Friday, May 20, 2011

The Innocent Visitor

So, I told this innocent visitor that I would include him in my blog and it turned into a whole story...(most of it true). I have a dear friend that I spent a summer in Glacier with named Jake. Jake is a happy, nomadic traveler who absolutely insists on enjoying life. He his currently in Alaska chasing caribou and bears.

One day I get a message from someone I have never heard of before named Bill. He tells me that he is good friends with Jake and has always wanted to visit Grand Canyon. As fate would have it he was traveling from Washington DC to the park within the next two days. Jake had given him my information saying, "Oh, I have a friend that works there." So of course being the nice person that I am I agreed to give him some tips and get him oriented.

This started with a phone call to the headquarters desk. "Hi Addie, this is Bill, Jakes friend." I gathered information in my head so that I wouid have suggestions for him. Bill then said, "I driving up from Phoenix right now and thinnk Im going to stay at Mather Campround tonight and at Phantom Ranch tomorrow night becasue I do want to hike to the bottom. What do you think...sound like a good idea?" My response was, "That sounds terrific but you can't do any of that."

Mather Campground ususally books up early and you need a permit to hike to the bottom and camp and thats if you can find an opening. Phantom Ranch can book up as early as 13 months in advance. Im starting to wonder what kind of individual jake sent to me looking for help. Bill arrives at Headquarters while I'm still working and help him get a feel for what he wants to do. He did say that he wanted to do a hike down to the bottom. I was a little skeptical especially when he told me he had just purchased all of his gear from REI in Phoenix before driving up. Since hiking to the bottom and back in not recommended there was no way I was going to suggest that someone coming from sea level to attempt it either. But determind to hike I told him that Chrisitine and I were hiking the Tonto Loop the next day and he was welcome to tag along (insert evil laugh).

Getting ready to hike I look at Bill...he is wearing brand new Keens (sandals). I asked if he had sneakers byt he said no and that these were comfortable. I could see multiple blisters in his future. The loop that we took starts from the South Kaibab Trailhead, decends 5 miles, meets up with the Tonto trail. We were going to follow the Tonto for about 4.5 miles and then we planned to come up Bright Angel Trail from Indian Garden. 15 miles total. This was not Bill's hike to the river as he had dreamed of but a close second that I though he could do...probably.

I told Jake where we were going and he replied with, " Oh dear...hahahaha. He's going to die!" This did not instill much confidence. We left around 7:30 and drove Christine's car to the Bright Angel Trailhead and then all rode in my car to South Kaibab and just planned to take Christines car in order to pick my car up when we got out that afternoon. We started down the trail, filling Bills head with the idea that he was now one of the elite 5% that ventures into the canyon.

We were crusin and made it down to Tip Off point where we were going to meet the Tonto trail in just over 2 hours. We continuously stopped to take pictures (mostly Bill) but made good time. It was here that Bill had to nurse the first of his blisters. his sandals were stained red as he dumped the rocks out of his shoes. I think the pain started to set in about half way across the tonto trail so we kept glancing back to make sure that he was still with us.


Christine on the Tonto Trail (west)


Looking down on the inner gorge

By the time we reached Indian Garden at 1 pm we only had about 4.5 miles to hike out. But this last stretch I new was going to be the worst as I watch Bill rub his feet. We stopped for a leisurly lunch giving feet and blisters time to breath and rest. Heading up the trail Bill starts to slow. The elevation was not really apparent until now. Usually coming up I can top out in a couple of hours but we took our time and waited at the rest houses for a bit and we would eventually see Bill making his was up slowly stopping a resting frequently. He kept saying that he didnt think he had ever been this out of breath. The true canyon experience right there! Canyon cough and all.

At one point Christine and I got a good distance ahead and stopped at 1.5 mile rest house. It was then she suddenly stopped looked off and said, "OH NO!" I though that she had seen someone fall or looked over and saw Bill down below panting on the ground crawling. That would have made the story more intersting but no...She had come to the sickening realization that the keys to her vehicle that we planned on driving out were sitting on the passengerseat of my car all the way back at the South Kaibab trailhead.

So up the trail we ran topping out at about 5. We called Kristi to pick us up and drive us to my car. She agreed after snickering and giving us a hard time. After the retrieval we waited back at the trailhead for Bill who made the epic climb out of the canyon at 6:30. Tired, in pain, and sporting the "canyon shuffle" he triumphed in sandals and said that it was amazing but "dang!" I could help smiling and finding the situation humorous but I was also impressed and shock that he succeed with the gear that he had. It was now time for beer and homemade mac n cheese.

I guess the moral of this story is if you pawn your friends off on me. This is what I will do to them.
Bill if you end up reading this somehow I know you wont take any of this personally. I know this because of all of the "thats what she said" comments you threw at us for 9 hours...you trully are Jakes friend.


Cactus Flowers in bloom

1 comment:

Nathan King said...

I did the Canyon Shuffle for five days after my overnight trip.