, strapped down to survive a flip. There was also one boat strictly for gear, with no passengers. There was no way we were going to flip these boats back over if one flipped, like we could on the Youghogheny, ( I know that's not spelled right, but the spell check couldn't even spell it right), Gauley, or the New Rivers back east.
The trip started off with calm waters, and relatively low canyon walls. We went under the bridge which had crossed us over the canyon yesterday, and it was 'only' five hundred feet high. When we pulled over, under the bridge for lunch, we saw two condors, who put on a show for us. I was told that there were only 422 documented condors in the country ( maybe in the world?), and we had seen four in the last few days! After lunch we hit our first big rapid, and after we hit it, we were happy to be alive. As it turns out, we were with a guide making her first passenger river run with oars. ( we found this out after the trip). There was a huge rock with a hydraulic whirlpool behind it that we were supposed to miss, but damn if we didn't go right over the rock, into the hole. We knew it wasn't gonna be good when our guide said 'Oh Shit!', as we went in. The water started sucking us in towards the rock, the boat started to flip. We had been instructed on what to do if the guide yelled 'high side!', and when she yelled it, I got my butt from out of the on rushing water, to the high side of the boat. The lady in the front, on the low side, sort of froze, not knowing which way to throw her weight, and just when the boat should have flipped, the rapid spit us out. No one knows how that happened, but that was just the beginning of the series of rapids we were going through, known as 'Big Badger'. Our guide, a thirty two year old sweetheart named Chelsea, pulled herself together, and got us through it. To her credit, she hit every rapid perfectly for the rest of the trip, and was an awesome guide, telling us stories of each rapid, and of the early river explorers and runners who died on each one! Charles and Mary, a brother and sister who were with us were also very spunky, nice people who made our first day on the river a great time. No one was overly stressed about our near dump, and it was all part of the experience, and a great story to tell, now that its over.
There were several more fun rapids before we made camp on the shore for the night. The guides did all the cooking, and the passengers formed lines to pass all the equipment from the boats to the beach, including tables and 24 folding chairs, cooking equipment, personal night bags, sleeping kits, which included bags, pillows, and drop cloths, and sleeping pads that resembled personal gymnastic mats, and tents The guides each slept on their own boats, under the moonlight, so they could monitor the ever changing river height (which was controlled at the Glen Canyon Dam, upstream), so they could be found in case of a problem, and so they wouldn't compete with guests for coveted level camp sights. One guide, Dom, pulled out a fishing rod, and caught a rainbow trout on about every cast. They are stocked in the river, there are tons of them, and they hit on anything, since they are very seldom fished. Definitely the greatest fishing river you are ever gonna find, because it is so inaccessible.

Launch point at Lee's Ferry.  The orange boats are ours and the blue in the background are a motorized float trip with a different company.

Getting ready to launch.

Floating down the river.  Ahead are the Marble Canyon bridges.  One carries cars and the older one is for people.

Rolling on the river! Charles and Mary (brother and sister) and Chelsea on the right.

Some pictures just don't need a comment!  There will be alot of those on this trip.


Looking back at some rapids that we survived!

This huge rock just dropped off of the mountain a long, long time ago.  We are only looking at about 30% of the rock, the rest is below the surface of the water.


Chelsea the guide is on the left.  Check out the sky, can it get any bluer?

Looking back at another oar boat

Starting to move into some frisky water - I kept telling Mike to sit down and put away the camera!


Riding the rapids - they are WAY bigger when you are in them!

Chelsea on the left, Charles and Mary and lots of beautiful Grand Canyon! 

Relaxing on the river

WOW!

Tough Agave plant growing out of the rock

Dropping into a big rapid - Sit Down Mike!

Going through the rapids


May 23---Day two on the river included a wilder ride with many more sets of rapids than day one. We had time to stop for lunch at a place that included a cave that we could climb up into. It was really like a seam in the rock. A cave makes it sound like there was room to maneuver. I went in with several younger passengers, two male guides, and our boat-mate Charles, who might be my age, but is an experienced mountain climber. I've never been in any thing like this. It was barely wide enough for my hips to fit through in places. We climbed strait up with our headlamps on, of course, and that was the easy part. Climbing back down through a different seam was more difficult, with difficulty seeing your footholds. The guides were great, and I got out with time to spare for my reward, lunch. I really had no business in there, but I'm glad I did it. Ain't never gonna happen again!  After lunch, the winds were mild and the water was calm, so our guide, Chelsea, asked if anyone wanted to try their hand at the oars.  Mike and Charles both volunteered, so Mike went first and struggled at first to get the rhythm of both arms working together and making a big boat go - this isn't a little row boat!  After a few strokes, he got the hang of it and did a nice job. He even got to take us through some baby rapids (called riffles), which we have now named Rose Riffles!  After awhile (and his neck started to hurt), he turned the oars over to Charles, who was a master at it!  He has rowed before!  After awhile, the wind started to pick up and the oars went back to Chelsea.
We did have one incident today, but it involved the strong headwinds in the canyon. I didn't know if the wind would be lighter in the canyon, or stronger because of the tunnel effect, but the wind was strong towards the end of the day. Wind affects a raft on water much more than it affects a biker. The guides were working their a---s off, and could barely make any progress. There are so many side currents, eddies, whirlpools and boils in the Colorado, that survival in the water is really problematic if you would go in. The water temp is pretty damn cold, and the current is FAST, but these water currents will suck you somewhere you don't want to go. Think rip currents going in several directions, including DOWN. At one point the wind and currents were so bad, all seven boats ended up in an eddy, playing bumper boats with oars, trying to get into a current, against the wind. We were stuck for about ten minutes, and finally one boat at a time started finding a downstream current, and we all rolled on eventually. One guide told us that they were stuck like that for three hours one time, and it wasn't in the same place on the river. There are many potential places that can do that. The guides were exhausted by the end of the day, and I can sort of relate to their head wind struggles, but on a smaller scale. And on land, not water!
     We did have a near flip on one of the rapids, also.The paddle boat got a little crazy over one of the big rocks that they were supposed to avoid, and it 'dumptrucked'. This means that even though the boat didn't flip, it threw all seven riders out of the boat and into the fast moving water.   Somehow, they all got back aboard almost as fast as they could have, and no one was swept downstream. It was a harrowing moment, but also the story of the trip and the most exciting moment for those involved.  Supper included burgers and brats,and everyone slept well. Last night was not a good sleep night, without my favorite pillows, but tonight fatigue took over, and I think the case was the same for Pam.

Scouting a big rapid - the guides were plotting their  path.

Different view of same rapid

Our guides planning their route

Getting ready to launch the boats and take on the rapid.  The paddle boat did "dump truck" which means dumping all aboard, but the boat stays upright.  All got aboard quickly and safely.

More cool scenery

Lunch time!  Time to land on the beach

Dom, one of the guides did a little fishing during lunch.

All the boats are pulled in for lunch.  You can see the cave in background.


Better view of the cave - the group around the table is making lunch

Mike climbed up the rocks to take a birds-eye view of the lunch camp

In the cave, looking out

Charles at the oars.  There are no pictures of Mike because the camera was around his neck and I didn't want to disturb him!

Chelsea back at the oars

Cool rock formation - another cavern

In the big cavern looking out - this was caused by an eddy thousands of years ago

On the river

Setting up our camp the second night

May 24---Today, at the suggestion of the trip leader, and doctoral candidate in English Literature, Rachel, we played musical passengers, and almost everyone changed boats and guides. We ended up with Sean Hatch, nephew of the owner, a twenty two year old, with lots of experience and ability in the rapids. He got his first boat for his birthday when he was twelve. Riding with him was much more relaxed and irreverent. There was joking, and the water cannons were brought out in the longer, calmer stretches of the river. We saw two peregrine falcons, and I learned that they were the fastest animal on earth, and they ate other birds as their main source of food.
We spent a long portion of the afternoon on shore, as we did a great hike up a side canyon, called Saddle Canyon, and explored a running waterfall, after a pretty serious climb. You will not find a picture of this waterfall however, because on the way to it, walking through two inches of water, we suddenly had to wade through a four foot deep pool in a narrow area. The camera was in my pants pocket, and the waterproof camera container was hanging around my neck. Damn. Another lady did the same thing, so we hatched the idea to have a place on the Internet for everyone to post their videos and pictures. There are pictures of Pam and I in that waterfall that exist, but I just hope our plan is executed, and everyone shares emails and loads their pics.
One of the strategies that has been playing out, has been the race to get to our camp sites in the first or second boat, so you can claim a flat tent site. Every camp is, of course, different, and in some of them, flat real estate is at a premium. Pam has been in charge of getting our site while I help dock the boats and unload. We have had good sites so far, and today Pam got Sean's ear, and prompted him to work to the front for a good site. Rachel, the trip leader, is always the first boat in, but Pam will do almost ANYTHING to get that flat tent site! Tonight at camp was the best meal of the trip, with grilled salmon, rice pilaf, and Sean baked a cake somehow and slathered it in chocolate icing. A cake baked in camp! We are really roughing it. This is a great tour in every way. Even though the camp site was flat, I spent a bit of the night looking out of our tent at the light cast on the canyon walls by the full moon. Even though the canyon is supposed to be one of the darkest places on earth and the subsequent star show is much documented, I really enjoyed the moonlit walls. The moon was like a spotlight. Not everyone who does the canyon gets that!

The remains of wooden dory used in the early 1900's.  This belonged to an 80 year old man who had a heart attack and died on the river, flipped his boat and his remains were discovered by hikers 30 years later!

Listening to the story about the boat

One of the canyons off the Colorado

Having lunch before our hike to the waterfall

Trying to show how clear the water is on the Colorado

Hanging at the boats

View from our hike up to the waterfall- pictures of the waterfall were not taken by us!



May 25 - Today we switched boats and hooked up with a guide named Greg Williams. I guess he filled in as a guide at the last second, because its my understanding that our trip is the largest in size that Hatch Expeditions has ever run on an oar boat trip, with seven boats. Greg, Shelly Hatch, (who ran the cargo boat) and our first guide, Chelsea, were not regulars. Greg was in from out of town (he lives in Moab, one of the worlds most beautiful places), Shelley is a great oarsman, raised on the river, but doesn't run trips, and Chelsea,  runs motorboat trips, but had never done an oar trip. We had noticed that Greg was quiet, not telling the same stories as the other guides, and was the oldest, with a long grey ponytail. He had a smooth technique, never having to muscle the oars, never getting that 'deer in the headlights' look that other guides sometimes got, and never fought the river, but just sort of went with it, and never got in trouble.He was very soft spoken, but more talkative than we originally thought. It turns out that his knowledge of the river was immense, and he told us stories of his personal river experiences, rather than the canned, historical stories the younger guides told. The people that the young'ins were telling stories about, Greg actually knew personally. It turns out that he hadn't run the Colorado river in years, but he handled every rapid, many times running backwards, or turning the boat so everyone got wet, where the other guides were more concerned about technical aspects and doing things just right. He also told us that he had run a boat that held the cameras in a Johnny Depp movie, and he was awaiting a call for a Steven Spielburg movie, but his main job was running rivers in Alaska. This guy could handle anything that was thrown at him, with seemingly great ease. We had as many rapids today as any day on the trip, and he seemed to take enjoyment from turning the boat so Pam would take the brunt of the water, and she cackled and squealed like a school girl every time she got hosed by the 50 degree water. Greg just smiled.
     The hike for the day was up the Little Colorado River (LCR). We were amazed as we approached the confluence of the two rivers, to see bright blue water(because of the type of minerals in it) flowing from the canyon on our left. it looked like it was  a swimming pool with rapids, and we were told that the water was 70 degrees, not 50, so we could go swimming. We were also told that during the rainy season (July and August), and the snow melt season, (April and early May) the LCR was a muddy, chocolate brown torrent of angry water. We had indeed, hit it at just the right time. We walked about a half mile up the LCR and came to a rapid where we could jump in and go for about a 100 yard ride. It was a little bumpy, but great fun. We spent about an hour or more there, and the pictures and videos can describe the 'cool' experience more than words can. The thing that stood out for me was the fact that there were no young people or college kids flying down these rapids, as you would expect to see about anywhere else at a place like this, but a bunch of old geezers, lawyers, real estate hot shots, bankers, doctors, and talk show hosts, squealing like kids, laughing, and having the time of their lives.
     When we finally made camp, we had a beautiful, flat site, and had among other things, chicken breasts for dinner. Greg, the guide, knew of a mine, up the hill, about 100 yards from camp, that was so well hidden that you would never know it was there. He told me to follow him, and went scurrying up the rocks like a younger man, in bare feet, that must have had cast iron soles. I, also was in bare feet, so like a fool I just followed him. My advice for the day is--don't climb trails in the Grand Canyon in bare feet! I don't think I need to say more. The government had blocked the mine shaft off with rails, so no one could get in, but you could see in, and the bats that lived there could get out at night. Of course, Greg described what was inside, as he had camped in there when he was younger, and had explored it. We came down, and he went back up with Jim, a geologist extraordinaire, to try to figure out what they were mining for. Jim analyzed the surroundings and determined that they were looking for copper, but found very little. He said there was nothing but sex rocks up there. When asked what that was, he said 'just a bunch of fu@#$ing rocks. That's geology humor, I guess. Jim the geologist was so enthusiastic about rocks that it was amazing. Each guide requested him on their boat so they could learn as much as possible from him, and he never stopped educating them. He was very interesting and knowledgeable, but when he didn't know something, he wasn't afraid to admit it.
     This night was the night of the actual full moon, and it lit the canyon like a light from God. I woke up several times and just looked at the canyon walls in the moonlight, with only the sound of the river as a backdrop. Its a memory that I will have with me the rest of my life. Many people slept without tents, just to take it in, disregarding such possible hazards like scorpions, snakes, spiders, mice and rats, and some critters with unidentifiable foot prints, thought to be ring tail cats. We were also told of bobcats and bighorn sheep that might visit, but sleeping under the moonlight trumped all the wildlife danger.
     Overnight, the level of the water would change, raising or lowering by as much as two feet. This was done upstream at the Glen Canyon Dam, and was intentional, as there was some studies going on the river, regarding sediment build up, and they were trying to rebuild some of the beaches that were deteriorating. The guides had to be careful how they docked the boats, because they might be dry docked in the morning, or, just the opposite. The water volume also determined the rating of each rapid. More water meant faster, and usually easier to navigate, and less water meant that rocks and currents would appear that made the rapid an entirely different creature. Two times in the last two days, we had to pull over, while the guides walked ahead to scout a rapid. As of tomorrow, the water was supposed to come to a uniform flow, the rapids would be 'normal', and planes would be flying overhead taking pictures to see if their experiments had paid dividends.

Just an awesome view from our boat!




Having a rough time with the sun.....


This is how much the boats are loaded down 

Pulling in for some fun on the LCR

Check out the view that we had every day!

The LCR (Little Colorado River) is as blue as a swimming pool.  Once the "monsoon" season starts, it gets muddy.

Half mile hike back to the rapids that we are going to ride


Obviously this is not the rapids, but the calm floating area.


My main man floating on the river!  What a tough life!


This is where the Little Colorado merges with the Colorado River.  You can see the difference in the water color.



Our afternoon trip to "LCR" - the Little Colorado River.  The water was a blue as a swimming pool!
video

Mike had alot of fun riding the rapids on the LCR - Pam did too, but there is no video of her!!
video


May 26 -The last day of river rafting for us was a long, calm stretch, where we could just lay back and admire the beauty of the canyon, and the skies above it. It was amazing how many jets fly over the Grand Canyon, and their streaks of white just hang for long periods of time creating patterns in the sky. most of the time that was the only clouds we saw on the trip. when clouds or shadows did cover us, the temperature changed, and the breeze, or wind in a lot of cases became pretty cool. We never really baked in the canyon as we were told we would. Our timing and the weather made for a comfortable trip, and the extremes were not existent. The cold water always felt good. We were never too cold to get wet. The sun always felt good, and we were never baking on the water. We were so lucky to have the weather we did. The nights were cool enough for comfortable sleeping, except for maybe the first night. The high winds made it hard for the guides, and often blew sand into our tents, our food, and our beer, but that was totally to be expected in May. Our last day was the warmest of them all, and it was great for the slow water and the water cannon battles that erupted to break the quiet solitude of the canyon.
     Our day started with a big rapid, which we all navigated successfully, but a private party of four boats and a kayak that we had seen periodically was not so lucky. By the time we pulled out after breakfast, they had passed us, hit the big rapid, and they had a boat flip. Everyone was ok, the boat was tied off over by shore below the rapid, and they were trying to figure out how to 'right the ship', which was fully packed, and heavy as hell, with the entire cargo soaking wet and under water. They eventually got it done, but not before we found one of their water cannons floating in an eddie downstream. It was going to happen anyhow, I figure, but Jim, the retired geologist, retrieved the gun in our boat, and began an all out assault on other boats, who all were armed and willing to defend themselves. Everyone, even the most stuffy, codgered old goats on the trip participated and got soaked. The paddle boat was the most dangerous, as they had seven paddles (including Domenic, the guide), and the most agility and energy in the water to splash every boat, one at a time. The only boat that didn't get wet was Kelly's boat. We haven't talked about her because we didn't ride with her, but she was a strong, outdoorsy, twenty something, who was dating Domenic, the paddleboat guide. She obviously told her boyfriend that she didn't want to get wet, so when the paddleboat went after her, Dom tried to stop them and there was a mutiny on the paddleboat. As they got near Kelly, Dom had no choice but to take the attacking pirates overboard with him, to quell the attack on his girlfriend. the main perpetrator, Michael D., an industrial banker from Texas, and Singapore, and other places, was dragged into the mighty cold Colorado by Dom, and a retired Coast Guard officer named Bill, probably in his seventies, was a casualty of the struggle, and went in the water also. Kelly didn't get wet, and Domenic still has a girlfriend after his heroic efforts, and everyone was highly entertained.
     We camped early on this last night, as ten of us had to prepare to hike out the next day. The guides had to prepare for ten new arrivals who were hiking in as we hiked out. We had time to hang out with new friends, shrimp creole, rice and beans to eat. We had our most slanted campsite of the trip, so the sleeping didn't go so well, but we had to be up at 4:30 anyhow, so it really didn't matter.


Morning - just finished breakfast and we are loading up to ride more rapids.  We get a big one as soon as we launch!


White water ahead!

Just surrounded by the canyon

Our guide is wearing gloves (over his taped up hands) because his hands got so torn up the first two days of battling the winds to get up stream.

Scouting some crazy big rapids - they don't look big cause we were way up above them!

The guides planning......

Look carefully and you can see a yellow, private boat running the rapid - they had a wild ride!


Peaceful

Working hard....

Doesn't it look like a dead end???  We had that a couple of times, but when you get to it, it's just a sharp turn!

Last campsite landing before we hike out.

Our neighbors next to the tent!  They were a he and she Spiny Desert  Lizards!  They were in their mating colors, which means there was some hanky panky going on OUTSIDE our tent!!!



May 27 - We were up at 4:30 so we could get an early start, and beat the heat, that never really materialized. We had packed a lunch and filled our water the night before, so all we had to do was eat a bagel, hop in a boat and raft about a mile from our site to the drop off point. We didn't get dropped at Phantom Ranch like we were supposed to be, but we rafted downstream an extra distance, so the hike out was basically 7 miles, not the advertised 9 miles. The first two miles of the hike just paralleled the river, before the ascent began. I was pleasantly surprised by the coolness and shade on the first few miles of the hike. There was a running stream within our sight most of the way to Indian Gardens, which was our first rest stop, about 2.5 miles of hiking. I packed about ten pounds of water too much, because we heard horror stories of the heat, dehydration, and people dying or being hauled out. What a bunch of propaganda! It was a pleasant walk, with rocks dotting the trail that you did have to watch for. As the trail climbed, the rocks became less abundant, and the footing improved, albeit with lots of red dust sticking to my shoes, socks, and leg hairs.
     At Indian Gardens, we met the gang hiking in to take our seats on the rafts, and we picked up our upper trail escort, Lars, and sent Rachel, our trip leader back down with the newbies. The thermometer at Indian Gardens said it was 120, but it couldn't have been over 70 degrees. The next mile and a half had some decent ascents, but the beauty was beginning to be apparent as we looked back at where we came from, and looked up to where we were going. The next stop was the three mile house, three miles from the top. Many day hikers used that as their turn around point, and it was relatively crowded, with hikers with their cameras and clean clothes on, and no backpacks. Between the three mile stop and the mile and a half rest house, I will swear there was more than a mile and a half. It seemed long. There were volunteer Conservation Corps workers cleaning drainage ditches to get ready for the July and August Monsoon season. More and more Chinamen and Germans began to dot the trail with their cameras and oblivious trail hogging. I was tired, stinky, dirty, and carrying backpacks, so they got out of my way, because I wouldn't get out of theirs. I think they walked in the middle of the trail because they didn't want to get to close to the edge, or they didn't want to touch the rocks on the uphill side. Re-entering civilization was already beginning to piss me off. We handled the famous Jacobs Ladder, which is a series of switchbacks, steep trail, and beautiful cliffs above us. I had several nice conversations with other people that were walking out, but I really didn't have to much to say to the people day hiking in. They looked at me like I needed a bath and a shave, and I looked at them with a 'get out of my way' glare. The last mile and a half was the steepest of the climb, but the temperature was getting cooler, as it was only 71 degrees at the top when we got there. I did the second half of the climb alone, but I did finish up with two fellow rafters, Sandy and Honor. Pam stayed back a little and chit chatted with Lars, our guide. (Mike is trying to be nice and not make me look bad.  The truth is that I hit the wall around 3 mile hut/stop.  Mike had to take my back pack and finish the hike with 2 packs!  I finished the hike with Lars because he was walking me in (with forced stops) not because I wanted to chit chat!  My last 1 1/2 miles I started to feel human - even thought the tourists looked at me in horror.  I think I must have looked like death warmed over!) It took me six hours to walk out, and it took Pam six and one half, and we were out by one pm. My back hurt a little, but I think the most fatigue was from five night sleeping without my favorite pillows. We had a beer in the lodge at the top of the trail, and took the bus to the stop nearest the rv. We were in bed by 6:45 and I was asleep by 7 pm. Pam may have lasted a few minutes longer. I was sooooo happy to see my pillows. We got a solid 12 hours sleep, and had a great breakfast at the fancy lodge El Tovar, before doing a little shopping for souvenirs, and getting ready to head back to Flagstaff.

Coming up the trail - I feel like a pack mule!


Done taking a break, ready to start hiking again!  I was still carrying my own backpack at this point

Thermometer at Indian Garden, one of the rest spots (water and shade is available) - this was the temp in the sun.  Fortunately, it gets cooler as you ascend!

We are hiking up and the mule train is coming down.

Mule train coming!  Have to get off of the trail to let them pass by.  

Rear guide on the mule train.  He stopped and told me to take a picture!  Unfortunately I was in the shade so the picture didn't turn out too good.

Looking back on the trail - this was a good piece of it, relatively smooth

View from the trail - but I wasn't totally appreciating it!!!  Thought I was going to die!  HAHA

View from the trail

Lars, a guide from Hatch Adventures who hiked with me the last 3 miles of the trail.  Poor Mike was carrying his backpack AND mine!  He had to hike ahead because he just couldn't hike as slow a me and carry everything!  Thank you sweetie, I never would have made it without you!  

After our hike out of the canyon on Bright Angel Trail.  If I wasn't propped up on this sign, I'd be falling over!!!  HA HA

New plaque - the trail was rededicated this year since they built new toilets and showers at the top of the trail.

My mountain man!  After a week on the river and trails, carrying my backpack out the last 3 miles,  bathing in the river, not shaving.... having a beer at the Bright Angel Lodge after hiking out.


This is the upper 4ish miles of Bright Angel Trail. Unfortunately you can't see the lower part of the trail where we hiked 3 miles up from the river.  Hope this gives you a little idea of what we hiked out on!  Keep in mind, it isn't a regular walking trail, you hike over rocks, boulders, etc!
                                             video


Below is a list of the people that shared our time in the canyon, for my memory if not for any other reason:
Brian---a doctor from the Reno Nevada area that looked like John Hamm and paddled every day. He was on a celebration of his fiftieth birthday.
Rick--Brians buddy, a political talk show host from New Jersey
Ed---Geology teacher from Colorado
Jim---Geologist extaordinaire and his wife Ellen, who was from Parkersburg WV origionally
Charles--retired ship inspector from Washington. He was on our boat the first two days, along with his sister Mary, a retired apple grower from Washington.
Bill--Retired Coast Guard, and his wife Mary, with the blonde spiked hair
Larry and Susan
Sandy and Honor--from Maine, Ifinished walking out of the canyon with them.
Michael Dee and his son Christopher--Industrial banker and Duke Student. Late for everything.
Rob and Carol--Real Estate broker and pediatrician from Tuscon. Rob liked to fish
Tom and Donna---Lawyer and hospital administrator from Phoenix
Ketty and Christie-- sisters who are doing southern tier bike ride next year.
Janet--single, vegetarian
The crew: Chelsea, rookie oar run who we rode with the first two days
                Sean Hatch, 22
                Shelley Hatch-Seans mom, steered the supply boat
                GregWilliams-Grey ponytail, the experienced one.
                Rachel--doctoral candidate, trip leader
                Dom-paddle boat guide, and his girl Kelly

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