Sunday, October 17, 2021

I thought we had been hiking sufficiently to stay in shape, but that was in the corridor and day-hiking on the Hermit.  No packs.  Hermit is rough, but as rough as the Hermit is compared to the BA or SK, it is still a threshold trail. I had my brand-new REI Flash 55, which is FIVE pounds lighter than my old pack, so at least my pack weight was below 25 pounds.  

We started down Grandview in snow and ice.  Second week in October, and of course it snowed.  I had my ice grippers in the car, and I didn't even make it across the parking lot before I went back for them.  The ice at the top did stop most of the "ooh, look, there is a trail here" hikers.  

The Supai section of the Grandview was in good shape before our summer rains.  Now they are as bad as I have ever seen them. At least a dozen places the trail is gone, and one has to climb up, down, and around a huge rockslide. My stupid knee collapsed under me, which hurt, but I soldiered on.  I didn't trust it fully for the next four days, however.  

The west end trail down is about the same, though a few what may be new slides.  I do not traverse it enough to remember.  We had heard reports of a huge fire at Cottonwood Creek, and sure enough, most of the cottonwoods in the upper spring are history.  Someone had to burn their toilet paper rather than put it in a bag and carry it.  How is burning wet paper supposed to work anyway? 

Cottonwood flashed big this summer, and the lovely little waterfall where the Tonto crosses the Tapeats is gone. So is the campsite we used during our spring survey.  It used to sleep ten people, but now it doesn't even fit one person.  We bedded down under where the Tonto used to cross, just before a commercial group showed up, hee, hee. 

Hance creek next night.  Lots of flowing water, and Mel and I walked downstream for about two miles before the water got deep enough that it needed wading chest deep, so we turned around.  The canyon seems to open up beyond, and I think it is possible to get fairly close to the River, but probably not the whole way without ropes. 

Down to Red Canyon, which is about as rugged as always.  No surprises.  Camped on the beach after a discussion about trying to find the Alleged Spring of which I had heard rumors.  Supposedly where the route out leaves the stream bed, there is a spring just up the creek bed.  Since everything was running with water, we figured there might be potable water there, rather than settling the Colorado, which was the color of milk chocolate.  however inertia set in, and we put out muddy water to settle and camped near the River. 

In the morning we started out the Red Canyon route.  There used to be a number of rock jams to get around which could be bypassed by going up the banks, but we only found one, and the bypass route had apparently been washed out.  As the other rock jams seemed to be. 

When the trail climbed out, Mel and I took off to find the Alleged Spring.  We found potholes and running water, and willows, which are water indicators.  We are fairly certain than during spring or just after a rain, this would be a legitimate water source.  We also found stromatolites in the rock. Duh, where else would they be? 

Climbing up was hard. Again, Duh.  But harder than expected.  I had not carried a pack for nine months, and I had not been on a multi-day out-of-corridor hike in years.  It used to take us four hours to climb out Hance, this time it took between five and six.  I do not count all the times I had to throw my pack up ahead of me on a big rock because I could not trust my knee.

I remember how bad the Hance was, but not HOW bad it was.  I shall never go down that trail again, and I may not ever go up it either.  We had always bypassed Hance and hiked an extra day to to out Grandview, and now we remember why. 

One of the new rockslides on the Grandview

Trekking on the Tonto East

In Gollum's cave

Stromatolites.  Also Brad. 


Saturday, July 10, 2021


We have returned from our North rim pilgrimage.  There was no Fourth of July water fight because the Park Service did not want to tell people to stand shoulder to shoulder and breathe in COVID cooties.  I am sure the masses of people we saw were all vaccinated, right?  right? 

We passed through Cameron on the way, the Navaho still require masks because they believe in science.  A blousy woman was incensed at the 'masks required' signs and demanded, "Isn't this Arizona?"  I said, "No, it is the Navaho Nation," pulled up my mask and walked in.  They are on a cross country trip with no masks?

We camped at Cape Final the first night and had the only rain of the trip. We were putting up the tent for the first time in five years in a hail storm. "This is the cross poll".  "No, THIS one is." 

We had a semi-view cabin on the North rim and the first thing that happens is a family strings a bunch of hammocks right in front of my porch and plop down.  Hammocks are not allowed by the Park Service because they are bad for the trees, and they ought not to be allowed by Forever Resorts because they look tacky.  Also, I did not pay extra for a view of fat tourists.  I have demanded a refund.  We shall see.  

I reported them and they were told to take them down.  They did, then immediately hung them back up and smirked at me because I could not get rid of them. 

We did all our hikes early because it was still in the 90's at 8,000 feet (!) One dark morning on the North Kaibab we saw the smallest little spotted skunk you have ever seen in the middle of the trail.  He chittered at me and climbed the wall and kept chittering.  I guess I am lucky all he did was chitter.

Then on to Bryce.  I have always wanted to hike the Thunder Mountain Trail at Red Canyon so we did.  I am fully confident that I shall never mountain bike it. 

I have also always wanted to hike to the Hat Shop at Bryce.  Every time I have tried something has gone wrong. So we started out from the lodge to hike the three miles to the trailhead, because the trail is only four miles round trip and that is not enough for us overachievers. We got to the trailhead and my sun umbrella had fallen out of the pack, so I ran back the three miles in 30 minutes and found it at the bottom of the first hill. Something did not want me to do this hike, but this time I was determined, so we caught the shuttle bus instead. 

The hike is nice, even some shade, but when we saw the hat shop we both wanted our money back.  I expected something like Mexican Hat, and this was a conglomerate with basalt clasts.  It might have been more impressive had it not been almost 100 degrees by now. Since I had gone to all that trouble to get my umbrella back, I hooked it to my pack for shade, but by the time we got out we were both thrashed from the heat.  

Two difference I noticed from the Canyon.  No runners.  I guess running the length of Bryce is not a social media "thing".  Also, at the Canyon everyone asks how far did you go, who far is it to three mile/the River/Santa Maria, are you going rim-to-rim?  Only one woman asked me where we had started from, and she wanted to know if her group was on the correct loop trail.  As it turns out, no. 
On the fairyland loop

Our trusty MSR fling at Cape Final. 

Sunrise from Cape Final

Sunrise over the navajo nation

Thunder Mountain trail.  Can I buy the tee shirt now? 

I love the Bryce Cabins.  They look like a fairy tale village. 

Hat shop.  Was it worth hiking in 100 degrees?

View from my front porch on the North Rim.  I want a refund. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

First time I have been to Phantom since March, mostly because of the HEAT.  I had the chance for a cabin in August, but met with strong resistance from the other half.  Anyhow, I went down at 6 AM and took plenty of water so I could sit in the shade on the way down.  I knew that I could not check into the room until about 11:30, so why wait down there?

At Cedar a runner told me all he carries is Gu.  He said that the body only needs water to digest food, therefore without food, no one needs water.  Also, he never sweats while hiking the Canyon.  Perhaps because as soon as sweat hits the skin it EVAPORATES?

A new sign at Tim's Hut.  It appears as though one can now access the rainwater collected in the cisterns, which would be nice to wet down a shirt or some such.  However it must be a bit manky after sitting in the sun.  

Tim's Hut

The mules approach

Newly reopened silver bridge

The Big Shade

At The Big Shade ran into Rachael, who told me the Z's love my legos and the books I send them.  She said she and Brian talk about me all the time, and I suggested it was every time they stepped on a Lego.  

Once at the Ranch, there was a long line of rim to rim runners waiting for lemonade.  No beer sold, because their liquor license does not allow carry aways.  But no one was 6 feet apart. So I put my sticks akimbo, and people just stepped over them, saying, "ExCUSE me".  I said, "SIX feet". They would buy post cards and then stand there writing them so they did not have to stand in line again, and one kid wanted the wifi password and would not take no for an answer.  "I have to let my mother know I made it to the bottom safely."  Kid, she needs to know when you make it to the TOP safely.

Showers from 12-2 and 2-4 only so they can clean the showers in between, and we are to spray down with disinfectant before and after. I got in as soon as they unlocked so the showers would be nice and clean.  Dinners served in a big bag with the name on it and taken back to the cabin to eat, or at one of the tables in front.  The trash is given back, 

On the way out I thought I saw someone carrying a bagpipe.  Turned out to be a kayak paddle. which made much more sense.  There were so many hikers I put on my face shield as well as my mask, and when I stepped aside for a couple who were obviously not going to step aside for me, the lady said, in a sugar sweet voice usually reserved for three-year olds: "Oh, look, she has on a face shield".  I guess the Pandemic is over.  

One of my extra water bottles started leaking through the lid, so I hiked out with a wet butt.  I guess as a cooling system, it works better than relying on Gu. 


Sunday, April 19, 2020

My agave just starting to bloom
Something ate it!

I have been watching an agave on the Hermit Trail waiting for it to bloom.  Since our acting Super opened the trails to locals, I scampered down to get a picture.  Something ate it.  Some animal came along and ATE my agave.  

It was a little spooky hiking down the Hermit all alone.  It is a rough enough trail that I was a wee bit nervous about turning an ankle all by my lonesome.  Then I explored the site at the trail junction looking for somewhere that they straightened arrows.  I saw a picture of this somewhere.  Anyhow, I found an old cowboy camp and some more walls, but no rock.  THEN I started thinking that since I was off trail, I might meet a rattler and then what would happen?  

On the way out I met two locals, and then two rangers, so I guess my broken body would not have been lying on the trail for too long before someone tripped over me. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

We went into lockdown three weeks ago.  We could walk and ride bikes on the rim, but not below.  On the 15th, the acting super said locals can hike all the trails except Bass, because you have to cross the Supai Rez, and they are still closed, Marble Canyon, and the North Rim.  So we ran down to see the Redbuds.  

Note to self:  mid March is too early.  Only a few trees had started.  Mid April is too late.  Most of the trees had lost their blossoms and started to leaf out.  The three just below the Redwall were perfect.  
In March we met 300 people on this hike.  Today we saw four locals and one ranger. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

I took the above pictures to demonstrate that people were not social distancing.  It was picked up by National Parks Traveler and went around the world.  I didn't get credit for it, though.  

Because of Covid 19, the hotels are closed, the entrance station, the VC, all shut down. As of today, the corridor trails are closed.

In March we spent four days at Phantom Ranch.  Because of the delay in warning everyone about the virus, we had semi-concerns about infection, but not seriously.  So we gaily passed dishes full of victuals up and down the tables, and talked with hikers from around the world.  Then we got out, hunkered down in the house, and waited for 14 days to see if we had been infected.  So far so good.

Phantom closed last week. The employees are locked away, probably thinking about all the days they were serving people, doing laundry for other people, cleaning the showers, etc.  There is a sign on the door essentially saying "Go away".  

We hiked down last Sunday to Indian Garden to see the Redbuds, thinking the hotels are closed so how many people can there be? 200, as a matter of fact.  And we were out of the Canyon by noon.  Whenever we passed anyone we stepped off the trail and faced away.  Everyone just jogged on by.  Some of them wanted to talk.  "How far to the river?"  "Go away and leave me alone," I grunted.  Then when we got to IG, a guy popped up and said, 

"Do I need a permit to camp here?"
"Of course."
"Well the driver of the Arizona shuttle told me that the Park was open and free, and no permits required, so we hiked down, and last night this rouge ranger appears and bawls us out."
"Which ranger?"
"She was wearing a mask."
Brad and I burst out laughing.  Ranger Betsy always wears a mask for sun protection (I have only seen her once without it) and she is a stickler for the regs.  
"I would listen to the LE ranger, because she is the one with the gun, badge, and citation book. And you should start hiking out so you get out before dark."
We explored the redbuds, and an hour later, he is still there,
Betsy is telling the guy to pack up and leave, and he is telling all the passing hikers that the shuttle driver told me he could stay, and who should he believe?

This group of kids kept passing us (closer than 6 feet) and cutting switchbacks and playing a radio.  They went to the River.  Do not know when they got out.  Social distancing?  Ha!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Since I hurt my foot in January, we have been biking a lot.  Over 1200 miles, actually.  When I did my North rim Sampler, the first night my foot hurt so much I couldn't sleep.  I was thinking: what now?  I have to finish this class, and there is no one available this week to take it over.

This October break I decided I should not do my rim to rim, because if the foot acted up, I would be in trouble.  So we signed up for the White Rim with Western Spirit bikes.  We have done the WR, but one person has to drive, which is no fun, so we might as well let the professionals drive.

Wes and Rob were our fearless leaders.  The forecast was perfect: warm, dry, and moderate. Two days before the trip a cold front moved in. Oops.  First night at Potato Bottom was windy, gale force windy, and cold.  Second night at the Hogback was cold, but no wind.  Third night at the Airport was the coldest, but no wind.  Riding temps were perfect, though. And climbing out Shafer the weather was wonderful.

The other four men on the trip (me, Brad, and four guys) we hot shot road bikers.  I would start out alone at the start of the day, and would be passed in short order.  However, coming out the Shafer, Brad was first and I was second.  Living and training at 7,000 feet, guys. 
Brad at the Black Crack

Flake at the Hog back.  We did put it back where we found it.  

Mussleman Arch.  It said not to walk on the arch: did not say not to ride bikes across. Which we didn't. 

At the top of Shafer.