Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Grand Canyon Day 1: Darn Cremation!

wheres my pepto?
This threatens to be one of the longest blogs that I have ever written, so I may have to summarize...otherwise I may miss the rest of the summer trying to finish this thing. In short: it was spectacular! I've done this trip before, going from north to south instead of the south to north direction we did last week, but it still had left me in awe. It is so surreal once you're standing out on top of the rim looking accross and it just never seems to end. It gets even more dramatic as you go down and back up the sides of the canyon--the views are numerous and infinitely beautiful.

pimp my rideWe started in Houston with 6 "expeditioners" (Ross seems to like making fun of my use of this term). By various means, we met up at George Bush and got in line--it was Memorial Day weekend so it was packed. Mo drove Warship and me to the airport and were dropped off on schedule. We were first in the skycap line, but Raymund noticed that the electronic kiosks were relatively lighty used, so we moved there and were almost immediately checked in. All we had to do now was go through security. We all got through and met on the other side almost at the same exact time. I thought it would be interesting traveling with this lot, which included Warship, Caroline, Debs, Raymund, and Ross, since it would most likely be the longest time we've spent together on a trip. Regardless, we all got on the plane and sat in two rows.

wish you were here?One important tidbit to share is that I had contracted some kind of stomach bug the night before and it was kicking my ass. Summarily I had requested the aisle seat for a quick exit should the need arise. Thankfully there were no incidents, but it was to say the least an uncomfortable plane ride. To make things worse, the movie showing on the flight was "Cassanova"...oddly enough I couldn't stop watching. Horrible. Time "flew" and we arrived in Phoenix in no time. We carried, dragged, and kicked our huge duffel bags (carrying our backpacks) over to Avis, where Debs was all the sudden Raymund's "significant other." Well, apparently, it costs extra to have another driver on the contract, unless it is a spouse, etc. I think Ross offered to act as Raymund's spouse. Anyway, no huge hangups here and we were quickly into our 9-person (?) child molester white van. Guess what was our first stop in Phoenix...you get 3 guesses, but only the 1st one counts. Yes, REI. As with every REI that is not located in Houston, the selection was vast. Even the REI in Spokecompton is better and bigger than the ones in Houston. That is sad. Anyway, we picked up some miscellaneous extra gear like cooking fuel and extracted ourselves from there before we made too much damage to our checkbooks.

gear checkWe had lunch at IHOP per my request since my stomach would have a limited range of food it would tolerate. I had the fruit and yogurt plate, which seemed to be okay for my tummy...it was rough though watching everyone else enjoy eggs and pancakes, etc...I LOVE eating, so it was a sad day for me. I cried on the inside. We quickly packed into the van and headed north to the park. It was about a 4hr drive in the unwieldy van. Drove through Flagstaff and eventually got to the park. All happy and giddy we drove up to the gate...greeted rudely by a park ranger with, "what is this?!" Okay, can you be more vague please? This is a van. This is the back of my hand slapping you in the face. Wow, what kind of welcome is that for visitors? Apparently she thought we were some kind of organized tour since we were in the big passenger van. Not a very good ambassador for the park--it really felt like we were crossing a border or something...I was expecting her to ask us to pull over and surrender to a search...of the cavity kind. Anyway, that was not how we wanted our GC experience to start. Oh well, we just laughed it off and all was pretty much forgotten once we got to the view of the rim. Awesome. Words just cannot explain the scenery...and I've been here before! We knew our photos would not do it justice.

Ross, why you lookin at Debs ghetto booty?After a half hour or checking out the views, we headed to the Maswik lodge to check in and drop off our gear before heading to dinner. The room was nice and AIR CONDITIONED...this point will be important later in my story. We got settled then walked back over to the rim to El Tovar...translated: The Tovar. I didn't realize it but when we got there it was a very very proper establishment. The wait was about 2hrs, so we moved on to check out other options. Wait at the Arizona room was about an hr then we went to Bright Angel, where it was only 30mins if that. So we settled for that. My stomach was on somewhat good behavior, so was a little more adventurous this time with my food selection. I had the stew bread bowl which was pretty good.

were readyWe headed back to the lodge and started getting our gear ready. It was the reincarnation of the weight weenie festival--things like toothpaste were being dumped to make packs lighter. I laughed, but I was there too once. When I first started backpacking I didn't want to carry anything deemed unneccessary. But then there were times where I seemed to try and pack as much weight as possible, being a masochist and all. But now, I know pretty much what I need to be comfortable, so I don't stress too much about weight. As long as its at or below 50lbs, I'm good to go. I may dump gear to avoid redundancies, but I won't dwell on it for too long. My body is conditioned to carry that weight. One of these trips I will try to go ultralight for sure...if you wanna go light, you might as well do it right I think. The best part was that two of our crew, to be unmentioned, actually packed solo tents, instead of sharing one light 2 person tent. Funny. I quickly crashed right after fixing up my pack. Then I was abruptly awakened from one of the best sleeps of my life by Deb...something about the AC blowing like a blizzard. I tried to help her out, but the controls on the unit didn't work for some reason. Then I pointed her to the thermoostat on the other side and she charged over there, tapping on the buttons incessantly. Thankfully it worked and we all went to sleep.

don't slipNext morning we got up early. For some reason I thought we were waking up at 430 to get a head start on the hiking. But after my alarm went off, I was informed that breakfast wasn't served until 6 or 630. With grunts we went back to sleep for an hour or so. When we woke up again, we walked over to the main lodge building and had breakfast. I gambled and went for the breakfast burrito. Thankfully no ill effects. Finished breakfast, loaded up the van with our packs, and headed over to the backcountry office. It didn't open until 8 or so, so we decided to just go ahead and take the shuttle bus over to the South Kaibab trailhead. A park ranger boarded the bus and we told her our itinerary and asked about water sources. She said we would have to pack as much as we could because there were no sources until the Colorado. Crap. Good thing I brought an extra nalgene and dasani 50oz bottle. We got to the trailhead and everyone there was staring at us. There was a family of Filipinos. They were whispering something about us, but they were speaking to softly for me to understand. Funny. Took some photos then finally started on our journey down the hole. It was really nice at first because we were still in the shade. We stopped several times to take photos and talk to other hikers.

only the cool hang out at the shitterIt slowly got warmer as we started to lose our cover. Down we went, and reached Skeleton Point. There we met two know-it-all hikers eating there lunch out in the open sun. They were quite pompous and I can't stand people like that, so I didn't want to stay there for long. We finally continued on and I was actually pretty hungry at this point. We walked by a shady cove and stopped to discuss having lunch here. We were apparently taking too long because Weihan exacted the war powers act and said we WERE stopping to eat. Done. As we were eating our tuna, crackers, and cheese, those know it alls walked by and noticed our nice shade. Haha, we're smarter hikers than you. It was a good time to stop because this would be the last shade for a long, long time. We finished up and reloaded and continued on. It was full on hot now. No cover, no shade, anywhere. We were getting zapped of energy pretty quickly. I looked at the map and according to it, we would be coming up to a pit toilet within about 150-200meters. Around the bend and bingo! There it was. I was ready for some shade. We hit the pit toilet. I went in and noticed that someone deposited a nice packaged present right NEXT to the toilet, not in it. They obviously did that on purpose because it was way in the corner and it wasn't like they "missed" the toilet. Nice. I did my business and quickly got out of there. We then took shelter underneath the pit toilet since it was the only piece of shade in any visible direction. Sadly, this would be where we stayed for the next 3hrs or so. We didn't want to leave because our primitive campsite in the Cremation section was a barren wasteland of nothingness. We napped. People came and went. A couple of women we saw earlier along the trail a couple of times joined us under the shitter. One of them asked what was this right behind her that she was leaning against. Well, we told her obviously that was where the feces went. She laughed uncontrollably and realized the obvious. It was funny. We napped some more.

emergency water recoveryFinally, for some reason, someone decided that we should go and set up our tents and head down to the Colorado to get some water since we were running pretty low. I was very skeptical about this tactical maneuver because I knew it would be rough coming back up, but I couldn't argue againts our need for water. We probably would only have enough to either cook or drink but not both if we didnt go to replenish our stores. So we humped it over about 150m to the east to a dry creekbed and set up camp. It was not the ideal location, but it was a nice location, view-wise. We then dropped our gear and brought all water-carrying vessels with us. We proceeded down the steep, knee-jarring steps and I was thinking to myself the whole time, "this is gonna suck going back up." After 2-3 miles of dusty trail we made it down to the black bridge and the Colorado River. We headed to the shore in hopes to take a quick refreshing dip. What we didn't know is that the water of the Colorado was coming out of the dam at the BOTTOM of Lake Powell. As a result, the water was at a bone-chilling 45degrees! Okay, I've been to Glacier numerous times and was able to wade in the glacier-fed lakes and streams, but for some reason I could not take this water. It was probably because the temperature gradient was large (100+deg air temp vs. 45deg water temp). Finally I took a quick sprint through the river and the rest of the group thought I was crazy. We filtered water with a nice accompaniment of a soothing flutist right by the water (what ambiance?!).

rei yoga poseWe were done in no time and packed up for the arduous trip back up the switchbacks. Ugh. Up we went and we were feeling it, especially the ones carrying the one big pack holding several nalgenes and hydration bladders. I had my fanny pack filled with a 100oz bladder, nalgene, and the 50oz dasani bottle, pushing the intended capacity of the pack. Up, up, up...finally, we saw the wirelines for the emergency phone at the Tipoff, where the shitter shelter was. Thank goodness. We got back to camp pretty weary and we actually used up a good portion of the water we lugged back up the hill...but we did still have enough for cooking and drinking until the next day. We made dinner, watched the stars (shooting and otherwise) and satellites go by then we bedded down. It was pretty warm at the beginning of the night, but it got cool quickly thereafter. I had a somewhat fitful sleep because I kept running into a rock that was lying right next to my head. Even so, I was able to sleep for a short while to recharge. I was looking forward to Bright Angel and its shade and cool waters....


Blogger Pete said...

Nice Blog -

I hike the Grand Canyon all the time though in the winter!!! Have a safe trip!


11:42 AM


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