Day 10 (Sixth Day Of Hike)

Grand Canyon National Park

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May 24, 2006 I don't know when I got up. The eastern sky was starting to light up. I got things together, ate a poptart (no clue what flavor it was) and headed out at 4:47am. The trail started with some pretty good rocks to climb over and around. The trail really tried to take it out of me. The last half of the trail or so contained longer, kinder switchbacks. Lucky and myself arrived at where Bob was waiting at the top at 6:00am. Bob took some pictures of us, and then he left to get the van. Nick followed 10 minutes later. I said congratulations to him and he just walked on by. A minute or so later he commented that he was a bit winded after the climb. I guess asthma will do that to a guy. The others arrived. I took pictures. Fabio, then David and Rachael. As I was waiting, I heard an automobile. First one I had heard in almost a week. We then walked on up to the road, a couple hundred more yards. Bob was just arriving with a bike. Someone had left a bike there near the sign, so Bob borrowed it to bike the seven miles to pick up the van. Then he brought both back. We took some pictures near the Tanner trailhead sign, and then walked up to Lipan Point. We took a full group photo there and looked around at the view to see where we had hiked. We dumped all of our trash from the bags, packed them up, and got into the van after switching into shirts that were "clean or almost clean". From Lipan Point, we rode to Desert View tower. As I started to take pictures the camera battery went dead. Oh well. We looked at the tower, and Bob pointed out some of the paths that we had gone on. Everything looks so small from so far away. On day 4 we spent the day staring at a huge rock wall, but from the rim it looks very, very small. The other thing I noticed is how insignificant our trail looks in relation to the whole thing. We covered a fair amount of ground, but the Grand Canyon is simply huge. After that, we hit the restroom and I washed my hands, arms and face. From there to the gift shops (They were near opening at 8am. Nick made it his goal to try the doors to see if they would let us in earlier. It didn't work) We got in, and I found a Take A Hike shirt in the second store that I bought. I thought about buying an ice cream, but decided to pass. I think I've gained weight on the trip anyway. (Note: I weighed 2 pounds more when I got back than when I left)

From Desert View we left the park and are now driving across Navajo land. The socio-economic situation of the Indians is sobering. More trailers than anything else. Cars on blocks... Things generally look unkept. No trees to hide things, either. The messy space is there on parade. As expected, vendor stands are all along the roadside. We passed the canyon for the Little Colorado river. Not a bad looking canyon in spots. We are now headed northeast towards the Four Corners area. We passed a sign while ago that said "XXXXX for President". Made me think that the Navajo nation probably has their own president. I hadn't ever thought about it before. We just passed some hills that reminded me of the badlands, without the colors. Just passed a house with a large solar cell out front. Reminds me that a lot of these houses have no electricity. In Tuba City we passed a very large pedestrian bridge over our 2 lane highway. I can't help but wonder if building that pedestrian bridge was the best use of cash for this obviously poor area.

I feel like we did this as a group. It has been a terrific accomplishment. We fought the Canyon... and.. we won. I wonder how much snow this area sees. It's freaky seeing these abandoned buildings, totally in the middle of nowhere, covered with graffiti. Lucky keeps telling us that good graffiti artists are amazing to see, but the graffiti we've been seeing doesn't make things look better; it makes them look worse. Same for the concrete on a railroad bridge a ways off the highway.

Just passed Peabody Coal at Black Mesa. Probably a mile trail down off the side of the hill going down to 3 silos near the train tracks.

Drove by the turnoff to Monument Valley at Kayenta. We could see a couple of minor monuments, but nothing special. I've seen several signs pointing to Baptist churches here in Navajo nation.

Went by Four Corners. We didn't actually go in. We are driving by Mesa Verde right now. I didn't have a clue what Mesa Verde was when I was out here a couple of years ago. We've been driving by it for miles now. It's just.. right.. there. The fields around Cortez are being irrigated. Everything is nice and green. I wonder if Colorado residents have more water rights than people in other states. Things were very bleak right until we came into Colorado, and now things are green. I like Colorado, but that doesn't go so far as to make me think that things are just automatically greener. There's something going on.

Got into Cortez. Drove through town and stopped at the Pizza Hut. I ate four plates of salad, and a quarter of a large thin pizza. I was quite full after that. A couple of guys got ice cream at the Diary Queen next door. After leaving Cortez we went to Mesa Verde. After paying the entrance fee, we drove for another 15-20 miles before we actually got to anything relevant to the ruins. Mesa Verde has experienced a couple of large fires over the past decade or so, and this was quite obvious once we climbed up on top of the mesa. Definitely had that "this burned a few years back" feel to it. We didn't spend a lot of time on the Mesa. We stopped at the Museum first and then went down to Spruce Tree House. I saw a Yucca plant in bloom on the way down to the Tree House. I got some pictures of the House. I then went up and watched part of a movie that was talking about the history of Mesa Verde. I didn't have time to watch all of it before we were supposed to be back at the van. It was a pretty interesting video. It talked about how the original inhabitants came to be in the area, how trading played such a large role in their existence, and more. We then drove around a bit more of the park. We went by quite a few places that we didn't stop, and a couple where we did, including Cliff Palace. We stopped on the way off the Mesa and Nick took a couple of pictures of the mountains to the north. Mesa Verde strikes me as the type of National Park that needs to be a park. It needs to be preserved. However, it isn't the type of park that is going to have widespread general appeal. It's nice to go there and see the ruins. Quite impressive. But it isn't the type of park that most people are going to want to spend days and days at.

Now we are headed to the Durango KOA. It happens to be the same one I stayed at a couple of years ago. -- In the San Juan Mountains now. They are pretty. -- Got to Durango. It's something how fast the land changes. Once you get past Cortez, you quickly get into green and hills, and then mountains. Durango is pretty nice. All of the standard shopping places that you would expect. Kayaking in the river... We stopped at a Supercenter while Bob gassed up the van. Lucky and myself got a rotisserie chicken and bread. I got apples, peanut butter, and some nutrition bars. From there we went to the Durango East KOA. We got there, unpacked stuff, and then took a nice long shower. It felt quite good. It's amazing how nice a shower can feel after you haven't showered for a week. I'm sure that everyone around us appreciated the fact that we had taken a shower as well. Then went and ate chicken and bread by the swimming pool. We didn't really have time to actually swim. I had put on my swimming trunks, but they came and locked up the pool while we were still eating. I called home, and talked to the parents for a while and got caught up on the latest. Melvin is still alive. At that point it was getting dark, so we headed back to the campsite and set up beds. Bob had declared that it had to be quiet around the campsite so that he could sleep. He said we could stay up if we wanted, but he wanted it quiet so that he could sleep. None of us were exactly in the mood to pull an all nighter, but Bob had mentioned that there was a good view from the second floor of the satellite bathrooms, so David, Rachael, and myself went up there. At the same time, I was planning to throw away the group trashbag that had formed. While we didn't find any trash dumpsters there, the view was nice. You could see the lights of Durango and the mountains on the other side of the river. After that I went to the front of the KOA, dumped the trash in the dumpster, and went to bed. I put on the fleece and the stocking cap, since we clearly weren't in the bowels of the Canyon anymore. It got pretty cold, but wasn't bad in the sleeping bag. I only woke up once, which, I think, is a new record.

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