|You don't usually encounter a "Cow Jam" on the way to the Grand Canyon Rim.|
As was the case this time. I left a chatty band of day hikers on the saddle and descended into the heart of the canyon. The steep climb just to get to the first rim might weed out the less serious, as would the lack of trail maintenance and no friendly rangers waiting with water and encouragement. You really are truly alone here.
At 8.5 miles if you believe the signs, and 9.5 if you don't, I passed my potential camp for the night. A serene grove of ponderosas perched above the creek, it had always seemed like a perfect place to camp. From there a person unencumbered by a backpack could tag the river and return.
Today, however, was not that day. A vicious wind whipped through the pines, and I have seen enough ponderosa carnage to know that fire-weakened trees like these can suddenly fall, crushing anything in their path. I elected to go on, thinking that surely I would find a campsite between here and the river, or at the river if all else failed.
Soon it became apparent that it was the river or bust. The canyon narrowed to a sliver of its former self. I struggled through downed trees and brush. Every step was a challenge of prickly bushes and hurty trees. And I hadn't even reached the famed Poison Ivy Forest. I was down to less than an inch of water and didn't feel like fighting to the creek to get more. It was time to admit defeat.
|See the trail? Me either.|
In the end what I miss most about living an isolated place are "my people." I'm starting to kind of want to see a few people on these trails. I like standing with our packs on exchanging information about what's ahead and behind, where the next water is, what the ivy situation might be. I miss the same enthusiasm for adventure and wanting to go past the next bend. I want to find people willing to try a silly RTR but also willing to give it up if it becomes too stupid. If I ever move away from here, this will be why.