Thursday, July 11, 2019

Returned from our yearly sojourn to the North Rim for the 4th of July waterfight.  Once again I dressed as Wonder Woman.  Alas, no one else in costume.  Where, oh where, was Captain Kaibab?  Minor panic when I dressed up and found my cape had lost a neck tie.  No needle and thread.  No safety pin.  So I fastened it on with a paper clip. 

I leant my water gun to a boy who had none, and he immediately blasted me.  He gave up when he found out that it doesn't HOLD water.  One has to fill it and immediately shoot.  Which means he could not chase anyone around. 

My planar is acting up again, so we ride bikes.  The Arizona Trail, the roads above Demott Park.  The lever on my wheel fell off, and I found it in the middle of the road.  Those location skills developed looking for litter served me well.

Then to Bryce.  Really good ranger programs.  One with a supervisor who was filling in for someone.  More rangers at Bryce than at the North Rim.  What is with that?  Rode 33 miles one day to Red Canyon and back, 35 the next to Rainbow Point and back.  Now at home, where it seems hot and is certainly more crowded. 
going to the water fight

Drenched!

Sunrise at Bryce

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Brad in the ducky on the yampa.  Before he took the adventure swim. 

The three kings pictograph outside of Vernal on private property

Slim riding Bears Ears. 
Trail friend
Long House at Mesa Verde
How they got down the rocks at Chaco

Super nova at Chaco. Notice the mud daubs.  Apparently this is not uncommon at some sites, and they are original.

Summer 2019.  It is said that the best way to spend money is on experiences rather than things, so we signed on with a commercial river trip and a commercial bike trip.  Let your guides do the planning, and the shuttle, and the cooking, and the cleaning. 

First a week on the Yampa with OARS.  Dan, John, Izzy, Robin, and the geologist, Elliot.  We had been with Elliot two years prior.  There was another geology trip a few days ahead of ours with Wayne Ranney.  That would have been tempting, had I known, but his trip was full, full (25) and ours only had 14, which was more manageable. 

The river was high, 20,000 CFS, which level we have not seen the Colorado through the grand in a long time.  I rode through all the rapids with a minimum of whimpering.  One of the peeps told us his river name is Juanito.  I told him my river name is “cringes in the bottom of the boat and screams like a girl”. 

One gentleman told me he wanted to go with Wayne, but the trip was full.  “Do you know Wayne?”  “Yes, I work with Wayne.”  Silence. 

“When I was at the GC guide training seminar, do you know GTS?”
“Yes, I often present at GTS”.  Silence.

“When I was at the GC history symposium, do you know the history symposium?”  “Yes, I am on the board, and I was in charge of the tours for the symposium.”  Silence.  I guess the proper response would have been, “Gosh, no, tell me more.”

One day Holiday crowded us a bit.  They beat us to the Mantle Cave, so we climbed up some slick rock to another cave. Then their six boats took up the whole beach at the scout for Warm Springs, and we barely got onto the beach.  Then a private trip showed up and there was no room for them at all. 

We could not hike up to Wagon Wheel because it was afternoon when we got there.  Well, Brad and I could have, but one older guy was determined to go, and I am sure John did not want him up there in the heat of the day, so he cut the hike short.  If we had asked to go by ourselves, it would have put John in the position of saying, “Yes, the two of you can go, but not him”, and that would have been awkward for John. 

Brad was in the Ducky day four and got washed into the creek.  They picked him up right away, but lost the ducky. (We got it back when another OARS group downstream sent their paddleboat to fetch it).  A young man was also washed out, but was wearing a “guide” PDF instead of a class III, and was recalculated through the eddy for quite a ride.  Dan had to run upstream and grab him with a throw bag, because our boat could not break the eddy fence.  Kept the ducky, lost the paddle.  So we lost enough time that we could not hike up Jones Hole. 

Took an extra day in Vernal to visit Dinosaur and take a walk with a ranger who has degrees in geology and anthropology.  Then went out to a private ranch with some impressive rock art.  I am glad they chose to protect it, but what happens if the kids don’t want the land anymore? 

Down to Moab for the bike trip with Western Spirit.  Sean, Liz, and Willie. By far the most professional guides we have been with yet.  On any trip.  Stopped by the Edge of the Cedars, which is a collection of pothunter goodies which were seized in raids.  So most of the pieces said, “provenience unknown”.  Depressing.  Recognized some names from families at the school.  Hmm. 

Then we rode through the reduced Bears Ears national monument.  I immediately wrote to my congresspersons again to complain about this land being withdrawn from protection and handed over to a CANADIAN uranium mining firm.  I rode up all the hills, and down all but one. 

Two years ago we were on a WS trip when they built huge bonfires every night, even in the State campground where the signs specifically said no wood longer than 2 feet.  They were tearing down whole trees to set on fire.  As the High Priestess of Leave no Trace, I wrote a pretty stern note to WS, and they answered that the guides did not want big fires, but one of the kids on the trip kept bringing in trees.  I told them, one, that was disingenuous, and two, as guides we do not allow people to do anything they want just because it would be fun.

On this trip we brought our own wood, and dismantled the fire rings.  A result of my complaints?  I would like to think so.  I wrote them a nice letter this time.  See, I can be polite. 

Then to Canyons of the Ancients, which we had never heard of until a friend moved up there to be superintendent.  A lot of little side canyons around Cortez with the highest concentration of sites anywhere.  Lots of hikes, lots of unexcavated sites, and lots of ways to get lost, since most of the trailheads are not even marked.

Mesa Verde then to tour Long House and Balcony House.  The Long House tour was the best I have ever been on.  The ranger had a double masters degree in Cultural Anthropology and History, and was able to answer all my questions. 

I recently had a discussion with a friend who claims that rangers don't really need degrees.  Their time would be better spent just learning about the park they are in.  But going on a tour with a highly, some would say over, educated ranger makes all the difference.  At least to someone, like me, who has some background knowledge and wants to get deeper into things. 

Since we were so far north, we spent two days in Chaco.  Hiked to the Jackson steps (7 miles) and the supernova pictograph (6 miles). 

So the first three weeks are done.  Next up, North Rim, Bryce and Zion. 



Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hiked 100 miles during the month of November.  In addition to our usual day jaunts to Skelton Point, we spent three nights in a cabin at Phantom on our own and two nights over Thanksgiving with friends.  Who, after hiking out, are still speaking to us. 

On Friday, we started down in a blizzard, which one of us was not happy with, but it cleared off and we even got a rainbow once below the Redwall. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

First I got drafted to lead a four-day intro hike down the South Kaibab and over to Indian Garden.  Go ahead: twist my arm.  The group meshed very well: it is not that unusual to have one person that everyone would leave behind if they could.  Weather was perfect.

Then the next weekend we took Paul into the Canyon for his first overnight.  He tells me that he did hike down with us once in July, the time I found a Grand Canyon Pink rattler in the middle of the trail eating a wood rat.  On that occasion, everyone but me hiked back out and I guarded the snake for a good two hours to keep it from being stepped on.

Anyhow, I got a permit for Saturday, and then got into the "walk up" line at the BCO to get a Friday night as well.  Then I had to work Friday, so we did not start down until 2:30.  It gets dark at 5:30, but we made it just in time to snag the worst campsite: the one right next to the bathroom.  This would seem ideal, except every time someone opened the door, the light flashed right in my face. 

Next morning I espied a woman packing up from my favorite site.  This one is also near the bathroom, but shielded by a thick screen of trees.  We lurked until she left, and then moved sites.  I am sure she thought I was stalking her. 

That day we hiked to Ribbon Falls.  So all in all, we did 30 miles within 48 hours.  That is harder than just hiking in and out. 
The lower route into Ribbon

Paul at ribbon falls

Monday, September 24, 2018


Rode the Pedal the Petrified this weekend.  It was great.  Looking forward to next year, when I shall train my derriere to ride the entire 60 miles instead of just 30.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Spent a week in Boston for a wedding.  It was a pretty big affair.  The rehearsal dinner, the wedding it self, the reception...  The reception included a procession of the bride and groom, the mother, the father, the grandmother...fortunately I did not qualify for a march across the floor.  The music was so loud, we cut out early. Why do we have to destroy our hearing to attend these events?  Part of the idea is to talk, which one cannot do when music is blasting.  I made my wedding dress out of $5 worth of material I bought at Goodwill, so ha!.

After the ceremony, we were instructed to turn to the person next to us and share a special thought.  As an introvert, I hate this part. I motioned Robbie closer and told him, "If you plan a big wedding, I shall knee cap you".

Since we flew all that way, we spent the week exploring Boston.  We lived there for two years, so we had some idea of how to get around and how to use the T, so we bought a week's pass.

One day at the aquarium with Robbie and Renata, three days in the Science Museum (we bought a membership), two days on the Freedom Trail, one day on the African American Trail, one day in the Harvard museum, one day on Georges Island to Fort Warren. We closed the museum every day.  We get our money's worth, by George.

Park Rangers are special. They are over educated, under paid, and every one of them has an area of expertise.  And all they are ever asked is Where is the bathroom.  We toured with a couple of historians who added a lot of detail.  Then we went into the African American museum with another volunteer.  I had no idea that there were four million slaves in the South before the Civil War.  The museum had just spiffed up the place with a grant from the Obama administration.  The historian told us that would never happen with the current administration, and I said, "Oh, ya think?"  He laughed.

At Fort Warren a volunteer showed us this eight-sided brick. A ranger did a trivia contest, which I won, and we attended a program on a Confederate memorial which was recently removed.  Fort Warren was mainly used as a Confederate prison, which I knew, but I did not know about the memorial.

Then a ranger at the new Bunker Hill museum gave an excellent talk on the battle, about which I knew nothing.  If the temperature is over 80, they close the monument and move outdoor tours indoors.  Wimps.

When he was a kid, Robbie loved this kronosaurus at the Harvard Museum. 

Lighting show at the science center: did this twice

the martian

Fort Warren.  The roof is held up by this eight sided brick.

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