Wet bed


Andy: "Wow. That doesn't look appealing."

Me: "What does it look like?"

Andy: "A wet bed sheet."

At dinner yesterday evening, Tracy offered the suggestion of wetting our bed sheets in the river before going to bed. Both Kris and Andy did so. I opted to stay dry. I'm not sure either of them slept better last night for the wetness, as it also rained last night. A lot.

Kris, Andy and I had put up the tent before we went to bed. It had sprinkled a small bit last night, so we knew that rain was a possibility. It hadn't, however, rained enough to send us into the tent. Last night, we put up the tent just in case. We had also decided, based on the amount of wind in the Canyon at night, and how much sand said wind kicks up, that we were going to choose sleeping locations based on wind protection. We looked for areas where we were downwind of a large rock, outcropping or bush, and used our tent for wind protection in the other direction.

Last night, however, it rained. Not just the spattering of the night before, but full gusto, big drop, Arizona monsoon rain. I had jumped into the tent still dry, but Kris and Andy waited until the rain was really coming down. I then insisted they put the rain tarp on the tent, which we had neglected to do last night, so they were even wetter when they finally came in.

Before the rain began, the sky had cleared and I managed to see the black sky with so many more stars than I normally see. I managed to see the new constellations I learned on the plane flight over, though I didn't recall their names, as well as draco and a few others I did recognize.

We were camping at the 118 dune camp, which is in Steven's Aisle, after rafting though some big rapid yesterday.

First full day on the river


Finally! Took pictures today! I figured out that if I keep the camera in the dry bag, the tiny one that Mom and Eric loaned me, and tuck it under the secured dry bags, I can pull it out during the day and take pictures. Lots of pictures. I'm happy.

Kris and I spent the morning in Matt's boat, as Andy took to the paddle boat. With his sunglasses on, Matt looks like Brad Pitt with dark hair. Sounds similar, too. I'll have to reassess that statement after seeing him without his sunglasses on, which I haven't done yet. Eyes are key in this.

I'm thrilled to say I've figured out this peeing in a boat trick, and have been peeing a LOT. The guides keep telling us about keeping hydrated. Given how I spent a large amount of time peeing, I have to say I'm listening. Though Matt did figure out my bladder is the Smallest Bladder in the World pretty quick.

The trick, at least for me, is to pee into a can, then dump the contents into the river and wash out the can. I picked up a can last night before dinner, managing to get the ERG canister, which has a lid. I recalled my need to urinate all the time was a problem last trip, with my being unable to pee with my butt hanging overboard, with my lower body in the water, or (as usual) with anyone hearing. I couldn't care less if you could see me. If you could hear me, well then, the flow clenched.

Turns out, Matt has a similar "issue": he needs cover sound, too. Not normally a problem on a river with 18000 cfs flow, I think.

The day started off pretty rough for me. I was in the back of the boat, with Kris and Pat, a trip assistant and a friend of Matt's, in the front. I sat on the back left, Kris being in the front left, during the rapids and, at the end, crouched in the back and started crying. During the rapids, I was overcome with worry and was scared. It wasn't for myself, though. I was worried about Kris.

Realizing that this was going to make for a pretty horrible trip down the river if I spent the whole thing worrying about Kris, I calmed down, thought about the absurdity of my reactions, and was fine the rest of the day.

Today's hike was to Elves' Chasm, where a small waterfall fell at the end of the short hike. I remembered this waterfall, though not the hike into the side canyon. I also recall Eric jumping from the waterfall. Guy probably did, too, but I don't have any strong memories of his doing so.

Once the guides showed us we could jump off the waterfall, people started rushing the climbing hole to get up. Andy and Kris went, as did most everyone else, before I decided I wanted to go.

When did I become so fearful? When did everything become so hard for me?

I climbed up, slipping slightly once with Andreas helping me out. I froze at the top of the waterfall, even though it wasn't very high up and 10 people had made this jump before me. I needed Kris to call out 3 2 1, then needed everyone to call out 3 2 1 for me. I still paused, then jumped.

Well, Abbey commented that I more "slid off" than jumped, but I did go over the edge.

And looked terrified doing it, unlike Kris and Andy who looked calm and entertained.

My camera battery died just before Kris jumped a second time.

Tragically, I had left my spare camera battery in a ziploc bag, instead of the dry bag. Water was in the bag when I went for the battery, with blue acid oozing out of the terminals. The good part was that it was the crappy Lennar camera battery, which lasts less than half of the time as the Canon camera batteries. Unfortunately, I'm down to four camera batteries, and it's day 2 isn't even over yet.

Andy and Kris


Hiking down the Bright Angel


So, we began our hike down to the river this morning at 4:38. We were all supposed to meet at 4:30 at the top of the Bright Angel Trail. Unfortunately, the buses don't run before 5:00 in some of the hotels up here at the South Rim, so a couple people weren't at the top. I think they had made arrangements, so we left without them.

Brian, the guide who is heading down the train with us until he meets up with the last hiker from the group heading up, told us yesterday not to dress for the current cold. He let us know that our walking would keep us sufficiently warm that the extra layers would be unnecessary and eventually burdensome in the expected heat.

That Brian is walking down with us is new to me. Apparently, there's a new rule that requires commercial groups to have a guide hike with the group. Not only hike with them, but also account for all of the hikers in the group. I guess I could understand the need, but geez, I would really have preferred to start walking at 6:00 am and arrive by 11:00 am.

I chose to walk without a light, which meant I needed to keep up with Kris and Andy, who both had lights. Unfortunately, I made it about 500 yards, yes, all of 500 yards, before my knees started hurting. As I walked, I realized that, sure I had walked 500 yards, but, I had 7.2 miles left to hike that morning to start the water journey. Thinking about it wouldn't help, so I tried my best to ignore the pain. Andy (rightly) asked if I had preempted the pain by taking ibuprofen before starting. Alas, I hadn't.

We noticed breaking dawn around 5:30 in the morning, though "dawn" was a little unclear as soon as we dropped below the rim. We sorta relied more on the canyon reflections to determine when dawn was.

So, starting at 4:38, we hit the first water stop at mile 1.5 around 5:15, followed by the second water stop at mile 3 around 6:10. We waited only a little bit at each place before continuing. We figured we could stop for real at Indian Garden, which was at 4.5 miles in. After then, there would be no water sources until the river, so we'd need to fill up there for the final 3 mile push to the end.

We arrived at Indian Gardens at 7:09, and waited about 45 minutes for the rest of the group to both show up, and for all of us to rest up before continuing.

The hike down the mountain was pretty much all rock. Once we passed Indian Gardens, though, we were walking along lower ridges that were very different. I wish I knew the rock layers around here, as they are pretty amazingly fascinating.

Kris and Andy spent most of the hike about 20 yards in front of me, the three of us ahead of the rest of the group until Indian Gardens. When we did meet up and had conversations, they were often sufficiently frustrating that I preferred to hike back away from the two of them. One conversation about which body was found recently on Everest, was it Mallory, and what was on his camera, led to a discussion about what "summitting a mountain" really meant, with Kris insisting that one can "summit" only if one returns from the summit.

Later update: I hadn't realized the camera wasn't found with the body.

We arrived at the Pipe's Creek camp around 9:21 am. I had fallen twice on the hike down, rolling my left ankle both times. Kris said I hadn't fallen, I had stumbled both times, but that feels like semantics to me. I was caught myself both times, but was quite frustrated about falling .

My knees were amazingly relieved to be done with that hike. I wonder how long they'll ache after this one.

Great. Just great.


We're not here a single day, not even two days on this journey, and I've already managed to get Andy annoyed, maybe angry, at me.

Great. Just great.

So that I remember: Doyle's jersey refund.

Water sources


kris: "You know what the best part of peeing into the river is?"

me: "No. What?"

kris: "Los Angeles gets its water from the river."

andy: "Hmmm, that must be why Pasadena water tastes so awful."

Pictures of the three of us


I'm so lucky that Kris lets me keep pictures like this of him.

Of course, I have to balance it with pictures like this, of my nose smooshed.

Andy, on the other hand, never takes a bad picture.

And, yes, the ice cream shake WAS tasty.

Attack of the 50 foot mouse


Kris, Andy and I were in our Bright Angel Lodge room tonight, starting to unwind. Non of us were particularly tired, it being only about 7:15 or so in the evening. We'll start hiking tomorrow morning at 4:30, and we've agreed to pick up Susan, a fellow traveller, from her room before heading over to the trailhead, which is all of a five minute walk away. The plan is to wake up at 4:00 am (I argued for 4:15, but both Andy and Kris said "No way."), get Susan at 4:20 am, and be at the trailhead on time.

If I'm getting up at 4:00 AM, I can state with certainty now that I won't be able to think clearly at that hour, and I had better pack my stuff up well tonight. I think "take off pajamas, put on hiking shorts, shoes, bra and shirt, brush teeth, pick up pack and walk out the door" is as much as I can expect myself to be able to do at 4:00 am on six hours (maybe, if I'm lucky) sleep.

So, I was packing up my stuff, when I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye. A blur moving very quickly. "Oh my god!" I cried out. "Did you see that?"

"See what?" either Andy or Kris asked. Andy had looked up, and where I was pointing, and had seen a bug (granted, a fairly large bug) flying around the general area where I was pointing. "Great," he thought (I know this, because he told me), "Kitt's afraid of bugs." I'm sure he was thinking I was going to be a PERFECT camping partner at this point.

"A mouse!" I cried out. "A mouse just ran under the dresser!"

Kris leaned over from where he sat on the bed, and looked at the dresser dubiously. He looked back up at me. "No. A mouse can't fit there."

I looked at the side of the dresser and saw a one inch gap between the dresser and the wall. "It did, too! I saw it!"

Neither of them believed me at this point. Andy had seen only a bug. Kris couldn't believe a mouse could fit in the gap. "Fine," I said. "Look under the dresser."

Kris grabbed his light, leaned down, and looked under the dresser.

"Oh my god!"

He jumped back and looked back at me. "There IS a mouse under there!"

"I told you!"

Andy didn't quite believe us and needed to see for himself. Sure enough, there was a mouse under the dresser, I hadn't been just "seeing things" and, hey, maybe I wouldn't be such a bad camping partner.

The next plan was to, of course, get the mouse out of the room before we went to bed. I had foodstuff in my pack, and it would simply suck to wake up to find the mouse had eaten through my pack on the way to the food.

Andy opened the door and the two of them readied to move the dresser. The dresser was pretty heavy, so it took both Andy and Kris to lift it. When they did lift it, the mouse shot out from under it.

Right under my bed.

None of us had seen the mouse go out the door, so we looked around for it, finally finding it under my bed. What proceeded next was fifteen minutes of barricade building and bed shifting and skreeching and general mayhem in the room. The mouse did NOT want to go outside, yet was as frightened of me as I was of it. Each time it ran near me, I squeeked, and it ran the other way. It managed to be under my bed, under Andy's bed, and back under the dresser several times, bypassing the door to the outside world each time.

To an outside party, the activity inside the room must have seemed hilarious, what with bed covers flying and mattresses upended and dressers tipped.

Canyon rules state that you're not supposed to disturb the wildlife. I'm really not sure what the rule is when the wildlife disturbs you.

Andy thought my little tormentor was cute. He wanted to name him. We bantered names around for a bit. Andy decided on "6116" (our room number). I decided "Scotch."

World, meet Scotch:

Andy's first visit


So, I found out today (just this afternoon!) that Andy has never been to the Grand Canyon before. As someone who has been to the Grand Canyon what six? seven times? and hiked down at least three times (whoo, and medivac'd back out as the patient's watcher), I had to admit that Andy was going to have a fabulous first time down the Canyon.

Though, even with those seven times (six?), I've never been to the North Rim. I've been on the north side, but only on the river.

This is Kris and Andy way down on the trail. They said they'd be 100 yards down on the trail. They are over 575 steps down. Assuming 2.5 to 3 feet per step, and they were more than the 100 yards down on the trail.

Hair? Bah.


Ten years ago, I shaved my head. Well, ten years, one month, two days ago I had my hair cut really really short (number 1 guard, for those of the male persuasion who know what that means) at the barber shop at the Bright Angel Lodge located at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

I originally wanted to shave my head and walk the Great Wall of China when I was 29. The whole wall, all 2500 miles of it. Figuring it would take a couple years, I'd be back when my hair had grown out.

Why cut it in the first place?

Because I firmly believe everyone should see what her head looks like bald because she chooses to have no hair, rather than be forced to have no hair because of circumstances of life (same for 'his' and 'he', by the way. I just wanted to emphasize the girl part).

At the end of June ten years ago, I was going to raft down the Grand Canyon with Guy, Eric, Mom and Guy's family. I didn't have any important events coming up, such as weddings or presentations. Honestly, there wasn't any reason not to shave away.

So I did.

Wow, is it liberating to have no hair. Washing it is quick in the morning. No worry about styling it, it was already styled. AND no worries about having a bad hair day. They were all good hair days. My head also felt like Mr. Bauer's fuzzy head. Like that could be bad.

I have a picture around here somewhere that Guy took. It turned out pretty well.

Well, today, Kris, Andy and I are at the top of the Grand Canyon, at Bright Angel Lodge.

I think it's time to shave my head again.