Friday, July 13, 2018

We spent our usual week on the North Rim.  Got locked out of the cabin, because those 1928 locks are garbage.  Hiked to Redwall Bridge twice and Woodforis twice.    No water fight this year because the pipeline broke again, and the storage tanks were low.  Just a parade.  North Rim is a lot smaller than south, and the rangers all know each other...and me.  Amanda says I make the rangers nervous when I come to the programs.
What a crew of weirdos.  Haley is the only sane one in the bunch.
Ranger Kim, Cathy and Paul Davis, Moi, Rachel, and Haley.

Cabin 305 has a defective lock. Our last morning they had to break in through the window. 

Then since we were so far north, we figured we might as well keep migrating, so we went to Zion.  Hiked the Emerald Pools trail with 1000 of our closest friends.  All the signs say not to get in the water, and I gave up remonstrating everyone.  Sign? What sign? Then we climbed to Observation Point and part of the East Rim trail.  There we met a group of four young men dangling with climbing gear who asked us where Echo Canyon was.  Um, if you are going to canyoneer a canyon, should you not know where it is?  They then decided to follow us because "you look like you know what you are doing".

Trail to Observation Point.  Narrow and exposed.  
It was hot in Zion, so we repaired to Bryce.  There we did the Wall Street - Queen's garden loop with another 1000 of our close personal friends.  We knocked down a bunch of ego cairns in Wall Street, and a father, whom I assume had just built one with his kid, remonstrated.  Brad said the area does not need adornment,  I said, there are ten now, what about when there are one thousand?

Ran into a PSR ranger and asked what he says to these guys. He said, "I am law enforcement. I pull out my badge".  We hiked 8.4 mile loop at Fairyland and only met a handful of people.  Also no ego cairns.  

Had a lot of questions about the geology, and the second geology program we went to was led by the man who was the park geologist for four years.  Score!  He told us all about the Claron formation, and told us the white conglomerate we saw was Boat Mesa conglomerate, and it only occurs there.  Not enough to be an actual formation, even.

Fairyland

Monday, June 25, 2018

Back from first part of vacation.  We visited Becky in the Dalles until her generator caught on fire.  Honestly, if she wanted us to leave all she had to do was ask... So we went to John Day, which everyone had told me I absolutely had to see.  We hiked in all three units of the park.  Not a lot of fossils in situ, but a great museum.

Then to Bend.  Spent two days in Newberry caldura. Hiked 14 miles one day, up the peak and around half the crater.  Then came back to climb the obsidian mountain, a small crater, and walk to the hot springs.  we asked the ranger so many questions that he dragged-us outside to show us where the 10,000 year old pit-house was found.  Since the middle crater in the lake grew about 7,000 years ago, there may have been people to watch.

A day at the High desert museum, and two days at Smith Rock.  The birthplace of sport climbing, as we found out.

Back to the Dalles.  We wanted to hike Coyote Wall, but could not see the turnoff, so we got permits to climb Dog Mountain.  Dog is so popular that they limit permits to 150 people a day on weekends, and a shuttle is available to the trailhead.  A nice steep climb, but no fun on the way down. Everyone in Oregon hikes with at least one dog and usually more. All of them were polite (the dogs) but hiking with a dog in tick country?  We found Coyote wall on the way back.  The sign was obvious.  I guess they ran out after we passed it the first time and put the sign up.  Spent one day going to museums, then back to Coyote Wall and back to Dog Mountain. Most of the good hikes (ie, lots of elevation) were closed because of landslide danger from the fire last year.

They knew exactly who started the fire, because hikers told him not to throw the fireworks into the forest just before he did so.  The kid has been fined with an amount he cannot possibly pay back.  I think he should sit at the trailhead and have to tell people why they can't hike in there.

After hiking in the ticks and the poison oak, I am glad to be back with the scorpions and the rattlers.
Painted hills unit of John day fossil beds

Climbing the caldura.  In the snow, and it is
108 at Phantom Ranch

hot springs

Owl rock art

Me, Becky, and She-who-watches

I don't think the sign refers to me.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

This poem was left for us after the last GCAFI rim to rim

We're hoping for a journaling class
hiking or biking or riding an ass
we'll sign up in a heartbeat if we hear in advance
Slim or Joan are involved without a backward glance
We'll scurry and hurry and be ready super fast
despite weather worry or flurry or storms that may last
thought chances are Slim we'll meet next week on the trail
We hope to join you again in the future without fail
Tom and Missy

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Finished rim to rim for the GCAFI.  Dunno.  The first day down North Kaibab to Cottonwood is a thrash, admittedly, but more so for people who did not take getting into shape seriously.  Also, skipping dinner and breakfast is a loser.  We are burning mucho calories, people.

Weather could not have been better.  Not too cold on the North Rim, 90's coming down, which is hot but not unbearable.  Cool enuff to sleep at night.  It was hot crossing the Box, but again, not as hot as could have been. 

I was able to rig my hammock every night.  At Cottonwood, I went between the pack bars.  At BA we got the Palace Suite and I tied off to the old CCC structure.  However the wind, or my rocking, or something wore through the cord and I sat down, hard, at 1 AM.  I did a quick scorpion sweep with my trusty black light and slept on the ground for the rest of the night.  Much prefer a hammock.

Next day I borrowed a cardboard box from the Ranch and cushioned the rock from the cord, or visa versa.  I also got in and out very carefully. The cord was 275 pound test, but it may be that springing up with enthusiasm puts too much stress on the cord.  I also put my pack under me, so if I fell again I could land on something semi-soft.  I know we are supposed to hang them, but all the food was out, and critters

can climb up to the packs anyhow.  Did not bring the heavy duty cord hanger because the whole point was to save weight.  And avoid ticks.  At IG it is easy to rig between the pack hanging bars.  Got a lousy tick bite anyway.

Gossiped with Helen at IG. They picked up an illegal guide a few weeks back.  Apparently he advertises on Facebook and is unprofessional enough that he gets caught. 

I met the AOA group doing a rim to rim with Phantom Ranch assist.  One gal at Cottonwood at 1 PM was really hurting.  Barely walking, looked to be in real pain.  I meet the guide at the water refill at the Delta, and he introduced himself.  I could not shake hands because my hands were full of micro trash I had been picking up, which he apparently was comfortable with ignoring.  I thought he was a different guide than I had seen the day before, so I asked about the gal who was doing so poorly. 

"Oh, that was "Sally". She's right here, and she's doing fine."  Sally gave me a dark look, but, hey, she was walking funny.  Helen told me that she was not doing well on the way out, either. 

This was "opening weekend", first weekend the North Rim is open to cars.  My lands, hundreds of runners.  Most of them were polite, but the 50th time you step aside it gets old.  Also two blasted past me with no warning.  I could have easily stepped to one side not hearing them, or dropped a stick and knocked them off into the creek. Asking to pass is safety for your as well, runners.  They also pretty much overrun the canteen at the Ranch. Helen said they did $130,000 work of retail at the Ranch.  They ran out of size Large tee shirts, so I will buy some for my people when I go back. Assuming they have them by then. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Friday hiked down to Indian Garden by myself.  Got my favorite campsite.  Of course, about 3:00 a commercial group came in and I had the largest site to myself while they crammed their tents into a single.  They had tortellini with chicken and a cucumber salad, tomorrow they will have steak diane {!}.  Serves them right to cram together. 

I have been looking for the Thayer pictographs for about 10 years, and I finally found them.  I was clambering around the Tapeats and a group of geezers spotted me from the trail.  They thought I was lost.  Yeah, I am across the creek and up on a cliff, are you guys on the trail?  I assured them I was exploring.  I imagine them going to the ranger and reporting a crazy lady in a skirt messing around the cliffs, and the ranger sighing and saying, "Of course she was".  Anyhow, found them.  Then I sat in the shade admiring them for a good half hour.  Hidden so no one on the trail could spot me. Class Three so I cannot tell anyone where they are.

Hiked out in two and a half, which including picking up one of the grossest items I have yet to find.  One of those special "hold the water" towels which stiffen like a board when dry.  Someone had used it as TP.  I actually walked past it and made myself go back.  I didn't even have a big trash bag, so I emptied my food bag, which barely fit it, particularly since it was dry and too stiff to fold.  Also I did NOT want to touch it.  Then when I stopped to snack, I poured a whole bottle of hand sanitizer on myself, and even then I picked up my cookie with a plastic bag so I didn't touch it. 

The wind was blowing like crazy.  I had my hammock up, and it works well in the wind.  I just wrapped myself up like a burrito.  Usually I am inundated by the dust.  IG is the only site one can rig a hammock legally, since the pack hanging bars and ramadas are so close together.  In fact, the permit says that hammocks are not allowed at Bright Angel, which does not mean no one tries to rig them on the trees. 

Spent a good half hour by myself out at Plateau Point.  On the way back, I met every commercial group there on their way for sunset.  The wind was really ripping on the River: I could see the waves going upstream from the point. 
hammock rigging in the large site by myself, ha!

UFO's over the Canyon

Plateau point

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Friday we decided to do our long hike rather than Saturday. The weekend before we had literally run-ins with downhill, out of control runners who rammed right into us rather than slow down to let uphill hikers pass.  The Saturday before, we contended with 80 illegal in-and-outers.  Any group which requires people to sign up in advance to do a day hike below the Tonto level must get a permit, and is limited to 30 people. 

Anyhow, we figured Friday would not have as many wing nuts on the trail, so we did Plateau Point.  A few nice cactus flowers, but not as many as one would expect.  Saturday we just walked the rim, and Sunday we did my first organized outing for the Grand Canyon Historical Society.  Here is the write up I did for the Ol' Pioneer, our newsletter: 

The primary goal of the US Forest Service for a long time (some would say too long) was the total suppression of fires.  To this end, during the early 1900’s, tall trees with sweeping views were utilized as de facto lookout towers.  The top was lopped off, a ladder or bolts hammered into the bark, and a platform constructed for the hardy fire spotter.  A telephone or telegraph completed the system.  If a fire was espied, the spotter would phone another ranger who would in turn load his equipment onto a horse and hie off to extinguish to the flames. 


The Hull lookout tree

Glass insulator for the phone line

An insulator between the tree and the road, just as we were discussing where the phone line might have run.
Saturday, May 6, the Historical Society met with Kaibab National Forest anthropologist, Neil Weintraub and hiked to two of these trees.  The first of these, the Hull Tree, was about a mile through the woods.  Along the way we found remnants of glass insulators: an indicator of the possible direction the phone line ran back in the day.  After a quick jaunt up the historic Grandview Tower, we adjourned to the Tusayan Lookout Tree.  This one is very close to the road and has a nifty new interpretive sign.  Many thanks to Mr. Weintraub for taking time out of his Sunday to give us the benefit of his expertise. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Had a lovely hike with the GCAFI and some great ladies.

We were at Tipoff, and a guy lying there offers us water from the SAR cache.  Says, I, that is for emergencies.  Says he, Oh, it is just right over here, and shows me.

Then a helicopter circles.  We scattered as it started to land, and the guy throws on his backpack and runs over.  The SAR ranger stops him and starts to manipulate his knee "to see if we have to immobilize it".  It is obviously weight-bearing, and he can walk.  We got bored and announced,
"Well, us old ladies are going to keep hiking".

Ran into a ranger on her way up to evaluate him, and she said she did not know what was going on.  He apparently knew "just how to whine" to get a copter.  She also said he was flown out, hopped into his car and drove off without even going to the clinic.

For the next few days, every time something went wrong, we said we needed a copter.  "Oh, a gu packet split and my food is sticky.  I need a copter".  "My oreos are broken: I need a copter"