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"
Arizona teachers are on strike, just because Gov. Dipstick cut funding by about a billion dollars.  He promised a one percent raise this year, then 10% after he is re-elected.  Uh, huh. Anyhow, all teachers walked out Thursday.  Our school voted to stay in, but the ones who voted not to (and lost the vote) walked out anyhow. So why bother to vote?  I put up with all sorts of politicians I did not vote for.

So Friday, we did the highway pickup with NHS and then climbed Red Butte.  900 feet and a little over one mile.  A holy place to the Havasupai, and there are areas on top where one may find worked points.  Apparently it was the place to be to chip out tools.

Saturday down the South Kaibab.  Not as many people as last weekend, but they made up for it in obnoxiousness.  Or maybe since we hiked out BA last weekend, we missed the downhill scene on SK. 

One woman stepped to the side to allow me to come uphill, and a runner tried to cut between us.  "Right of way, excuse me".  I stood my ground.  "I have the right of way, excuse me".  Then a downhill runner hit my shoulder, and yelled, "Take up the whole trail why don't you?"  I yelled back, "Uphill has the right of way!"


About a half dozen kids (10 or 12 or so) were running down full tilt, arms and legs flailing, no control at all.  The trail was fairly crowded at this point.  Brad was rammed into  so abruptly the kid almost fell over.  Brad also got a bruise.  I got hit to the point where the runner was knocked sideways, and I yelled, "Uphill has the right of way!  Uphill has the right of way!"  The adult that I assume was with them also ran past and managed to clip my shoulder. 

We could have stepped aside when we saw them coming, but even if uphill did not have right of way, those kids were moving too fast to be safe,  either for themselves or for other people.  So why should we?  Later we passed an older lady who was moving a bit tenuously.  I shuddered to think of those kids ramming into her or bumping her sideways when they passed. 

I don't want to do a Maverick.  Maverick was a crotchety hiker who would regularly ram into downhill hikers, even if they weren't really in his way.  But these runners who think their speed is more important than other peoples' safety are out of line.  It is tempting to be at the BA in the afternoon when they drag their sorry selves back out. 

I have started thanking hikers who tell me they are going to pass me, and do so safely and politely. 

Sunday we got a late start and just bopped in and out of Bright Angel.  Not crowded at all first thing in the morning.  Probably worse later in the way, but no out of control runners. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Snowed on Friday, so we sat around like toads.  Got out to walk to the PO, it started snowing again, and we wimped out and went home.

So, said we, we shall go long on Saturday.  To that end we got in line for the 6 AM hiker shuttle to the South Kaibab.  A regular bus pulled up and announced that the hiker shuttle was not stopping.  Sure enough, I espied it careening down the road away from us.  Accordingly, we hopped onto the regular shuttle.

At that early hour, it only took an extra 10 minutes or so to get to the trailhead.  Due to construction, the actual trailhead parking is closed, and the bus pulls up about a half mile away.  As I hot footed my way along (trying to beat the crowd behind me to the outhouse) I heard shrieks and giggles from ahead.  There was an entire bus-load of hikers posing for pictures.  At least fifty of them.  It was they who had filled up the hiker shuttle.  We scampered down to get ahead of the pack, and passed an adult with a couple of kids.

"What kind of group is this?" said I.

"UofA.  We are going to the river and back."

I looked askance at the little girl sitting there.  She could not have been more than eight.  "Today?"

"We've done this before," defensively.  I doubt the little girl had.

"Do you have a permit?"  According to the NPS website, groups which hike below the Tonto level on a day hike and have participants sign up ahead of time must have a permit.  She ignored me. So when I got back, I emailed the BCO and ratted them out.

Still more huge groups traveling down in clots of ten or so.  Got caught behind an older man who collected about 15 people behind him.  He never looked back, never offered to step aside.  I felt like a car behind an entire row of cars: I don't want to pass 15 people at once.  Maybe I can wait until Mormon Flat where the trail is wider. 

I kept having to stop as the crowd inched their way down the water bars.  This is how people feel on the Hillary step on Everest, I thought.  Then the guy behind me grumped, "Excuse me, please, on your left".  I thought, "If he is going to do it, so am I."  So I surged to the left, saying, "Excuse me, excuse me."  When I reached the bottleneck guy, there was a nice ledge of Supai, so I trotted along the rock ledge and emerged triumphant at the head of the line.

The guy STILL did not stop to let people pass.  I picked up speed so I would not get caught behind them again, and didn't even take our usual rest stop halfway down the Redwall.  Made it to the Tipoff in one hour forty-five, scooted off on the Tonto West, and finally sat down for a drink. 

Hiking across on the Tonto was a relief.  Only saw one other couple.  Got to Indian Garden and filled up on water.  There were not as many people on the BA as I had feared.  I guess they were all still at the River (or on their way down still). Should have gone back at dusk to sell flashlights. A hiker on Facebook posted a picture of a line of hikers at Indian Garden at 1:15 that day waiting to fill water.  There are at least 50 in line. 

I would bet a lot of the young kids had a very hard time getting out.  It is getting warm down there, too. 70 in the shade, which probably means 90 in the sun. 

Then Sunday we went back down to mile and a half to stretch out the muscles.  It felt pretty good, and we cleaned up some graffiti and carried out a batch of really gross TP and the auxiliary fecal matter which we had been eyeballing for at least a month.   Saw it over spring break, and it was just too icky to think about.  I scattered it to let it dry a bit, and we finally bit the bullet and carried it out.  Along with a sweatshirt, a part of sweatpants, a cotton tee, and one glove.  The ghost of Micheal Jackson, maybe? 

Also saw turkeys. No, real ones.  Wild turkeys below the rim. Climate getting warmer?  Nonsense
cactus just starting to bloom on the tonto

First canyon east of Garden Creek

Real turkeys on the trail for a change.