Thursday, Feb. 22 On a whim I decided to see the Grand Canyon. A tour bus took me directly to the canyon in about 3 hours. Travelled along Route 66 through a few towns and saw how some people really, really need to live completely away from it all. But, to live completely away from it all, you need to be sure to have a big plastic tub and a vehicle to truck in the water from somewhere else. It's a tough life but solitude, quiet and privacy are your smog, traffic and congestion in these places. Made it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon by afternoon, got a nice cheap room and was floored by what I saw. I can't describe it in words or in pictures. You must see it for yourself to appreciate the Grand Canyon. I received a few birthday wishes on my cell phone which worked amazingly enough here. I even have Internet connection. However, the invisible technology blended well with the overall philosophy of the canyon caretakers to insure this place is kept as natural as possible. The top of the Grand Canyon has it all in my book, I plan on coming back here again. Tomorrow, hiking down to the Colorado to spend the night. Wish me luck.
Friday, Feb. 23 Awoke to snow! Snow, just like in Seattle! I'm beginning to get peeved at snow! It's the Californian in me, I guess. Had a nice breakfast and headed for my hike down the Kaibab trail to Phanton Ranch along the Colorado river. 4-5 hours they say down very strenous and steep trails. The top of the rim was of course icy and slippery from the evening's snow fall but after a mile it soon turned into good sturdy footing. I didn't see ANYONE on the trail for a long time and felt completely along deep within the canyon. Along with my two-person tent, sleeping bag and clothing, I also carried my digital camera, CD player and a bottle of 100% Southern Comfort. I tell you there is nothing like listening to Satie and drinking booze while hiking through the inner gorge in 60 degree weather. I didn't drink any water at all the whole way down! I did meet some very nice people and we shared where we came from. I stopped to see incredible sites and was pulverized by the profound beauty all around me. It was like gazing into the eyes of a profound love. Finally made it to the bottom and saw the ruins of the Anasazi (ancestors to the Hopi) and soaked my feet in the cool,cool Bright Angel stream flowing into the Colorado (meaning "The Color Red" because of the red sentiment that USED to flow into her. Modern man now prevents that from happening and the river is now green. Shouldn't they call it Coloverde?) It must have been quite a site for those early pioneers to come to the canyon and see this blood red river cutting through the center of it. Anyway, I lucked out again. After I pitched my tent, I headed to the only place to eat at Phantom Ranch (named after the spirit that would rise up from the deep, deep ground). I learned that you had to make a reservation, to eat the only steak dinner provided that night for 30 or so people staying at the lodges, 2 years in advance!! Turns out there was one cancellation and they let me stay and eat a nice juicy steak complete with 'fixins' with them. I even had a nice glass of merlot with my meal and thought that my luck is inherited from my father. I ate well and hiked a bit to survery the valley and came to appreciate the profound quiet and beauty all around me. Getting up early to head back up tomorrow. Good night!
Saturday, Feb. 24 The quietness is all you awaken to along the Colorado river. That and a bit of sunshine. A nice brisk Sat. morning down in the inner gorge propelled me to take on the 10 mile hike up the canyon back to Bright Angel. As I was packing up my stuff to head to the Ranch for a quick breakfast, I noticed that some critter had robbed me of my muffin I had so secretly hidden in my backpack hanging high outside on the camp pole. Crafty critters! I grabbed a quick meal and coffee and bounded on the new trail, the Bright Angel trail which they say takes 9 hours to complete. I scoffed at this but soon realized that carrying a two- person tent, sleeping bag and various clothing is not a simple thing to do going up. There is this wonderful and confounding thing called GRAVITY. Gotta love it. Anyway, the day was beautiful and I've seen huge, looming rock formations as I walk along the creek towards one of the rest areas. Very few people on the trail. I passed by a few people I met during steak dinner the night before. Hopefully, the pictures provided can give you some sense of what it was like. I took several short, short breaks but found my legs were shaking after 3.5 hours. A nice long break cured that and I found myself enjoying the snacks of pretzels and grape jelly. "Heaven!", I would say as I ate and peered at the magnificent views. I finally made it to the top of the rim after 6.5 hours and still had some energy to spare but my legs cried, "hot bath George or I'm going to kick your ass!" I kindly granted their wish. Discarding the dusty, sweaty close and climbing into the hot bath made me feel a little bit like a character out of a Sergio Leone western. Except, I had no gun to fend off the irate whore or the vengeful gunslinger. Good night.
Sunday, Feb. 25 Awoke this morning to find me legs were not that sore from the hike. Believe it or not, the 2 hours I spent playing flag football with the rowdys at GG park provided days of soreness that the 16 mile trek through the canyon do not seem to evoke. It's cold and SNOWY at the southern rim today. I'll take a little walk, check my email and then hop on a bus to Flagstaff, Arizona. I'll have to spend the night there since there is no connection I could take directly to Phoenix. Overall, the Grand Canyon is a highlight without compare. Some of the tourists were very interested in my two-day hiking journey and seemed to think I knew EVERYTHING about the area. Little did they know that I crashed the nature party and had a blast. I will come back here again perhaps with a nephew or two. I took one final glance at the great canyon as if looking deeply into the eyes of the earth and she stared back at me in waves of meaning I could not convey to you. See you in Phoenix