Archive for June, 2010


June 19, 2010

The guy I stayed with in Phoenix was hosting another surfer who had flown to Phoenix from Atlanta to pick up a DeLorean he bought on ebay.  A fucking DeLorean.  I rode in a fucking DeLorean.

Didn’t do much in Phoenix which is just what I wanted to do.  Thanks, Tim.


Grand Canyon, pt. 3

June 19, 2010

Canyon hiking is way worse than mountain hiking.  On a mountain, you climb to the top fresh, celebrate with beautiful views, then trot back down, easy peasy.  In a canyon, you practically jog down, overestimating your physical prowess all the way, kick it at the bottom for a bit thinking about how easy it’ll be to climb back out, how you could do it right then if you wanted, then climb out and die.  On Friday morning, I got up at 3:45 AM, packed my camp and started hiking.  I had made a mistake.   The trail I took down has several places to refill water bottles and has lots of shade.  The trail I took up is more exposed and does not have any water spigots.  You’re supposed to do them the other way around.  I left early to avoid the sun.  I took a lot of photos on the way up: good excuse to take a break.  Here are a few:

And here I am at the top:

Doesn’t that grin just scream “I just walked a vertical mile”?

Then I ate buffalo wings and drove to Phoenix.

A Note on Hydration: It’s very important to stay well hydrated while hiking in the desert. I drank 2 liters of water before leaving my camp, 4 more on the way up, another at the top (plus 2 large orange juices!), and then 3 more liters on the road to Phoenix.  That’s about 3 gallons of liquid before 6 PM.  A personal record.

Grand Canyon, pt. 2

June 19, 2010

On Thursday morning I awoke at 4 AM and packed my camp in the dark, worried of course about bears.  I drove into the park, readied my pack and started hiking the 9.5 mile trail to the Bright Angel Campground.  The sun was rising.  At the trailhead:

Along the way, I met a deer:

And made it finally to the mighty Colorado:

Then I crossed this bridge:

And made it to the camp before 10 AM.  The base of the canyon is a desert.  100 degrees in the shade.  A stream runs through the camp.  The water is freezing cold.  Neither sitting in it nor standing in the sun is comfortable.  I spent most of my time sitting in the canteen at the Phantom Ranch, a lodge near the campground.  They have filtered water and running toilets and snacks and shirts and beer sold at New York prices.  Not bad, considering it all got there on the backs of mules.  One of the staffers explained her lifestyle: “I hike out, I go shoe shopping, I go to Vegas, I’m like everybody else, but the rest of the time I live down here.”  Charming place.

Grand Canyon, pt. 1

June 19, 2010

Before I went there, I grouped the Grand Canyon with places like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower.  You know, I’m glad I’ve been to those places but they’re covered in people and shorter than buildings and not inspiring.  Check em off.  But the Grand Canyon is different: it’s a giant fucking canyon.  It’s giant-fucking-canyon-ness cannot be over-emphasized.  I mean, they pretty much named it that, in a PG sort of way.  I mean, look:

Except instead of being small and on a computer screen, it’s massive and a real thing.

I arrived on a Tuesday and wanted to hike to the bottom and camp by the Colorado.  I couldn’t get a permit to do that until Thursday, so I spent two nights camping in the Kaibab national forest just outside the park, cooking hot dogs and potatoes and telling myself ghost stories.  Well, bear stories.  Every time I heard a noise in the wood, I thought I was done for.  Not even sure there are bears there: the park materials don’t mention ’em.  One night, I heard a crack and shined my light into a set of eyes off in the distance.  Convinced it was a bear, I blasted my car radio and flashed my headlights.  Whatever it was, that got it.


June 8, 2010

I drove to Sedona, not Flagstaff.  Canyons!  Walnut Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon.  Cathedral Rock:

And then my first view of the Grand Canyon:

That’s not in Sedona.

Canyon Friends

June 7, 2010

A scraggly Navajo fellow wandered into my campsite on the rim of Canyon de Chelly.  I was reading when he arrived.  He was drunk.  He learned I was from New York and was impressed, and I couldn’t shake him.  His friend Dave joined us.   They immediately pulled out their identification papers, as if to comfort me.  It didn’t comfort me.  Dave showed me his prisoner identification card, which was split in half and taped together.  He got out a couple months ago.  Dave was less drunk, and he explained that they had taken some peyote.  They passed an Evian bottle between them, filled with a mixture of vodka and peyote, so they claimed.  Alcohol is illegal inside the Navajo nation.  They invited themselves to sit down with me.  I was nervous. I tried to insinuate that they should leave, making reference to my desire to get back to my reading.  This only made Dave interested in my book, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.  He read the jacket slowly.  The scraggly man explained that his son had just graduated from high school.  He then began to cry.  His son was disappointed in him because they never go fishing together.  Because the father is too drunk.  Because the son had to buy him a hamburger the other night at 11 pm because he had no money.  I didn’t know how to respond.  Thankfully Dave interrupted: what does “threeving” mean?  He meant thriving, a word he read in the last sentence of the book jacket:  “a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.”  I didn’t want to respond.  Better to comfort a drunk man twice your age or explain why you’re reading a book about the white man killing Indians to an Indian ex-con?  I swatted a bug.  The conversation was dropped.  They tried to teach me how to say “bug” in Navajo.  It’s something like “Cho-si” but I mispronounced it.  The way I said it, it sounded like a dirty word.  They laughed and tried to teach me a couple other words, “thank you” and “friend.”  They laughed at my pronunciation some more.  Dave told a bad joke, a pun.  He started reading my book again, flipping it open to random pages.  He seemed to like it.  I told him he could have it, I was only 8 pages in.  He said no.  I said it was a gift.  He said he didn’t have time to read it.  If he wouldn’t read it, I’d keep it, but if he would read it, I wanted him to have it.  He tucked it into his shirt.  One passage he read was about a skull.  He told me there was a skull in the canyon, from maybe 1736.  It still has sideburns.  It’s surrounded by cave paintings.  They could take me to it, it was a full moon, we could see.  I was not about to go hunt a skull in a canyon in the dark with a couple of drunk guys.  Dave just got out, remember?  Maybe I would be the skull.  I had to wake up early, I told them, had to get on the road. Dave went off to the bathroom.  The scraggly man remembered his son, his son’s disappointment.  He teared up again.  He asked me for wisdom.  I dodged.  Dave was taking too long in the bathroom.  The scraggly man asked me to get him out of this place.  Drive him to LA, to Flagstaff at least.  Dave came back.  Let’s go to the skull in the morning, he suggested.  Get some beers and head down into the canyon at 10 AM.  Then I could drive them to Flagstaff.  They were drunk and wouldn’t let me say no.  I agreed to meet them at 10 at the campsite.  Dave asked me to hold on to his sunglasses and the book until the morning.  He didn’t want to lose them.  Fine.  They left.  I woke up at 6 AM and packed my campsite.  I left the glasses on the table.  And the book with a note.  I wasn’t about to Indian give actual Indians.  Then I sped off, stopped for gas and coffee, and drove to Flagstaff by myself.  `

Canyon de Chelly

June 5, 2010

Oh man, great canyon week this year.  Hope all y’all’s was equally good.  Still awaiting some stories…

My canyon week began in Canyon de Chelly (pronounce “de shay”), within the Navajo nation in northeastern Arizona.  It’s beautiful, see:

But it’s also dangerous:

I was scared:


June 1, 2010

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to acknowledge the kick off of canyon week yesterday (I was in a canyon) and sorry I didn’t have an opportunity this morning to detail yesterday’s canyon adventures (I was in a different canyon) and sorry I can’t expand on those adventures now (I’ve got to head up to another canyon) and will be unable to do so for the rest of this week (canyon), but I promise detailed posts this weekend about my canyon week. Now, if any of you readers are doing anything special to celebrate canyon week, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!