November 22, 2009

The Granddaddy- Part 4

“The whole value of solitude depends upon one's self; it may be a sanctuary or a prison, a haven of repose or a place of punishment, a heaven or a hell, as we ourselves make it”
-John Lubbock

Monday, Day 3- 10 miles, shore of Colorado River

I woke up before first light and quickly hiked up to the Nankoweap Granaries. I left all of my gear at my beachside camp to pack up later and just took myself and my camera. The ruins are really quite amazing for many reasons:

1. They are still intact and standing after hundreds of years.
2. The view is just spectacular
3. To think that someone actually lived down hear: It is so beautiful and peaceful.
4. Remote. It is really difficult to get to: 14 strenuous miles and 6000 vertical feet hiking one way or a multi-day rafting trip.

After hiking the ruins, I began the hike. I was feeling pretty rested and I expected this day to be relatively relaxed. On paper, the route appeared to be 9 river miles and flat. However, there is no trail along the shore of the Colorado River so the route is a bushwhack. There are some deer trails to follow but for the most part it is a combination of beach/sandy walking, scrambling over rocks, and pressing through thick brush. It beat me up badly.

I took time mid day to go swimming/shower in the Colorado even though it was chilly outside. I had to. I wasn’t about to spend a week in the Grand Canyon and not swim in the Mighty Colorado River. The water was absolutely freezing. My heart almost stopped and breathing became erratic as soon as I jumped in. I was told later that the water temperature is 48 degrees at Lees Ferry and increases temperature 1 degree every 20 miles. I was at mile 60 so the water temperature is approximately 51 degrees.

I finally made it into my camp at around 3:30 after the most difficult 9 or 10 miles of my life. I was discouraged. I thought it would be easy. I was wrong.

As I lay in bed that evening under a starry evening and a bright moon, I thought about life outside of the canyon for the first time since starting the journey 3 days before. I wasn’t thinking about hot showers, steak dinners, a cozy bed, or any other creature comfort, instead I thought about loved ones and questioned the purpose of the trip. I wrote in my journal, “The trip couldn’t have ended after day two and I would have already had my adventure fix. To think that I covered more ground, saw more of this wonderful canyon in two days than most people will ever see.”  I contemplated options for shortening the trip so I could get back sooner. I was tired, scraped up, and lonely. I was at a low point in the trip.

Me looking down river from the Nankoweap Ruins

Bushwacking it along the Colorado River

ICE- Taking a dip in the freezing cold water mid day

Tuesday, Day 4- Wait for boat, no miles

Video taken from my island retreat.  I stayed here for 45 hours.

I slept in as late as I could today…8am. I knew I would be waiting for until about noon for a boat. I slowly peeled myself out of bed into the chilly, windy morning air and fired up the stove. I made some tea and ate some trail mix. I explored the surrounding area to warm up. And then I just hung out. My body needed a rest. It was good for me.

Why not swim? Too cold (51 deg), temps in the 40's, 30 mph winds, fast moving water, weak swimmer, alone, people die trying

Why not continue the bushwhack along River? Very Difficult hiking, had enough already, not on itinerary, not much to gain by doing this.

Why not turn around? And go where? 60 miles back to the only bridge across river

Why not build a raft? haha, actually thought about this, plenty of wood, nothing else to do, drew up plans, not that much rope, rapids about 100 yards down river, Rafters came just as I started gathering wood, Saved by the bell...Haha.

I really analyzed all options and the only choice, the best choice, was to wait for a boat. I was told by numerous reliable sources that at least one rafting party per day leaves Lees Ferry. I geuss this was the only day, the day that i needed to cross the river, that no rafters came through.

While eating dinner more doubts and questions stirred up in my mind. What am I doing out here? Why didn’t I plan this better? Why did I choose this Route. I just wanted to get across that stupid river and get moving. I was getting very anxious. I wanted to get home as soon as possible. But then I thought about it… What is at home? Pseudo obligations: bills, cleaning, oil changes, doctor/dentist/eye appointments, or re-apply for annual memberships. All this stuff that doesn’t directly add to my enjoyment in life but must be done because I have a job, car, and apartment. However, out there in the Canyon I was free from all of it. I was actually living. So for the rest of the trip I was in good spirits and savored every grand moment. This is my vacation, my time to get away. Why should I be anxious? I should enjoy this and relax. I am in the Grand Canyon. 

My camp for 2 nights.  I stacked some logs up to protect me from the wind and sand blasting at night.  There was sand everywhere.


  1. sounds like a wonderful and difficult hike. I like all the pictures of yourself. You're like Suvivor Man.

  2. i didnt think the canyon was pretty enough. thats why i took so many pics of myself.