Day 8 (Fourth Day Of Hike)

Grand Canyon National Park

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May 22, 2006 When I woke up, it was still well clouded over. It was before sunrise, and Bob had yet come through the camp softly calling out, "Time To Get Up...". I watched the sun slowly light up the sky, and managed to get a couple of pics when things were nice and orange. Bob boiled water this morning and we had oatmeal for breakfast. Good stuff, that oatmeal.

We got out of camp around 6am, I think, and we stopped once along the trail next to a very impressive rapid. I took quite a few pics there. At one point the water crashed down several feet and the turmoil was very obvious. It was a nice place to sit, take pictures, and be generally lazy. We stayed there for about 30 minutes or so. At this stop, I realized that Nick's camera used Compact Flash. He had been nursing some almost dead batteries for most of the Canyon trip and had about run out of memory space. So, I let him borrow one of my CF cards. This area was good for picture taking. There was some stuff that looked just like concrete that was hold the rocks together in one area. Once everyone had rested up there we headed on out and arrived at our camp for the night. We were really only hiking for a couple of hours total. Very short day. We were able to actually stay pretty close to the river for this day's hike. We just went up and down across the little gullies and washes. Really, days 2, 3, and 4 have been pretty easy. Tomorrow will be the fun day. Today's hike had very little sun. It was cloudy most of the way, and it still is. This particular walk has a bad name associated with it if the sun is out. I can't recall exactly what the name is, but it has a reputation as being hot. I can see how it would be. From 6am when we started walking the sun was on us (or would have been if the clouds hadn't been cooperating). The entire time we would have been walking directly into the sun. But, with the clouds, it worked out great.

The camp site we are now at, Tanner Rapids, actually has a toilet. If you are at one of the higher-use places in the Canyon that actually has a toilet, you have to use it. No option. No orange trowel tonight. The toilet will also accept toilet paper. From Tanner Wash (which we'll be walking up tomorrow) you can see the tower at Desert View (70 feet high) on the rim. Actually, I'm sitting close to the wash now, and I can see it from where I'm sitting right now. 70 feet doesn't make a very big tower when you are seeing it from as far away as we are. Right now, people are reading (books), writing (books or postcards), or studying (CPA material). Fabio might be off looking for interesting rocks. He's been the prospector of the group on the trip. I don't really blame him. There are some amazing specimens down here. Any geologist that is worth his salt should plan some time in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It's got to be a geologist's dream. The variety of rock that is here is simply astounding. It's just really bizarre to have everything in one spot. The views are incredible. Every once and a while I see a wall that completely reminds me of Zion Park. I've seen colored walls that have reminded me of Bryce Canyon. No hoodoos in the quantity that Bryce has, but still rather amazing. If you're willing and able to get down in the Canyon, you get a totally different view than you get from above the rim.

I'm right next to Tanner Rapids, with a rock wall a few hundred feet high right on the other side of the river. While ago, I saw a guy talking to David and Rachael while they were filtering water. He has on a pair of green shirts (looked like boxers) and was holding a walking stick. Come to find out, he was the guy at the general store that had told them how hard New Hance trail was. When I was looking for the toilet later I chatted with him for a bit. Said he came down into the Canyon every Sunday and Monday. He knows the rangers, so they tell him what trails have permits available and that's where he goes down. He had done New Hance just last week. Tanner this week. He mentioned that there was a place under a cliff edge up the wash a bit that would provide protection in the event of a rain. I guess he'll head up Tanner later today sometime. He mentioned 2 girls and a guy that were coming in from the East. One of the girls wasn't doing well, apparently.

I went up one of the trails with Nick a little ways. Got to a large rock and climbed upon it to get some photos. You could see farther upstream where some rafters were pulled off checking out the Tanner rapids. Also a great view of the Palisades, Tanner wash, and the whole area. Nick mentioned that he had seen the trio and they were doing OK. We then walked a little ways up to where Tanner Trail drops into the wash from the east.

The wind has really been whipping along. It's quite cool down by the river. I've been drinking a bunch of Koolaid today. I'm trying to get myself totally hydrated for the trip out tomorrow. Koolaid probably isn't quite as good as plain old water, but it tastes pretty good to me today. Bob had put several packets of Koolaid in our personal food bags, and I hadn't drunk any until today, so I decided to enjoy a couple of quarts. There are squirrels around here. I will have to hang the food bag tonight. It might possibly rain. Hard to say... Washed my clothes. They've started talking about what we are going to do for lunch. Freaky getting in so early in the day.

We had peanut butter and jelly for lunch. I think we might have used the last of the peanut butter (which I was carrying). It got really windy there for a bit (and still is pretty windy).

The wind stopped for a little while, the sun came out, and it was instantly hot. The type weather that made you want to hop in the river for a few seconds. The clouds are now back, the wind is picking up, and it has cooled back down. After visiting the ultra-modern toilet and taking a brief nap, I took a few pictures. Got a raven pretty close up with the 400mm lens. Also took some 400mm shots of the desert view tower. Now I'm sitting down by the river waiting for a raft to go by. I want to get some pics of it. Rafting here is something else. All the customers just sit in the boat and do nothing. The guide just drives the boat downstream using the outboard motors on the back of the the thing. No skill, energy, or otherwise required on the part of the customer. I have seen some smaller rafts go through where the people were actually paddling, so I can't make completely blanket statements about all rafters.

At about 1pm, Bob and Lucky headed up the trail to cache some water. They said that they didn't know how far they would go. They took about 4.5 gallons of water with them. The 2.5 gallon container had sprung a bit of a leak, and they had used some slick tape to patch it up with. Hopefully it holds. Nick is off studying, and Fabio, David, and Rachael are reading or milling about. I really haven't thought about work at all this week. I've thought about Melvin, but there isn't much I can do about that. I just threw a stick in the water. It's amazing how fast it goes downstream. A human would be in a world of hurt with the water temperatures and the speed of the river. Wind is a freaky thing in the Canyon. You might not think that the wind would get "down" this far, but it definitely does. And quite wildly at times. For a while this afternoon I actually put the zip-off pants back on my shorts. I could have done without, but anyway...

About 4:30 Bob and Lucky got back. They said that they had gone 3-4 miles up the trail. We had a few drops of rain about 4:20. The wind had been blowing like mad, and it just rained for a second or two. It had been looking like it could all day, so I'm not surprised. After that, Bob started working on supper. I watched David, Rachael, Lucky and Nick learn and play Eucher (the card game). It's kind of like Spades, but not really. Trump can change, and trump has more power than it does in Spades.

Dinner was potatoes, cheese, and beef, with corn on the side. Another good meal. Fudge Rounds for dessert. I took dish washing duty. Normally, after sand cleaning, you rinse the dish off with filtered water, and it is ready to go for the next meal. But, we were still filtering water, so I didn't bother with that step. Not long after dinner, people started getting ready for bed. I was in bed before sunset. There wasn't much of a sunset, so no pics were taken. I've been wearing my day's clothes to bed and changing into new clothes the subsequent morning. Tonight I changed before bed so that I could wash today's clothes and be able to wear them on day 6 (since day 5 is a dry camp day). So, I put the clothes on a tree to dry and next to that I hung my food bag. Rodents haven't been too much of a problem at the other camps, but Nick had some squirrel problems earlier today. A squirrel chewed through the side of his cup holder, through his food bag, and made a general nuisance of himself. He also worked over a mini attache case thing that Nick had. Nick mentioned drop kicking the squirrel into the river if the opportunity presented itself. Anyway, the past few days I've been preparing food for the next day's hike and hung the food bag. Each day I've been setting aside some GORP in a quart ziplock bag, a couple of granola bars, etc. and putting them in a gallon bag that I put in my food bag. That way I don't have to do all of that work in the morning. It saves me a few minutes. We also left the water filter out so that we could top everything off in the morning. I popped a small blister on the end of the middle toe on my right foot. Drained it out, and it should be fine. It was cool for sleeping. I got in the sleeping bag before going to bed (first time doing that in the Canyon).

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