December 6, 2009

The Granddaddy- Part 5

Such a fire will keep all night, with very little replenishing; and it makes a very sociable camp-fire, and one around which the most impossible reminiscences sound plausible, instructive, and profoundly entertaining.
-Mark Twain, Roughing It

Wednesday, Day 5- 12 miles, only 4 hours of hiking, cross river, Beamer, Escalante

The wait continues. I was so anxious to get moving again. I wanted to be on the trail hammering out miles, sweating, and admiring the canyon from yet another viewpoint but I was content. Whether or not a boat came was out of my control. All I could do was wait and enjoy the peaceful solitude in the canyon.

While I was waiting I really started to assess the feasibility of building the raft. I collected several large logs and sticks, sketched out a plan for a log raft, and scouted the river for slow spots to cross. I figured if the raft could keep my torso above the water and get me across the river before the rapids down stream, then it could be done, sort of.  Fortunately, I was getting ready to put this thing together when I looked upstream and saw several blue boats and a few kayaks.

BOAT. Yea Yea Yea Yea Yea Yea. What a relief this was. The wait was over.

The rafting group was awesome. Their trip leader was a riot. He was, I want to say, like 72 years old and on his 41st Grand Canyon Expedition. The rest of the rafters came from all walks of life from all over the map. There were sixteen people along for the ride. I’d say most were married, over 30, and very experienced with Grand Canyon rafting trips. They were all very nice and eager to talk to me. Most were wandering what in world I was doing out there.

After they took me across the river, I was treated to a gourmet Lunch. I ate a sandwich stacked very high with turkey, provolone cheese, Dijon mustard, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Then I ate several cookies. Finally, I washed it all down with a Fat Tire beer. I don’t know why I had a beer. It was very cold, windy and generally not ideal beer drinking conditions. I just wanted to say I had a beer while sitting next to the Little Colorado River (LCR as Grand Canyon pros call it) 18 miles from any trailhead.

The LCR is Awesome. The Beamer Trail is awesome. This section of the Grand Canyon is a well kept gem. I saw zero people out on the trail between LCR and over 30 miles later on the Tonto Trail.

After finishing a satisfying lunch, I hiked for about 12 miles until nightfall and ended up meeting my rafting buddies at their camp. I was served a nice spaghetti dinner w/ tossed salad. Yummy. Two wholesome meals in one day.

The fire that they had going was crucial. Everyone was huddled around it trying to keep warm. It was very cold and I didn’t have much to wear. One of the rafters could see me shivering and gave me a fleece jacket to wear. I ended up wearing it until I left the next morning.

The fireside activities were plentiful: music, poem reading, storytelling, and joking. As usual, most of the conversation revolved around storytelling. Mainly stories about past adventures…Alaska, San Juan River, previous Grand Canyon trips, near death experiences, anything you could think of. I asked many questions. I love learning about new places to explore. It gives me something to daydream about while I’m punching the keyboard at work.

Then there were the jokes. The jokes were dirty, rude, and obscene.  Anywhere else in society, except maybe a team locker, this kind of talk would be frowned upon.  However, around the campfire there are no rules or etiquette to abide by. You don’t have to worry about getting sent down to HR or sued or arrested. Fireside conversation is unfiltered. People tend to release all their built up emotion here. I’m always amazed at what is on someone’s mind when you let them speak totally unconstrained and without any consequence. It was a very entertaining evening. Today was day 7 of their trip and I had to wonder how they could still have so many funny jokes.

Beamer Cabin and LCR

Life On Beamer Trail- Walking on the cliff edge and enjoying the view

Standard epic view looking up river. 

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