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.

Fill the Hole


As we were wandering around on the Rim this evening, Kris asked Andy and me if we knew how many people visit the Grand Canyon in a year. We guessed in the millions (it's 5 million a year who visit the South Rim, no idea on the North Rim, where we know I've never visited).

He paused for a few minutes, then said, "We should start a campaign to fill the hole."

I looked at him blankly.

"If everyone of the people who comes here brings a handful of soil from their hometowns, we could fill the Grand Canyon. Three million visitors a year?* How long do you think it would take us to fill it?"


Years. Let's get started. I'll build the website and spread the word.

There are actually closer to five million visitors a year to the Grand Canyon, not three, but we weren't sure. The notice at Indian Gardens said three.

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."

Can't have a vacation without goals


These days, it's hard for me to do anything without a purpose. Even relaxing has to have a purpose (to relax, recharge, gather energy for the next sprint). I can't recall any event in my life recently that I did just to do, without a goal in mind. If I thought about it hard, maybe I could think of something that I just did to do (pet the dog maybe?).

Given that set of statements, I can say that, of course, I've thought about this vacation in those terms. Susan at dinner tonight commented that a friend of hers calls the Grand Canyon "the womb of Mother Earth," because "no one comes out unchanged." I know that I'd like to fix some things with me on this trip. Not that I expect to change my life in a week. I would, however, like to gain some perspective on it during this trip.

So, I'd like to first off, break this crazy sugar addiction I have. I'm really tired of grabbing the candy mid afternoon, or the chocolate just before bed. That sort goes along with the change of not eating until I'm stuffed (though I'm not sure how that'll work down in the Canyon). But, more about not mindlessly eating either.

I'd also like to think about life, and what I want to accomplish in the next few years. That includes work as well as personal. Kris talked recently about moving to Maine "to start over." I hadn't known that he felt like a new start would be nice, but I'm glad that he's at least considering change, something I've not known him likely to do.

Gee, if I can manage it, I'd also like to worry less (what if there are flash floods in the side canyons? what if I fall off the boat? twist an ankle? fall off a mountain?), and be more accepting of myself along the way.

Why, yes, I am hoping for a miracle on this vacation. Why do you ask?

Kris finds a way


I'm always impressed with the way that Kris finds people again in his life.

I don't know how he does it.

Tonight, at dinner, we invited another trip participant to join us for dinner. We were three, she was one, it worked out well for our numbers. We found out her name is Susan, and she signed up for the trip about 3 weeks ago, when there was an unusual cancellation on the trip. We invited her to join us as we were walking into the restaurant.

As Susan was sitting down across the table from Kris, he thought she looked familiar. Through the course of the dinner conversation, old jobs and past lives came up. Susan commented that she was a ski instructor in Colorado around 20 or so years ago. Kris' face LIT up. He animatedly started asking about where Susan had worked.

Turns out, that flicker of recognition was, he believes, because he was HIS ski instructor years ago. She looked familiar enough, and perhaps was memorable enough, and the timeline seemed to fit.

Kris did that to me, too. Back in 1996, I went with Mom, Eric and Sang Yun on a hike along the Cotswold Way in England. We ended up in Bath on the same day his family was in Bath. I recall being quite annoyed at a woman pushing a stroller over one of the bridges in Bath, and we speculate that said woman was actually Kris' sister pushing Kris' nephew in the stroller. The coincidence with Bath is impressive, but the idea of the stroller woman boggles the mind.

So, Kris found me, too.

I don't know how he does it, but I'm glad he did.

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.

As it should be


Since I'm heading down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I don't expect to have any working electronics. I had thought about bringing my sidekick down with me, but its need to sync everything, even when the network and wireless are off, means the battery won't last more than 10 minutes on the trip.

So, I'm taking a moleskine.

Yes, I've finally broken down and decided to use a moleskine.

I've had them since Christmas, when I impulsively asked Kris to buy me a set of three, 64 page grid moleskines. I had them in my box of paperwork this whole time, minus the one I gave Mom earlier this month. It's small, so I feel like it's a small deck of index cards (and way way way way smaller than my usual 1.5" stack of index cards, that's for sure).

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.



I think I'm trying to fly. Not sure.

Andy and Kris