Day 9 (Fifth Day Of Hike)

Grand Canyon National Park

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May 23, 2006 Bob woke us up around 3:40am. I sprung into action. I got everything put up, and discovered that a rodent had eaten through the food bag, through the trash bag, through the gallon ziplock bag and through the quart ziplock bag to get to the GORP that I had set aside for the day. Not a big hole, and it didn't get much of the GORP. Just annoying. Breakfast was cereal, made with dried milk. Not bad stuff. I might have to pick some of it up so that I'll have it if needed. David and Rachael were ready to leave, so Bob headed off with them. This morning I used my flashlight for the first time in the Canyon. I guess that's what happens when you get up at 3:40. About this time we noticed Bob's two Gatorade bottles sitting on the ground, so I grabbed them and headed up the trail at 4:40am. Fabio followed me and Nick and Lucky followed after that. After a bit, we climbed out of the drainage and started going uphill. I saw the three of them ahead of us at 4:56. Don't know when I caught up with them, but we were going uphill at a pretty good clip. Going uphill is totally different on the body than going downhill. Uphill is definitely more strenuous than downhill, but downhill has a stress factor associated with it. When you go uphill, you just have to fight the muscles to proceed. When you go downhill, you know that if you lose your footing, you might end up in a pile at the end of a thousand foot dropoff. That causes you to be more cautious when going downhill. Anyway, Lucky caught up to me, and I gave him one of the Gatorade bottles. I could actually feel the reduction in weight. Or at least I perceived that I could. Up, up, up and up, and I rounded a corner and saw Lucky sitting there. He didn't know where Bob was at, but Bob's pack was there. After a minute or two we saw Bob coming down the trail carrying a water jug. He had gone ahead and moved the other jugs farther up the hill, and brought the big jug back. The fixed leak hadn't been fixed after all, and the jug only had 0.5 to 0.75 gallons left in it (out of the 2.5 gallons that it holds). Nick arrived. He filled up his Nalgene and I topped off my Camelbak. Bob had totally forgotten about his Gatorade bottles, apparently. He was rather shocked when he realized that he hadn't had them with him when he left the river. Everyone else arrived, we sat for a bit, and then headed up the hill. The second leg went similar to the first. Part of the way up the second leg, I came upon 2 of the water jugs that we had been using all week. This was where Bob had carried them to. I grabbed one of them and left the second for Nick. I could see that Lucky had one up ahead of me, and Bob was so far up there that he wasn't even visible. We got to the rest point, everyone arrived, and I repacked my pack so that the extra water bottle was actually in the backpack, instead of in my hand. We all walked a bit down the trail to an overlook and took a bunch of pictures. It was a scenic spot that had a good view of the river and the north half of the Canyon. We then went back to our packs, got ready to go, and headed uphill once again. This leg had a couple of spots on it where the trail was narrow, but it took us all the way up to our campsite for the night, which is right at the top of the Seventyfive Mile Creek drainage. The last leg didn't actually go up very much in elevation. We got into camp about 9:20am. Another short day. I think we could have gone on up to the rim, but pausing here wasn't a bad thing, either. Everyone else quickly arrived. It was an excellent hiking day. Everyone did very well. I munched on some trail food, and then the group decided to go ahead and eat lunch. Lunch was cheese (from little cheese wheels), beef sticks, and my last two bagels. After that, I took some pictures, and proceeded to find a shady spot to write in the journal. This elevation has a lot of prickly pear cacti. Great opportunity to get some pictures of the purple flowers with Canyon walls in the background. I also spec'd out a spot for a campsite.

Desert View tower is directly in front of me. We are now close enough that I can hear the random person yelling from the rim. We are definitely getting closer to civilization. Over the whole time that we've been in the Canyon, I've probably seen a total of 10 people that weren't river rafters. Kinda sad to be here now. We are still 1,800 foot vertical below the rim, but it sure doesn't look like it. What we do have to climb looks pretty steep, though. It must be all switchbacks, and it apparently goes up very close to Lipan Point.

Few hours later now: I've basically been taking it easy. I've rested under a couple of trees, went to use the orange trowel, and I've now found another tree to sit underneath. This makes the second time I've had to use the orange trowel. I wouldn't call it a fun experience. Rather, a necessary one. I managed to find a spot that was hidden from Desert View, but I'm pretty sure it had a direct line of site to Lipan Point. If anyone was paying close attention... Oh well. T'is done now. Everyone is being lazy. Fabio is walking around, as he often does. We've had a couple of hikers come through came. I actually expected it to be busier (from day hikers). I feel like I'm just below the rim. So close that I can almost reach out and touch it. I know that isn't true. I would estimate that a day hiker would be looking at a 3 hour round trip hike to come down to where we are and back up. (Having done the hike up now, I'd revise that to 2 hours). I guess it just isn't a good time for people to be coming down. I sense that a lot of people don't leave as early as we do of a morning. A couple of guys came through about 12:30pm that were headed down to Tanner Rapids. They were going up New Hance (the exact opposite route that we took) If we had done that route, we would have been coming through here before 7am, I'd guess. Anyway, it looks like Bob is getting ready to hydrate food.

In many ways, it's been a quick 6 days. Well, 5 so far, I guess. I've managed to write a lot more in the journal than anticipated. I'm really looking forward to showering tomorrow. I brought a lot of things with me that I didn't use, or didn't use enough to warrant the weight. Camera stuff, for one thing. The 100-400 lens. I mostly used the 10-22. Filters were great to have. After charging the battery before heading in, I haven't went through another. It's been showing "low" recently, but it is still taking pictures. I used the 28-135 some. It's probably a good second lens to have. The Grand Canyon is an amazing place. I definitely wouldn't mind coming back, and the experience below the rim 100% different than what you get from the rim. Seeing the layers from up close is fascinating. The types of rock.. All distinct at the rim, and they slowly blend together as you get farther down into the Canyon.

The final day in the Canyon is coming to an end. As I was writing the above, Bob called out that "Kirby could play eucher", so I went down and played that for a while. Lucky had problems with a nose bleed. The dry air of the Canyon is hard on the nostrils. After that I ate supper (Turkey and rice, with mixed vegetables, and a Star Crunch for dessert) and laid around watching the dive-bombing birds. A bit of mean talk about squirrels and food bags, and it was time to get ready for bed. We had a reasonable sunset. I took several pictures and got all of my bedding ready to get. Then I just went and sat watching the sunset. The jet contrails flying overhead were turning a nice shade of orange due to the sun. Very peaceful, very magnificent, and I thanked the Lord for getting me through the week safely. It's been quite a ride. One small climb tomorrow morning, and we are out. Then off to Cortez, Colorado and showers.

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