19 Miles and Counting

27 September 2012 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


Hoodoo BeamsAfter tacking on the mileage yesterday we were both in the need of a little rest. Still we awoke early and packed up camp heading northeast to Bryce Canyon. We arrived in the morning as the crowds common to this park began to accumulate.

Taking in a grand view we walked the rim trail peering down on the cathedrals of red rock spires this incorrectly named “canyon” holds. From the tightly clustered, uniformly shaped pillars near the rim to the scattered shapes of an ancient sea bed recently drained. But that is just how it appears in my imagination the true sculptor here is temperature change. It’s water seeping into crevasses, then freezing, then thawing all the time, over millions of years, slowly stripping away a little rock at a time.

Bryce Canyon National ParkWhile Bryce Canyon is one of the busy parks, you can easily escape the people by taking a few steps away from any of the many viewpoints. Most of us—us being humans—are creatures of convenience and when presented with a half mile walk to the next viewpoint or a drive or shuttle ride most will instinctively choose to expend as little energy as possible. So Mickey and I were free to wandered along the rim talking about religion, ethics and morality. We ended up getting so caught up in conversation that we became unaware of the distance we had covered and found ourselves far from food when our stomachs asked for lunch.

After lunch we decided we had seen enough of Bryce Canyon and we should proceed to the Grand Canyon. On the way I made a quick stop at the Forestry Service’s office, after the suggestion of a friend, and picked up a map of the Forest Service roads. It is perhaps the best $10 I’ve ever spent, but more on that in a minute.

Welcome to the Grand CanyonNeither Lindsay or I had been back to the North Rim since our volunteer gig ended last season. It had almost been a year and I was eager to see all of our friends. Nancy, a retired school teacher and lovely lady greeted me at the entrance with a smile. Proceeding in I was happy to find Val visiting his wife Susan at the campground office. And after a nice chat with them I wandered down to say hi to Clint and Louis our fellow campground hosts from the previous season. It’s really been wonderful for Lindsay and me to meet and develop friendships with such great people. We feel like we’re making connections across the country that will last a lifetime.

After a stop at the lodge and Mickey’s first view of the Grand Canyon we broke out my new map and left the paved road. Unlike the roads on the BLM land near us and the Forest Service roads of northern California we had explored the Coconino National Forest roads were quite exquisite. I was able to maintain an average speed of 35 mph and in no time we arrived at one of the most amazing campsites I’ve ever seen.

Sunset at the Grand CanyonAt a dead end we found ourselves at the edge of the rim of the Grand Canyon. The view was beyond amazing. I would have paid $100 to camp here, but it was completely free of charge. It was also free of people. There was not another living soul or sign of another living soul anywhere to be seen. It was pure, clean, remote and peaceful. With chairs set out and supper on the single burner camp stove we watched the birds snatch up the evenings bugs and the sun slowly nestle itself into the horizon.

It was in this peaceful place and frame of mind that we entered a sleepless and unsettling night. My plan was to sleep on the rim. There was a perfect spot just below the rim and I set up my tarp, pad, and sleeping bag. But the wildlife was a little too wild. Thoughts of mountain lions tainted my utopian site as dark clouds threatened rain and worse, lightning. I soon had worked my mind into a fevered frenzy of irrational thoughts and retired to join Mickey in the tent. Then came the thunder. And Mickey retired to the back of the truck. In my stubborn, ashamed state of fear I planned to tough it out in the tent. But soon imagined thoughts of lightning and the reality of distant thunder conspired and sent me to the truck as well.

That night neither of us slept much. With the windows up it was too hot. Roll anything down and it would begin to rain. But that’s roughing it.

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27 September 2012 Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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