kris

Kris throws the first

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Kris is serious about his commitment to Fill the Hole today, dumping the inaugural bag of dirt at the bottom of the Canyon.

Go, Kris!

Andy and Kris

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Hiking down the Bright Angel

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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.

Kris finds a way

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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.

Water sources

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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."

Fill the Hole

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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?"

"Uh..."

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.

Pictures of the three of us

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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

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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:

Hair? Bah.

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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.

Kris is so excited

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I think this may become my most favorite picture of Kris of all time.

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