Friday, April 21, 2017
Day 50. part 3. April 19. Grand Canyon Village to Mile 690.6 (South Kaibab Trailhead) to 704.1 (Trail to Ribbon Falls) & back to Mile 698.5 (Clear Creek Trail) to campsite
Day 50. part 2. April 19. Grand Canyon Village to Mile 690.6 (South Kaibab Trailhead) to 704.1 (Trail to Ribbon Falls) & back to Mile 698.5 (Clear Creek Trail) to campsite
Day 50. part 1. April 19. Grand Canyon Village to Mile 690.6 (South Kaibab Trailhead) to 704.1 (Trail to Ribbon Falls) & back to Mile 698.5 (Clear Creek Trail) to campsite
Day 50. part 1. Wednesday April 19. Grand Canyon Village to Mile 690.6 (South Kaibab Trailhead) to 704.1 (Trail to Ribbon Falls) & back to Mile 698.5 (Clear Creek Trail) to campsite. Walked 13.5 on trail northbound plus 5.4 southbound plus 2.2 road walking from Yavapai Lodge plus 2 on Clear Creek Trail - in all walked 23.1 miles. For the 13.5 northbound on trail, 1895 up, 5269 down, total grade 535.7 ft/mi. For the 5.4 southbound in trail, 463 up, 1557 down, total grade 377.2. For the last 2 miles on Clear Creek Trail the app won't calculate but there was an overall elevation gain ( though with some ups and downs) of 1000 ft, so total grade at least 500 ft/mi.
Dear Trail Friends,
Today I hiked down into the Grand Canyon and then, deciding I would like tomorrow to be a day of rest and contemplation, chose to also hike as far toward Ribbon Falls as I could. I clearly misunderstood the location of the campsite the woman ranger assigned me for tonight. I thought it was an easy short level hike. It turned out to be very steep, and full of loose rocks. On the other hand, it was a stunningly beautiful hike and gave me a chance to contemplate my reaction when I believe someone had deliberately hurt or harmed me. Since I talked to this woman about my difficulty with ascents, especially steep ones, it seemed odd at best that she suggested this site ( and failed to warn that it was a steep climb) and it was easy for me to move into a slightly paranoid (well, slightly would be an understatement here) frame of mind where I imagined it as deliberate cruelty. For awhile as I struggled with the climb I was mentally composing letters to her and her supervisor. Then I thought of the Ribbon Falls story in which people in darkness spit on, urinate on, step on one another because they cannot see each other. As my mind obsessed with revenge fantasies (letters), I also told myself this woman was living in that world of darkness. She could not see me. I began to think this tough hike at the end of a very long hiking day was part of the pilgrimage. I have thought about the pilgrimage in relation to different stories: redemption/transformation, tragedy, hero's journey. But the story of human cruelty is another story (the pre-story to the redemption one) and perhaps the story that had troubled me most in my life.
As I walked up the steep trail and wondered if I could climb two steep miles before the sun set and it got dark (and feeling this trail would not be safe in the dark with a headlamp, nor could I see well enough to find a tentsite) I kept thinking this is part of the pilgrimage. The important thing is not whether this woman intended cruelty, or how to retaliate. I thought of aikido: receiving the energy of the attacker and flowing with it, not opposing it, but going with it and gently guiding it in a direction that protects both self and attacker from harm. My challenge for this part of the pilgrimage - to receive the energy that directed me to this campsite. Not fight or oppose it.
Slowly I realized I was hiking through great beauty to a campsite where I would have a solitary experience of a very crowded Grand Canyon.
Photo 1 shows my tent at the campsite.
Photos 2, 3 and 4 show the stunning views as I approached the campsite.
Day 49. April 18. Mile 682.1 (junction to town of Tusayan) to Mile 687.7 (junction for Grand Canyon Village) to Backcountry Information Office to Yavapai Lodge
Day 48. Monday, April 17. Mile 669.8 elev. 7382 ft, to Mile 682.1 elev. 6599 ft (junction to town of Tusayan). Walked 12.3 miles, 345 ft up, 1086 ft down, total grade 116 ft/mi.
Dear Trail Friends
Here I sit tucked between clean white sheets on a queen-sized bed at Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan. I had no coverage (strangely) for days and when I turned on the hotel wifi my AT&T appeared out of nowhere with 4 bars (after days of "no service"). I had wanted to call around and find a room (as well as keep checking the Grand Canyon Yavapai Lodge for availability (it was booked fully for tomorrow night and the next, but they do have last minute cancellations sometimes.
I think I mistook this lodge for the inexpensive one mentioned in the app. I was in shock when the man in the Libby quoted me the price but I suspected that rates might be high because of the proximity of Grand Canyon. In any case I did not want to hoist my backpack again and walk from hotel to hotel checking rates. I even accepted paying $40 more for the room for a bathtub (I really seem to prefer baths to showers when I come off the trail. Showers feel like work, baths feel like ... utter and complete self- indulgence.
I had a long bath, did my laundry, hand washed what I wore while doing by laundry (well, the socks, underpants and merino long underwear top - not the rain skirt), thoroughly washed my filter and decided it was probably fine. Okay,a stickler would probably rinse it with chlorine (or visit the website for how to clean it if the clean water end becomes condzmjnated), but the multiple rinses with clean water were enough for me. If small exposures can cause illness (guardia again, I would assume) then I'm already in for it. I am surprised at how calm I feel (sort of "que sera, sera" or "it is what it is") except for the fact that after such a long period of GI inflammation and distress (after the year of 4 antibiotics, including 2 for guardia) I have been amazed to see my bowels regain healthy function and equanimity apparently because of my drinking aloe Vera juice. (If you have intractable GI problems and nothing is working, you might try it. Lily of the Desert brand aloe Vera juice. 1/4 cup a day or two "shots" before meals. They make a powdered form I have used on the trail. It's got an artificial lemony sweet taste but I've come to not only tolerate but enjoy it. I almost took a photo of my poop this morning. Well formed healthy poop of a good consistency really seems special after living years with watery shards and lack of voluntary control (frequent seepage). But even I - and let's face it I'm a little more prone to self-exposure than the average freak on the street (or trail) - thought that might be just a little bit indiscreet. Though I do find it refreshing how freely hikers discuss poop on the trail. Taboos change with settings.
I've done what needs doing. I also went to the Mexican restaurant next door and had an exceptionally good dinner. I notice when I look in the mirror that I'm thinner than I've ever known myself to be. Not emaciated but definitely thin. Guess this trail needed more calories than the PCT. Makes sense.
This morning I - as I was writing that I recalled having trouble with my tent bag and accidentally cutting the draw string (which had gotten all tangled up with very thin strong threads that the bag, which is an ultra light high tech fabric called cyber fiber - just like my tent, back pack, etc. - starts to shed in a process called demyelination as it wears out, which is soon - these ultralight gear are wondrous but fragile and short-lived. Lessons in transience. ) Anyway I just took a break to try to repair the bag which involved finding a way to pull both cords through the little thingy (cord lock) - I used a needle and thread to pull the cord through.
So, back to my day. I had a scrumptious Mexican dinner at the restaurant virtually next door. Small soft corn tortillas with pork, onion, cilantro, grilled pineapple (!) and good fresh salsa. And beans and rice that looked like beans and rice at any Mexican restaurant but tasted much much better. Tasted divine. I don't think it was only that I just came off the trail.
Despite my slowed down morning due to stiff sack de-threadings and unravelings, I started hiking before 5 am with by the way my wonderfully powerful new headlamp (300 lumen - whatever that means - to me, it means I could see). I still lost the trail sometimes in the dark but quickly found it again. I am getting better at using the app to guide me when I go off trail. I've learned a lot on this trail.
Photo 1 is the sun rising as I make my way toward Tusayan.
Photo 2 is of a couple of elk ahead of me on the trail. They all ran away (6 or 8 of them) a few seconds later.
Photo 3 is a place in the trail where the rock started to remind me of bones and I had the odd thought that I was walking on bones. Right after I took the photo I realized I'd taken a wrong turn and hiked back a quarter mile to get back on the trail.
Photo 4 is some lovely rock formations just before Tusayan.
Photo 5 is one of the many noisy low-flying helicopters flying by here. I sssume they are not emergency vehicles, or border patrol hunting immigrants, but rather tours of the canyon.
Sorry I can't provide you with sound effects. (Lucky you. )
So tomorrow I will hike into Grand Canyon Village To the Backcountry Information Center where I will - I hope - discover what options I have for camping that might not be as beyond my abilities as my current reservations, alas, are. I will also pick up my resupply box at the lodge and bring it to the campground to sort since there is no room at the lodge. In the best of all possible worlds, I will hike down into the canyon Wednesday April 19, to Ribbon Falls (or rather the broken bridge and trail closure) Thursday April 20, and back up Friday (actually in the very best but I'm not aure a possible world I would get a third night at a campground halfway up and do the climb in two days, Friday and Saturday. ). Then I will head back to Flagstaff probably Saturday or Sunday the 22nd or 23rd and head home the 25th.
It's almost over. Although the climb up out of the canyon will likely be the most challenging day of all. My wonderful brother Scott sent me a photo of my father, probably just before (or just after?) his Grand Canyon hike in 1985, the year I decided to go back to graduate school (in the program he founded) and become a therapist. Dad was one year younger than I now in this photo. I sure will be thinking of him when I'm hiking the canyon.
Just an aside, trail angels Melody and Tim have one of those Mercedes Benz camper-vans that are the only true successors to the VW campers. Their van is named Henry IV - Tim says after his dad who loved to camp. Dad had a BW camper called Poppa Br - complete, like Henry IV, with vanity plate. I decided if I ever get that van I dream about, and if I ever do that road trip I dream about to see all the people I might otherwise never see again, it's going to be named Poppa Br.
My father was a wonderful man. I loved him a lot and I know he loved me a lot. He'll for sure be walking with me in the canyon.
Thank you for walking with us.