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A beautiful kingsnake

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The mixing of two obssessions...

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I wish I could have stayed longer. I'd love to spend a few weeks in the Escalante/Grand Staircase region. Coming back has been hard. I'll post thoughts and stories later, but here's the general rundown of my trip.

Day 1: Seattle to Vegas to the North Rim )

Back

May. 31st, 2005 12:37 am
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Back from the North Rim (and Bryce Canyon and Zion and Valley of Fire). God only knows how many miles I hiked, but it was all great. The North Rim weather couldn't have been better! Bryce can now be checked off my list of National Parks to visit.

More chitchat about it all later. Yawn.
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I don't get out there often enough. I decided against Big Bend, because I wasn't psyched to do a 6-7 hour long drive just to get to the northernmost part of the park. Especially since I was mostly interested in the southern areas. So, I'm going to head up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for my spring break. I haven't been there in several years, so this will be nice. It'll be yet another weekend commando-style visit, but I'll have a couple of days to play.

I always thought the North Rim was way more beautiful than the South. It's 1000 feet higher in elevation and more densely forested. There's usually way fewer people, too. It'll be great.
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My long-traveling backpacking stove! It has come back to me from the two women I lent it to in the Grand Canyon. One of them boxed it up and sent it off, accompanied by large bags of finely ground ancho chili and cilantro from her town of Tumacacori, Arizona. She also kindly included some recipes, in case I had no clue what to do with ancho chili.

The box had an intriguing return addresss--the name of a business (Fiddles and Violins)--so I googled it and came away with an email address to write and thank her for the spices.

Happy to have my stove back. It's going to see a lot more use this year.

Wow!

Mar. 30th, 2004 08:50 am
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I gave up my camp stove for lost. I left it with some women down on the plateau of the Grand Canyon. Their stove wasn't working well, and it was much too cold to be without means to heat food. I offered to lend them the stove I've carried around for a decade and left it at their campsite in the pre-dawn am as I left to hike out.

I didn't have a pen, so I attached a flight ticket with my name and address on it (scribbled badly). No stove appeared in my mailbox though, so I figured they probably couldn't decipher my handwriting.

Well, my phone number was on there! One of them just called me to thank me for leaving it with them. It's in the mail and coming home to me now. Yay for cool people!
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Hiking Log: Bright Angel and Tonto trails, Grand Canyon. Some Rim trail.
Mileage: roughly 22
Buttkicking factor: Heh. The butt is distinctly rounder and firmer than before.

I set off about noon, after dubiously staring out over the rim. There was no visibility. None. It was snowing, a damp driven cold snow, and heavy fog guaranteed a definite lack of a view. After tossing the idea of cancelling around in my head for a few minutes, I gave that idea up as ludicrous and set off for the Backcountry Office. One of the rangers there turned out to be a former roommate from when I lived in the Canyon five years ago. We gossiped about everyone we knew in common while the other, impossibly young, ranger drew up my permit.

Britt-Marie said I hadn't aged a bit, upon which I felt compelled to point out the grad school-inflicted gray hairs. (Reminds me of that Dilbert cartoon, where Dogbert told a woman she looked nice and she responded something like, "Me? I look like a whale in a skirt with bad hair!" Dogbert went away whistling, thinking, "Why insult someone when it's so easy to get them to insult themselves?")

Anyway... )
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I'll post my hiking log later, but it was fabulous tho' extremely trying conditions. Hiked down in blizzard and white-out (fog) conditions, sheer ice on the trail. Down below we had snow below the redwall, hail, sleet, storms, wind, some sun breaks. The sky cleared up Saturday night, so I night hiked up in the starlight and watched the dawn break from the trail. It burst into the most beautiful day imaginable. There was also three inches of fresh powder over the trail, and that last mile and a half on the Bright Angel is a killer anyway. Almost no hikers.

Abandoned my faithful camp stove of ten years because two women hiked down into that mercurial weather to find out that their stove didn't work. I gave them mine the morning I hiked out, with the promise that they'll mail it back to me. We'll see, but one cannot be without a source of heat down there in those conditions. I'm such a girl scout.

Havasupai

Sep. 6th, 2002 09:55 pm
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The waterfalls are beautiful to the point of being surreal. That color can't be real, right? Those rocks don't really look like they're melting, do they? The canyon walls are pretty narrow at that point, but you almost don't notice because of the lush greenery surrounding the Havasu river. The first falls you come to is Navajo, kind of hidden away. It's hard to get there--you need to fight the brush and muck around into the water to get a clear view. The next falls are the twin beauties of Havasu Falls. This is paradise.

The falls descend into multiple, deep pools. Some of the natural dams have weepy trees growing in them which bend down and brush the water. The water is lime-saturated, which gives it an amazingly pure blue-green color, and coats the rocks with a whitish crust. After hiking down on a hot day, it was sheer bliss to pull off my boots and wade into that water. Then to dive into that water and swim. I had to wonder how painful it was for the Havasupai people to part with their privacy and open this amazing place up to tourism.

The rocks beside and behind the falls are completely covered in green moss and algae, with creeping, viney plants wandering down the wall. A large, person shaped rock halfway hidden in the shadows beside the falls looked like nothing more than a mother Earth Goddess statue. It was set back in a nook and covered with vines. It was rather hard to get to, as the water was turbelent and deep directly before it, but I managed and found that the mystery vanished with each step closer I got. I backed off and restored the illusion of a Goddess cloaked behind the falls.

The river ran down from the falls, silently and beautifully (except for the mini-waterfalls here and there) past the campground. I chose a place where I could hear the water running. Did I mention the campground was virtually empty? There was space for 200 people, but everyone was going to show up for the Labor day weekend, and I was there early.

The stars were glorious that night. I laid out on top of a picnic table and watched shooting stars for hours. I am rarely so content.

(Later: the best hike I've ever experienced.)

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Jen Kleis

November 2014

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