Showing posts from May, 2022

Day Nineteen: In Mourning

There was only about an hour of light left when we shoved off and much of that was spent adjusting ropes and rigging as we floated along. We puttered along as the light faded mostly lost in our thoughts. I tried to feel some regret of having ditched my fellow clients now probably in their tents back at camp but couldn't. I was leaving in my own way to mourn the end of the trip and what had become a life changing experience and for that I couldn't apologize. When darkness enshrouded us and we could no longer safely travel even with the light of a flashlight, we anchored on a sandbar, I crawled into my sleeping bag and dozed off to the gentle rocking of the boat.   A nearly full moon arose and all too soon, a voice said, "it's time." I crawled out of my warm cocoon, untied the rope and pushed us once again into the current. We had made good time so we drifted for a while and sipped some warming whiskey that Lee brought out. The canyon walls were getting lower to the

Day Eighteen: My Betrayal

  Water Going Over Falls at Travertine Grotto I woke up to clear skies and by now knew that it meant it was going to be a scorcher of a day. We had a miniature Easter egg hunt when we woke up for some plastic eggs filled with candy. For breakfast, we had some eggs of the real kind along with some fried potatoes and French bread. With fewer people, everything was quickly loaded and we floated down the river for a few miles before stopping at Travertine Grotto. Travertine is a type of colorful rock that takes on many different hues but seems predominantly emerald green in my colorblind perspective. The grotto, a few miles up a side canyon, consisted of a series of waterfalls that we could climb up. The largest and uppermost falls required a rope to scramble up. We walked around but didn't linger as already it was hot when not in the shade and there was very little of it in the grotto. We floated downstream to another place called Travertine Falls where we had lunch and did another

Day Seventeen: The Beginning of the End

  It was clear when I woke in the morning at the bottom of the large oven that is the Grand Canyon in summer time and so it was no surprise that the day would become quite hot. A slight breeze kicked up during the night that literally sucked all available moisture out of me and it continued throughout the day making drinking water a lifesaving event. During breakfast of peach pancakes and fruit, I sensed something was up due to the crew continually whispering to each other off to the side of camp. As we started packing, they told us that Bill, the father of the family of four that arrived yesterday by helicopter, had some sort of heart problem during the night and is cutting his trip short to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, cuttings ones trip short at the bottom of a remote stretch of canyon, downstream of the helicopter pad, isn't easy. The crew had called someone who was going to drive forty miles in a four wheel drive truck with a low granny gear down some canyon some miles d

How Does Your Garden Grow

 This past weekend we made a trip down to the farm to do some weeding and plant some corn and more trees for our orchard. We were pleasantly surprised to see that all the beans were up, except for the first 2/3rds of the first row. I'm not sure if we forgot to plant it or they just ended up deeper and hadn't made it up yet. I should know the answer to that question this coming weekend. Our peas are growing but I'm not expecting much from them since we planted them pretty late. But we do have a week of unseasonably cool temperatures coming so perhaps there is some hope. It is hard to see but our potatoes were almost all up. Last year was our first year planting potatoes since my childhood and we enjoyed them so much that we are doing them again this year. This picture shows where the three trees I planted last spring were located. If you recall, we had a really wet spring last year and I think all the moisture did them in. When I pulled them up, there were no fine roots at a

Day Sixteen: Betrayed... Again

Lave Cliffs Near Lava Falls The sky was completely socked in when I woke in the morning but had cleared off by the time we shoved off. We had breakfast burritos and fruit in the morning and got the nine people who were leaving today sent off ahead in two dories while the rest of us struck camp. The remaining seven of us, only three of us who had gone the entire distance, got camp packed up and pushed off an hour later. We floated down to Whitmore Wash in time to see the last helicopter arrive and take the last three remaining people away and drop off a second family consisting of a single mother and her young daughter. The other family already waiting was a mother, a father and two kids. Once again my emotions were similar to those I experienced at Phantom Ranch. Those that had been on the trip since the beginning and had left, had betrayed us in a way. They were deserters complete with guilty eyes. The six people joining us were infiltrators trying get to know those of us who had bee

Day Fifteen: Alive Below Lava (ABL)

  Ote Below Lava Sitting in the front of the dory boat along with Jurgen the elder German, we silently drifted downstream towards the lip of Lava Falls. Beyond the lip all that I could see was leaping white froth that seemed to be waving us towards our doom like sailors to a siren. My hands were locked onto the gunnel railing and for a second, I looked at them fascinated by the how white and insignificant they looked. The boat started picking up speed as we edged over the lip and slip down the tongue towards the first wave that wickedly towered above us. The boat climbed half way up the wave before the weight of the German and myself combined drove it into the interior of the wave. The icy cold water took my breath away and the loud roar was abruptly dampened as I hung on and waited for the boat to punch out the backside of the wave. The water continued tossing me around like I was inside a washing machine but I continued to hang on for what seemed like an eternity. I was just about

Day Fifteen: Above Lava Falls

  Devil's Anvil Today was a beautiful day with lots of sun, by far the hottest day of the trip so far. I wondered what it was like on the outside of the canyon walls in that "other world," I once knew. Despite the long hike to Mooney Falls yesterday, I woke up early even by my standards and couldn't fall back asleep. I "inch wormed" my way over to a nearby rock in my sleeping bag and watched the sky transform itself into all shades of red, pink and yellow. I would have taken a picture if I could have reached my camera from the comfort of my sleeping bag but I couldn't and so I didn't. Eventually the cooks awoke and began rustling down in the kitchen area so I packed up my gear and moseyed on down to talk with them as a breakfast of cherry French toast with strawberry yogurt was prepared. Perhaps it was the campsite, the air, or the knowledge of what was in store for the day but everyone seemed to get an early start today, even the wandering couple

Day Fourteen: Mooney Falls

  Mooney Falls I had wanted to wake up during the peak of the full moon but unfortunately slept through it. Apparently a full moon makes a lot of light but not much noise. I was feeling a little slow so when I did open my eyes to light of the star persuasion, I leisurely packed up my gear and headed down to the beach for the loading of the boats and thus giving my status as one of the first ones ready to others this morning. After a breakfast of toasted bagels, eggs, and potatoes, we loaded up and pushed off. We paddled about five miles to Havasu Canyon where we were dropped off for the day. The stream was a brilliant crystal blue and held many fine swimming holes and waterfalls. The whole valley was lush with grapevines and none of the crew that I asked knew why that was, other than they were in all the old pictures they had seen from the 1800's. Though there were usually three or four options with every hike, today there were only two options. Option A was to hike to Mooney Fal

The Garden, Geese and Lilacs

While my wife was attending the funeral, I made a trip down to the garden to mow the grassy perimeter and to do a couple little chores. One was to pick the asparagus but as you can see above, the heat of the last week caused it to bolt bringing it to an end shortly after the season started. This next week is supposed to be cooler normal temperatures so perhaps there will still be a bit more but the weeds will make them hard to find. There were two varieties of pole beans already up. I wasn't sure about putting in the fence immediately after planting in case we were exactly on top of the row of seeds but it looks like we missed. Even if it was right on top, I thought the plants would still push up around the side of the bottom wire anyway.  Our peas are up though this hot weather isn't doing them any favors. Probably next weekend we will mulch them to preserve moisture and control weeds a bit better. Not a very good picture but my lilacs are finally starting to look like lilacs.

Volunteers Needed

 It all started when my wife came home from work one evening saying there was a clicking noise in her vehicle. I hopped in and backed up maybe ten feet out of the garage and knew what was making the noise. I knew this because I noticed that air pressure indicator was illuminated on the dash and the clicking occurred once every revolution of the tire. I quickly confirmed there was a screw head protruding from her tire and can't believe she drove all the way home on it. But fortunately, the sidewalls were pretty stiff and her vehicle is light and so nothing was damaged.  The next day I dropped off the vehicle to get the tire fixed new tires put on all the way around since those tires were near the end of their life expectancy anyway. While that was happening, I walked across the street to a little coffee shot intending to read my book there for awhile until the work was completed. Instead I ran into a neighbor (and friend) who was meeting up there with someone else for breakfast bef

Day Thirteen: Finding My Inner Boy

  Ledges Camp Last night I had pitched my sleeping bag on the fine white sand underneath the overhanging rock next to the cliff face. I decided to camp there for the novelty of sleeping under several hundred feet of rock and not because of the passing clouds that I had seen during sunset of the previous evening. All the crew were sleeping on their boats and the clients were scattered out among the pissweed behind camp in their tents so I had the place all to myself. At least for a while. In the early morning hours, a rainsquall must have hit. I found this out when opened my eyes and looked right into Elaina's sleeping face right next to me. Surprised, I sat up only to find Nick on the other side of me and most of the other crew and Jorge the German sardined into what had been a roomy place for one but quite cozy for the eight of us now sharing it. The other hint that a squall had hit was the dusting of sand that was now on and inside my sleeping bag. It was overcast and windy whe

Garden Update

  On the Saturday before Mother's Day, we finally got a beautiful weekend and though the garden wasn't quite dry enough to work first thing in the morning, by the afternoon it was working beautifully. I was able to mow around everything only getting stuck once. Then I started in tilling the garden so we could plant a couple rows of potatoes in that area to the left of the strawberry bed. Further to the left we planted five rows of various pole beans and I pounded in fence posts and strung up panels for them to climb later on. On beyond that, we planted another half dozen rows or so of various other dry shell beans. All these beans are test plantings to see what varieties grow well so that perhaps in the future we can winnow down our selection and plant what works best for us.  Unfortunately, I was too beat by the end of the day that I didn't really get much for other pictures, except one to rub in the face of Debby to show off all the asparagus coming out. This is always m

Day Twelve: Thunder River/Deer Creek Traverse

  Sunset & Approaching Storm Morning dawned with a crystal clearness not seen outside of the arid western lands. We ate some breakfast burritos with eggs and hash browns, packed a sack lunch and did a quick splash in the dories to Tapeats Creek where six of us and some of the crew were dropped off for a hike downstream via several rivers and a couple passes. The rest would take the dories and meet with us downstream later. Tapeats Creek We hiked up Tapeats Creek and were forced to cross it twice and only with great difficulty. Once involved us forming a human chain to give the weaker members of us something to hold onto as they crossed the waist deep water roaring downstream. We made it to the junction of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River and from there, it was almost straight up. Thunder River was one continuous maelstrom of white froth as its fall was equal to or greater than its run. After 500 feet of altitude gain, we finally came upon the source of Thunder River, a mammoth sprin

Trying To Make Sense

When we got the call on Friday, we weren't overly concerned. A close cousin of my wife was letting us know her daughter hadn't come home the night before and was worried. We had spent two weeks with this cousin and daughter last year, once while on our east coast vacation and again when they took us up on a Midwest vacation at our house. Everything seemed normal with the relationship with the 24 year old daughter and her mom. The girl was trying to wrap up an online college degree thanks to Covid and wasn't quite sure where she was headed in life but for me, that is normal at that age. Many of us don't find our callings until much later in life after much trial and error. So we guessed there had been a disagreement and the 24 year old adult daughter had taken a night off to cool her heals. We prayed for a resolution and shared a missing daughter announcement using social media. By Saturday morning, there was still no word back. We mused on it while we made our way down

Day Eleven: A Fine Day

  (For some unexplained reason, the photos that accompanied the original posts have been lost to time.) I woke up in the middle of the night for the first time and watched the moon set over a downstream rim. The sky was clear and shone brilliantly with starlight even with the absence of the torch-like moon. When I woke up a second time, clouds had moved in enshrouding the inner canyon and would stay with us until mid-morning before dissolving away. As a treat for the cook and her assistant, Bronco cooked breakfast this morning to let them sleep in and for a half hour, it was just the two of us. With the heavy clouding, people slept in and after they finally gathered in the kitchen area, we ate a breakfast of French toast served with an apple/raisin sauce and bacon. After we got packed up and shoved off, I almost immediately saw a coyote scrambling for cover in the rocks overhead. They are definitely a hardy animal to be found way down here at the bottom of the canyon. We pushed thr

Day Ten: Nudity Without Pictures (Bath Time)

Sitting there on a shelf of rock in the cliffs behind camp, I sipped the beer given to me by Nick who was one of the baggage wranglers and watched people scurrying around like ants below. The conversation came easily and the pauses were comfortable as we overlooked the canyon like kings from a throne. Jurgen the German hiked up and joined us after awhile smoking on one of his big cigars that he always lites up in camp. I hate being around the smell of cigar smoke especially when enjoying all the clean, dry air here in the Grand Canyon, but he was always polite and sits downwind. Besides, he often passes around his bottles of very fine brandy in the evenings around the campfire that he brought along with him on the trip. During one long pause in the conversation, Jurgen reached into his small pack and brought out a pair of binoculars. He glassed the horizon for a few minutes before coming to rest on one particular point. I stared intently at the little peninsula of rocks that stuck out

Finding a Mushroom Machine

  With a full day forecasted to be without rain and perhaps a bit of sunshine, I drove back down to the farm for another round of morel mushroom hunting. I checked underneath the tree where I found the bulk of the morels earlier in the week but none had returned. So I decided to walk back to another part of the farm I hadn't checked during my previous trip and that is where I found a mushroom machine. For those of you new to my blog, a mushroom machine is a recently dead elm tree under which morel mushrooms will grow in great abundance. In fact, all those mushroom above were all found under the same tree. Mature elms were and still are decimated by the Dutch Elm Disease, a fungal infection spread by beetles and root grafting. But the elm trees can reach an age where they can propagate before become infected and so there is a continual source of new elm trees growing up and quickly dying again before they even reach their middle teens. After their death, the elm trees secret somethi