Monday, January 1, 2018
Up from the Depths; Pilot on a Mule; Jacob's Ladder; A Doberge Birthday; A Beautiful Model; Happy New Year!
Following the two nights and one full day Robert and I spent at Phantom Ranch, we prepared for our climb back up to the South Rim on the Bright Angel Trail. This 10-mile long "corridor trail" starts out relatively flat, crossing the Colorado River on the Silver Suspension Bridge, paralleling the river for a couple of miles, partly through loose sand, and then climbing up through side canyons 4,460 feet to the rim. On this map, it's only a couple of inches long...
We had an early breakfast at 0530 - all the eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes you could eat. I would need every calorie on this hike. I left promptly at 0600, in the dark, using a headlamp for light. Robert would follow a couple of hours later on a different adventure - a mule train. He thought it would be a unique experience. Being a cheapskate, and having an intense dislike of mules (based on a previous "adventure" when the mule I was riding stopped to graze over the edge of a 500 ft cliff), I opted to use my own feet, but told him that if he found my body on the side of the trail, just sling it over a mule and haul me out.
I hiked alone for the entire duration of the hike out. It was a little spooky hiking in the dark, hearing only the occasion owl and coyote, and the distant sounds of the rapids on the river a few hundred yards below the trail. Half an hour later, the sky was just beginning to lighten.
I climbed steadily over a rocky trail for the next few miles along Bright Angel Creek. The scenery was barren, but beautiful. The trail got steeper as I hiked higher.
Bright Angel Creek wasn't running very high - it hadn't rained heavily in months - but the vegetation was relatively lush, compared with the arid, rocky desert that surrounds the creek.
The reddish cliffs towering above the trail are composed of sedimentary rock called Redwall Limestone, from the Mississippian age, about 350 million years ago.
Reaching Indian Garden, I stopped for lunch, and met a young woman who had been out alone for five days and nights, camping off trail and away from established campgrounds. Tammy works at one of the lodges here, so is acclimated to the elevation, but her pack was the smallest I have ever seen a backpacker carrying for a 5-day outing. The advantage of a light pack is being able to move faster and farther than someone carrying a heavier pack. The disadvantage is that you have to be very selective about what to carry. Tammy was living on water and beef jerky so she wouldn't have to carry heavy food, stove, fuel and utensils. She did admit that she was going to splurge on a big steak when she got back home. Oh, and she was wearing Keds, not hiking boots!
After Indian Garden, the trail steepened, and entered what seemed like unending switchbacks. But the view... my God, the view was awesome! Cameras and cell phones just cannot duplicate the magnificence of the Grand Canyon. This area is called Jacob's Ladder, named for the connection between earth and Heaven that Jacob dreams about in the Book of Genesis.
My closing trip photos show the dawn's early light on Grand Canyon as we prepared to depart for our flight back in Las Vegas the next morning. Hard to believe that we had checked off one of our most important "bucket list" items. If you haven't been to Grand Canyon to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, you are missing out...
Suzanne had ordered a special birthday cake to be shipped from Joe Gambino's Bakery in New Orleans for our joint birthday. Bev Garlipp had conspired to put it on her credit card so I wouldn't see the bill. For those of you unfamiliar with New Orleans cuisine, one of the city's signature desserts is doberge cake, comprised of six layers of white or yellow buttermilk cake separated by custard filling, and frosted with buttercream and petit fours fondant icing, in this case half chocolate and half lemon. It is one of the World's Truly Evil Desserts. One 12 inch diameter cake weighs about 10 lbs. It is "To Die For"...
Tony gave me the most amazing gift. He had personally made this beautiful, hand-crafted model of my destroyer, USS John Rodgers (DD-983), which I had commanded for two years. It was a touching moment when I gazed upon my old ship, and brought back many fond memories.
Here is a close-up of Tony's exquisite model. He is a master craftsman - he has built his own wooden sailboat and many ship models that nautical museums would be proud to display.
As we reach the end of 2017, we look ahead for an even better 2018. This sunrise suggests the optimism that sailors have always had at the dawn of a new day. We wish you all fair winds, following seas and exciting adventures in the year ahead.
Posted by Ty and Suzanne Giesemann at 5:23 PM