Out Among Wolves

Out Among Wolves

My youngest son Jake and I decided on a trip to the Eastern Arizona Highlands where there are the best opportunities for finding solitude.
We drove for close to five hours to the Blue range Primitive area in East Central Arizona near the New Mexican border. This pristine area is familiar to only a few.
This is the area where the Mexican wolves (Lobos) have been released. Lobo restoration has gained considerable public support, however some locals still regard killing wolves as an affirmation of community values. The Lobo is the most endangered wolf in North America.
We arrived at the KP Cienga Campground late in the afternoon in the middle of a thunderstorm, which is common for this time of year. The quaking aspens had already started to turn to their brilliant yellow fall color.
The campground is at 9000 ft. and overlooks beautiful meadows. It was deserted with the exception of one woman that had been there for a week scouting the Elk.
That afternoon we started hearing animal sounds that we had never heard before. At first I thought it was an Elk bugleing; then coyotes. Jake described the noise as a “banshee” sound”. He inquired, “Is that wolves?”
I never expect to see a wolf in the wilderness, they are too wary, but my fondest hope is to someday perhaps hear one. Could this dream have come true? I wasn’t convinced-UNTIL-that night we had dinner at the Hannagan Meadows Lodge and chatted with a wrangler that was familiar with wolves and had heard some that morning. She described the sound as “one that you have never heard before” and it matched our description of what we heard. I was still not convinced.
The following morning I asked the lone camper about the sounds.. “Those were wolves Mr., in fact I watched one of them meander through the meadow the other day. At first I thought it was a coyote, it was so scrawny, but when I looked in the binoculars I knew it was a wolf. It had a radio collar on.”
The next day we enjoyed a great 10 mile round trip hike down KP Creek that dropped steadily for 2500 feet through dense Canadian zone forests of Engelmann Spruce, white fur, Douglas fur and quaking Aspen. We felt a profound sense of remoteness and intimacy on this hike.


"OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH California nights, When I'm walkin with you, hand in hand by the shore" Lesley Gore-California Nights -1967

Highlights of this trip include:-Drinks at the Fisherman on the San Clemente wharf, catching brilliantsunsets-Dining at the Harbor Grill in Dana Point-Hiking in the Cleveland National Forest to the Holy Jim Falls-Shopping at the Sawdust at Laguna Beach-Walking Cody on beach after beach after beach-Checking out the Surfer's museum in Oceanside-Visiting great friends and relativesLast Wednesday we left the Arizona inferno of hot winds and forest firesand headed for the coast. This was Cody's first trip to California and sherefused to lay down in the back seat. I threatened her with a "don't makeme turn this car around" and she immediately threw up on the seat, It wasa long, hot trip across the desert.However, when we arrived it was paradise, the cool sea breezes and mildweather felt so good.We stayed at Stefanie's condo while she was housesitting for friends. Hercats remained at with us and Cody terrorized them into hiding until themiddle of the night when they would come out and meow and then the furwould fly.An extreme adventure was had by all when we drove a washboarded backroadthat horrified Stef and then hiked to the Holy Jim Waterfalls, accompaniedby millions of gnats. We really got a nice aerobic work out swatting atthem while we hiked. The waterfalls were real pretty, but Gerry did notthink it was a fun trip? Stef reported that she had a fun time, in spite ofthe life threatening trip on the back road.Stef and Gerry enjoyed visiting with Tracy and her new baby. We all enjoyedseeing family at Alan & Sue's barbecue at their beautiful home in LagunaNiguel.El Lobo, always on the lookout for the ultimate souvenir scored two of hisfinest to date-- A Saint Christopher medal with a surfer on the back wasfound at the Surfer's Museum-Too cool! Saint Christopher is the patronsaint of travelers. I used to have one of these when I was at Reno HighSchool. I think an old girl friend stole it.I also found a Killer Dana Surf Shop tank top at the Killer Dana Surf Shop.Very cool!We were treated to dinner at the Harbor Grill by the owner, John Hicks. Ihave known John since we were in the seventh grade at Northside, Jr., HighSchool in Reno. John sat with us and we had a really fun evening.The food was nothing short of terrific. John and his wife Wanda have reallyworked hard to have such a fine, successful restaurant. He has done verywell for a guy that came out of the Northside hood. We really appreciatedhis generosity.Well, that California culture keeps rolling on, and we have returned toArizona and the monsoons.Thanks to Stefanie for her great hospitality and friendship.I will end this report with the legendary classic Surfari hit "Surfer Joe"released in 1963, the greatest year for surf music. Perhaps it will helpyou to do some California dreamin or to remember those wonderful days of"T-shirts, cutoffs, and a pair of thongs." Or perhaps you will find itbizarre and troubling that any one remembers such a song.(Embedded image moved to file: pic02715.jpg)"Down in Doheny where the surfers all go,There's a big bleached blondie named Surfer Joe,He's got a green surf board and a woody to match,and when he rides the freeways, man is he hard to catch.Surferrrrrrr Joe, now look at him gooooooo,Surfer, surferrrrrrr Joooe,Go man goooooooooSaw him one day flying down the road with 26 surfboards and a 100lb. load,I knew where he was headin, tryin to reach, the playground of thesurfers-Doheny BeachSurferrrrrrr Joe, now look at him gooooooo,Surfer, surferrrrrrr Joooe,Go man goooooooooOOOOOOOHHHHHHH, Surfer JoeHe went down to Huntington beach one week, for the annual surfersconvention meet,he was hangin five and walkin the nose and when the meet was over thetrophy was Joe'sSurferrrrrrr Joe, now look at him gooooooo,Surfer, surferrrrrrr Joooe,Go man goooooooooOOOOOOOHHHHHHH, Surfer JoeSurfer Joe joined uncle Sam's marines one day, they stationed him atPendleton, not far awaythey cut off his long blonde locks I'm told, and when he went on maneuvers,Joe caught cold!Surferrrrrrr Joe, now look at him gooooooo,Surfer, surferrrrrrr Joooe,Go man goooooooooOOOOOOOHHHHHHH, Surfer JoeNowwwwwwThat didn't stop him or keep him way, when the surf was up he still had hisdayThey caught him at the trestle down by the sea and now poor Joe is doingK.P.Surferrrrrrr Joe, now look at him gooooooo,Surfer, surferrrrrrr Joooe,Go man goooooooooOOOOOOOHHHHHHH, Surfer Joe"


Kaibab-Bright Angel Loop

Kaibab/Bright Angel Loop -17 miles -9000' elevation gain/lossJake and I left on Saturday afternoon for a day trip into the Great Canyon.We spent the evening in Cameron at the Cameron trading post and enjoyed anice trout dinner.We rose at 4:00 A.M. and drove to the South Rim and caught a shuttle to theKaibab trailhead. They now run shuttles every half hour starting an hourbefore dawn. This was Jake's inaugural hike into the Canyon. We leftKaibabat 6:40.A.M. A ranger at the trailhead questioned anyone going down as totheir itinerary and strongly recommended not going to the river and out asthis was an extremely dangerous hike in the heat. After identifying myselfasEl Lobo Grande, the ranger really insisted that we rconsider our travelplans?The hike down Kaibab was great, we saw few people and the canyon lookedgorgeous. We arrived at Phantom Ranch at 9:00 A.M. and went into theInn/Canteen and enjoyed snacks and Lemonade. I bought the boy a PhantomRanchhat to keep this fun experience with him while he is in graduate school.We spent some time at the creek and left at 10:00 A.M. The thermometer wasat the century mark.Jake set a tremendous pace and we arrived at Indian Gardens at 11:30.A.M.This was going way too fast and I expressed concern for saving energy forthelast two miles.The temperature had gone down to a cool 99, and I was really hoping that wewould get some cloud cover for the final 2500' ascent.The familiarity ofthistrail and memories of the arduous climb were overshadowed by Jake'spleasureand appreciation of the experience. We rested at Indian Gardens until noon.We were fortunate to get some cloud cover going out but it was hot! Ialwaysswear that I will never ever go into the Canyon in the heat of summer butalways end up doing it anyway.Jake kept up a breakkneck pace, and we ended up using every bit that we hadto get out the last two miles. The trail from here was cluttered with spenthikers and noisy tourist fools.We finished at 2:00P.M -much too fast. This was done at close to 20 minutemiles.I downed a pint in the bar and we took off for the four hour drive home.This was the real scary part. If Jake was fast on the trail he was fasteronI17. I drove to Flag and from here he flew home. I was white knuckeled thewhole way.Overall, this was a fun trip, but a very long day day. I feel fortunate tobeable to share a part of the world's greatest geographic area with my son.We are delaying our North Bass Backpack scheduled for next weekend becauseof work conflicts, but am planning on a three day trip into the rugged,remote Mazatzals with Bob Shea.I believe that we will start at City Creek, by Payson and go to FullerSeep.This will be a 4500' climb, but should put us in the cool country.

Escalante Route-Hofdahl TR

Tanner, Escalante Route, New Hance TrailsThe trip was originally scheduled to be a four day back pack with Steve,Bruce Corey(El Lobo Grande), James Cabanas and myself. I was especiallylooking forward to this trip because it was my first back pack in the GrandCanyon. I have back packed before in California, but I knew that thiswouldbe a special challenge. I was saddened to learn that my former boss, SteveYahner, would not be able to make the trip. He felt that It would be toocold. I had day hiked the canyon seven times this year and I really wantedto complete this journey.We started on Thursday driving up to Cameron and staying at the TradingPostMotel. I was impressed with the accommodations, the food wasn't bad andthe company was great. The three of us shared a room and it worked outwell. Between James' snoring and Bruce's coffing, I did get some sleep. Iwas a little concerned because I knew that we only had two tents. I wasthinking about the nights to come and I was mostly worried about sleepingwith James' snoring. I made a decision that night that I was going tosharea tent with Bruce( El Lobo Grande).We started the next day driving to the Tanner trail head. I backed up mySuburban in the parking lot thinking it was in a nice position. Brucethought it was too obvious that we were gone for several days. I reparkedit in a less obvious position. In hindsight, he was probably right. Hehasmuch more experience than I. We started down the Tanner trail at about tento eight in the morning. It was cold and overcast, we immediately put onour gloves and hats. I was thinking that this might be a cold affair thatImight later regret. The trail was steep for the first hour and a half.Theweather began to clear and we became warmer. The views were awesome and Ithink as a group, we were beginning to achieve a positive attitude that wenever lost throughout the trip. We proceeded down the Tanner to the end atTanner rapid. We landed at the Colorado at about one in the afternoon. Aswe were looking for a campsite, we met a young couple who had already foundtheir campsite. We talked to them for just five minutes. The young womanwas impressive with her knowledge of Grand Canyon. She was nice lookingtoo.She informed us that the Escalante would be difficult, but that we couldgetto a point along the Colorado that we could camp and get water. She didindicate that the New Hance trail was difficult to hike out. We set up campand relaxed for a short while.After we set up camp, we had some trouble with James' water purificationsystem. He recently changed the filter and It really didn't work well.Thefilter was spitting out the carbon resin in the receptacles. I was alittleuneasy, but I thought I would just go along with it and see what happens.The three of us were so positive that It wasn't going to be a show stopper.I truly loved the camp site. We were right next to the Tanner rapids oftheColorado and the weather was awesome. I would say it was almost midsixties.I slept well even though Bruce coffed a lot and he had to get up in themiddle of the night to go to the bathroom. The night did get a littlecool,slightly below forty.We went to sleep early at about six thirty. I brought a fitting book, "TheMan Who Walked Trough Time", by Colin Fletcher. I read two chapters asBruce tried to sleep and negotiate his cold. We planned to wake atfive-thirty only to wake up an hour late. We began our day with greatweather and made our way over the Escalante route. The breakfast was goodfor Bruce and I, but not for James. The Granola that he consumed justdidn't agree soon later.The trail was very beautiful. It basically paralleled the river. Wereally wanted to get to a similar campsite along the river. We hiked alongsome very exposed trails and then down into the Escalente creek. Brucecontacted the Grand Canyon Field Institute to get some short cuts. We cameupon the impressive Seventy-five mile creek/ canyon and Bruce wasdeterminedto find these cairns to lead us to a short cut. He became a little shortwith me, as I was leading the crew. We were only about 500 yards away fromthe cairns when he decided that I wasn't paying close attention. Weregrouped and hiked back a short while. We then decided that we hadn'tgonefar enough only to find the short-cut. The short cut did have some greatrewards and we were all in awe of the Seventy-five mile creek.We thought we were close to our destination of Hance rapids only to findsome hairy climbs at Papago Creek. He had to scale on all fours late intheday. We made it to Hance right at dusk and we were needless to say, verytired. It was a fifteen mile trek in all, a very long day.The camp site at Hance rapid was just as good as Tanner rapid. We didn'tsee a sole. The only problem was that Bruce kicked over my new candlelantern accidentally. It was then that I felt that Bruce's nick nameshouldbe changed to "El Toro Grande". I really felt he is best described as a"Bull in a china store". I think that the cold that he was fighting was sofrustrating for him. We went to sleep at about eight-thirty. I read for ashort time, but I was pretty tired from the long day. We slept reasonablywell and knew that we had a big day ahead of ourselves to climb the nextmorning.We began our trek out at about nine-thirty on Sunday. The New Hance wasbeautiful. It is also called Red Canyon as you hike through the first thirdin all red canyon. It is steep and we just kept going on. We realizedthatwe were completing a four day hike in three days. I think that Bruce and Iwanted to hike out. James wouldn't have minded staying another night. Heflew in from Sacramento and wanted to get four days worth. He also luggedalarge camera and a tripod the whole way. We were concerned about campingincold weather mostly and Bruce's cold was beginning to bother him. The NewHance trail was just as the woman described, difficult. I hiked out atfour-fifteen to catch a ride to the Tanner trail head to drive my Suburbanback to pick up Bruce and James. They made it out at five-fifteen. It wasalready below forty degrees and it felt cold.It was a great accomplishment, I really felt like all we did was hike. Wereally didn't get much time to relax. As I look back at the hike, Irealized that New Hance is not for the meek. I really enjoyed getting toknow Bruce"El Toro Grande" and James Cabanas.

Topacoba Route Grand Canyon

"Live the life that you imagine,What is your next great adventure?"The Topocoba trail to Havasupai is seldom used today. It is marked on theGrand Canyon Trails Illustrated map but I do not know anyone who has hikedit. Thousands of tourists each year, with Havasupai as their destination,instead, travel the 10 mile long Hualapai trail that is well worn and easywalking.The Topocoba hilltop trail was the old mail route into the village ofSupai.This route traverses one of the highest terraces in the Grand Canyon.Permission from the Havasupai Tribe and the BRO at the Grand CanyonNationalPark is necessary to hike this route. This route crosses the Havasupai'sancestral lands that the tribe reveres as sacred.This was a special opportunity, as my friend Bob Audretsch, a Grand CanyonRanger had special permission from a council member, and invited me tojoinhim on this 20 +mile day hike.I drove to Tusyan Thursday afternoon and met Bob for a Pizza pig out (carboload)We then downed 2 quarts of Ben & Jerry's for the salt content. The nextmorning we got up at 2:00 A.M. and drove 37 miles of backroad. The road toPasture Wash turnoff as well as all the way out to Topocoba ismoderately rutted. Three Havasupai guys were collecting fees includingonewearing a side arm!!! They woke up at 4 AM when we came up!We had a high clearance 4wd vehicle but evenwith that we had to park about 3 miles from the trail top at thebeginning of the road going up onto Great Thumb. Near the top of thetrail we followed an apparently earlier trail going directly down LeeCanyon and found that washed out and thus cliffed out. Moving backup the trail we then moved slightly south and found the switchbacksthrough the Coconino. Once through the Coconino the trail generallyfollows the bed of Lee Canyon till it meets Havasu Canyon and then ofcourse follows Havasu Canyon north. Because of the recent rainsthere were significant potholes in the ravine bed filled with water.We saw no other people all the time we were out on the trail. We did seenumerous elk, 1 deer and three wild horses. There were many qualitypetroglyphs.The trail was surprisingly in decent condition. There was not a cloud inthe sky until late afternoon and we hiked out in 100+ temp. There is only2200' of elevation gain but most of it comes at the end.We finished hiking after 3:00 P.M. and I left Bob's at 5:45 and was home bynine. That is a best time for me. I have an early plane to catch tomorrowA.M. to Portland where I am visiting my son Jake as well as spending a weekat a Mountain Climber's lodge at Mt. Hood. I will be doing some volunteerwork on stream restoration of a tributary to the Salmon and hiking theWilderness areas around Mt. Hood.Tomorrow, Jake and I plan on doing a coast hike at Tilamook.

"The Window"

Fellow Adventrapaneurs,Good morning-"The Window" our destination, is a small natural arch in a blade of rockperched a vertical mile above Tuscon. When the sunlight strikes it at theproper angle, this natural hole in the wall is clearly visible from partsofTuscon.Esperro trail - 19 miles roundtrip-5140' elevation gain -trip rating 9.9I had been to the Window once before on a the Ventana Canyon route withJake,Andrew and Lorenzo last January. I have always wanted to do the challengingEsperro trail. My good friend and hiking Buddy John Hofdahl wanted achallenging hike so that created a great match and opportunity.We started on the trail at 8:00 A.M. with little visiibility. Threateningcloudcover and mist covered the Santa Catalina Range. The first part of thehike is in primo Sonoran desert. A forrest of impressive Saguaros alongwithprickly pair, mesquite trees, brittlebrush, ocotillo, and paloverde. Thenextpart follows Esperro creek with sycamores and some comparatively large oaksgrowing among the jumble of canyon boulders. Water was everywhere!Beautifulstreams coming down from the cliffs. We reached bridalveil falls at 11:00A.M. The thirty foot falls were gushing with a soothing beauty. There weresome impressive specimens of Arizona cypress across the creek.This would bean excellent place to camp if backpacking.Here we began climbing very steeply up through a thickening forrest coverofPonderosa pines and overarching White Oaks. At a saddle the view wasawesome.The clouds had cleared and we had a feast of the eyes.Your view is the rugged headwaters of Montrose Canyon and it stretches tothe pyramid of Rincon peak in the Rincon mountains. From this saddle thetrail really gets steep and we arrived at "the Window" at 1:00 P.M. The trails were very feint and confusing here. The top was covered by cloudsandmist and visibility again was only a few feet in front of you. We lost thetrail many times but were able to get back on track. Our time window forlight was in jeapordy and we did not want to be descending in the dark.The hike out ended up extremely enjoyable and scenic.Once back on track thegoing was smooth. We arrived back at the Sabino Canyon visitor center at5:00P.M. in plenty of light. The Steinlagers and Sierra Nevadas that Johnbroughtreally were a treat.That evening we celebrated at the Legendary "El Minuto" restaraunt inTempe.This hike is rated a 9.9. You travel through three distinct ecosystems.Thanks to John for driving and his excellent companionship.

Superstition Ridgeline

Give me silence, water, hopeGive me struggle, iron, volcanoes -Neruda

The Sierra club hike description asked the question "Are you ready for adawnto dusk test of your endurance? Lorenzo and I both foolishly answered yestothat question and were not disappointed.This hike involved a challenging ascent from Carney Springs to South peakandcontinued across the prominent ridgeline that defines the Western boundaryofthe Superstitions all the way past the flatiron and down Siphon Draw.For a good part of the hike we were looking down on Weaver's needle.At our break, Lorenzo casually mentioned that he had forgotten his lunch. Ioffered to share mine, but he politely declined. I think that Lorenzothoughtthat he would get El Lobo demerits if he ate some of my lunch. Later in thehike he reconsidered, and accepted a 1/2 piece of chicken. Lorenzo alwaysunselfishly shares his snicker bars with the group, so he had many creditsthat offset a possible demerit.After 9000' of elevation gain/loss and 12 overland miles of sufferingthroughsteep climbs and contact with prickly vegetation we pulled into LostDutchman's State Park to find that our ride was not there. He had quit andgone back before finishing the first mile. Sean, our ride, had my car keys,cellphone and gear and apparently went home with them. We finally reachedSean at home via the leader's cell phone, and found out that he had hid mystuff back at Carney Springs. So what's the problem? After a long drivebackto Carney Springs, searching and locating my bag I finally joined the restofthe group at a Mexican restaurant in Apache Junction. This particularSierraClub group are strong hardy hikers and friendly, fun people. The cervezasandmargaritas went down real smooth allowing for further dehydration of ourbodies.Dinner in Apache Junction was a slice of life. While waiting to use therestroom with a high sense of urgency, I was approached by a snowbird thatdemanded that he be next to use the facility. He felt his age gave him priority. I explained that I really needed to go, but would be real quick.Hethen asked if we could share the same urinal.I opted to let him go ahead and did a dance waiting while he took forever.Iknocked on the door and pleaded with him and finally he exited and scowled"Wait till you get old" at me. I told him I was old, and my bladder was nowruined. He didn't appear to care.Overall, I rate this hike a 9.3. Great company, splendid views, and abrilliant display of wildflowers due to the wet winter.

Green Sporings Grand Canyon

"With some eagerness and some anxiety, and some misgiving, we enter the canyon below....."----John Wesley Powell, August 13, 1869Buenas tardes,My son Jake has been asking "where's that trip report?" I wonder where he learned to be such a bugger?Well, here it is. I barely have the energy to write it. Both feet are a blister mass and my ankles are so swollen I can hardly walk but El Lobo will deliver within the required two day time window!This expedition challenged me physically, mentally and emotionally but was a richly rewarding and immensely satisfying trip as well as a wonderful learning adventure.We visited a superbly beautiful and rarely visited area in an extremely remote location. We climbed to pristine parts of Green Springs Canyon where no other human being has been. Harvey Butchart, now 94, the undisputed king of extreme and obsessive Grand Canyon hiking, could not find access to some of the areas we visited, as documented in his book. Harvey logged over 12,000 miles in the Canyon.Eleven days ago I rode with one of the other participants, Ross, eight hours to St. George Utah. In St. George our group spent two days in thorough planning and pre-trip preparation. This included emergency planning. Actually the planning process began two months ago in researching how to get to our target area-Surprise Canyon and its tributaries. Back road access had to be determined. Geological maps were utilized to figure out some routes to Surprise Canyon and plan two itinerary options for a six day hike in the Surprise Canyon area. In addition various exercises had to be completed in order to make map reading and terrain recognition easier. The geological maps provided are special and cannot be easily obtained. They were donated to the group by George Billingsley who did the stratigraphy. George was a frequent hiking partner of Harvey Butchart and mentioned frequently in Harvey's books.After finalizing goals a consensus was reached for the route with alternatives. At this time we started the 100 mile rough back road drive through the Arizona strip and Shiwits plateau to our starting point climbing down steep loose rock into Green Springs Canyon. All packs were extremely heavy as each started with three gallons of water.The first day was vey hard as we encountered numerous narrow cliff passage challenges. It is a beautiful canyon with some nice water pools that required some swimming. One of our group took a nasty 30 foot fall and miraculously not only lived but also had no broken bones. He fell close to me where I was desperately trying to find a good hand hold. It was one of the scariest things I have ever seen.He stood up and smiled and said "I'm Ok." I was still in shock from watching his fall and even in more shock that he appeared all right. He was very fortunate, but had some real nasty cuts and his skin had been ripped from his legs. After three hours of emergency medical treatment, he opted to try to continue without attempting to radio a passing plane requesting emergency rescue. The weight of his pack was distributed among the group and he continued. We had to go on belay a couple of times. The injured party could not get his leg wet so he had to be carried by the group through pools that required swimming. The walking was extremely hard on the feet as you were absolutely required to "leave no trace" and always plant a foot on a rock and not leave any footprint. This was challenging but after a while became second nature.We finished walking just before dark and at our meeting that ended close to 11:00 everyone agreed that the highlight of the day was Ross appearing to escape serious injury. We would start each day around 6:00 A.M. and finish after 11:00 each night. My strategy was to just get through one day at a time. Ken, our leader was constantly coaching and teaching. When passage seemed impossible it was used as a group problem solving exercise. Teamwork, determination, and creativity would get us through. I learned that there is a way, keep looking!The following day we made it to Cottonwood Springs, through a gorgeous narrow redwall canyon with pools and lush growth of ferns, flowers and cottonwoods. Monarch butterflies would frequently flutter through the narrow gorge. Frogs, whose croak sounded like a bleating sheep were everywhere. This was a long day with only one rappel required on a down pour.The next day we day hiked to Hidden Springs---Shangra La. A lush riparian area with vines, ferns and moss.We had to carry the injured party through some pretty good pools and rope up a couple of times to get to a 40 ft. Natural bridge, that we believe has never been seen by other human eyes. This was very exciting!The next day's destination was Amos Springs. One of my goals was to get to the river and I requested permission to go solo since the rest of the group was intent on Amos Springs. Our leader gave me permission but commented that he thought that I would later be sorry. The river was a 24 mile round trip down Surprise Canyon dropping 1200' in elevation. The temperature was in the nineties but there was plenty of water flowing in Surprise Canyon. I left at 9:00 A.M. and the walking was on jagged rocks and boulders. My turn around time plan was 1:30. I arrived at the river at 2:00. The walk, although difficult was enjoyable having such solitude. The river was very peaceful at mile 248. The mighty Colorado that I rafted in September was not to be found, it was more of a lake due to Mead backing up. Clouds had been forming and I heard my first thunder. This was both frightening and exciting. This part of the Canyon is narrow and I did not want to get caught in it. It started raining hard and all I could think of was those that died in the flash flood at Antelope Canyon in 97. In my haste to get out of the narrow part I got caught in some deep mud and my boots and socks were drenched. I walked as quick as I could all the while looking for ways to go high if it kept raining. The thunderstorm lasted a half hour and then cleared. Unfortunately due to sliding socks, I started to blister and had to stop and try to contain them with tape. Going back was slower than going down and with it getting dark I could really feel the blistered pain.I made it back to camp at 9:00 P.M. and the group just started an emergency strategy meeting exploring the options in case I did not show. This served as a good exercise for the group. I went to bed at midnight and rose at 4:30 A.M. to break camp for the long hot trek out Twin Springs to where we had shuttled a car. This was about 4000' of elevation gain.My blisters needed attention and our leader coached me through draining, treating and bandaging them. I was able to keep a good pace but the pain was a little less than excruciating on every step. The redwall narrows were spectacular and we found a large chockstone lodged between the narrow walls up about 25.' The walk up Twin Springs drainage was arduous and at a break in the shade we were given an adrenaline rush when a very large pink rattlesnake crawled next to our leader causing him to do a somersault to get out of harms way when he heard the rattle warning. We had what we thought was our last challenge when we arrived at the 500' steep loose rock climb to the car. This was a slow process and some had real difficulty at this point in the journey.Finally all were at the top and we all took hands and tried to skip to the car. We reached the car and the jubilation turned to disbelief and dismay when the shuttle vehicle did not start. Another strategy meeting and plan formulated. The other vehicles were fifteen miles away. It was decided to walk the back road that night leaving most of our group at the shuttle car.At 3:00 A.M. the hikers arrived with the cars. On the way, one had a flat. Could anything else go wrong? Yes! One of the vehicles had it's keys locked in it by a very tired driver. Again, the team worked together to find a solution and was able to take a wire from one of the packs and slip it through the rear window and open. We then started the long drive back to the hotel at St. George. We arrive at 6:30 A.M. got our rooms, showered and met for breakfast. I called Gerry to let her know I was out.Ross and I started driving back to Phoenix at 10:00 after gallons of coffee and coke.We stopped at Vermilion Cliffs for a nice lunch and swapped driving every few hours. There was a slight delay on 17 backing up with weekend traffic, but I was dropped offclose to 6:00, in time to share a great steak dinner with my lovely and thoughtful wife that I was very happy to see.As I am finishing this trip report with my swollen ankles and achy feet it is difficult to fully appreciate how special this trip was and the tremendous growth and learning experiences. That will happen soon, when the pain stops.Note: the fallen climber prefers to remain anonymous

Hualapai Mountain Park

The great one was in town this weekend, my good friend and climbing partner,
Hannu Haarma arrived right on schedule at 2:15 Saturday afternoon. Hannu, recently won the USA orienteering championship. He will be competing for the world title this summer.
The morning was spent on a long bike ride with Gerry and a nice walk with Lucy. We also had time to watch a good PBS video put together by John Denver before his death. This was a very thoughtful gift from my favorite Aunt Jean. John Denver was a strong voice for wildlife and wilderness as well as the freedom and spirit of the American west. He opened up an environmental consciousness for many of us in the 70s. His voice remains an inspiration. You may enjoy "Let this be a voice". Back to the adventure.
When Hannu comes to town there are some constants. We drive a long distance, do a challenging hike, drink some beer and just have a great time. This weekend was not an exception.
We took off for Hualapai Mountain Park about 2:30P.M. and arrived in Kingman at 5:45P.M.
We stopped for gourmet cheeseburgers at Burger King and overcame our first big challenge, that of being locked out of the rental car and not being able to use the keys to get in. Hannu got only mildly excited, with
an occasional Finnish curse gracing the parking lot.
The great one and I finally figured out that the trunk key also was the key to the door.
Small delay, now to Hualapai Park.
The park which was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps covers 2,300 acres at elevations ranging from 4,984 ft. to 8,417 ft. at the top of Hualapi Peak. The environment in the Hualapais is similar to Prescott National Forrest and the South rim of the Grand Canyon. Vegetation includes Ponderosa pine, pinion, white fur, aspen, gambel oak, and manzanita. The mountains are named for the Hualapai Indians. The name Hualapai means "Pine tree people."
We stayed at one of the rustic rental cabins. These are the best kept secret in Arizona. The cabins rent for $25 to $55 a night and all have showers with stove and kitchen facilities. Most have fireplaces or wood burning stoves and all with wall heaters. This mountain park run by Mojave County parks dept. offers a great alternative to spending a summer weekend in the White Mountains, Flagstaff, Prescott, or the Mogollon Rim.
Saturday evening was spent drinking Steinlagers and watching the stars in the great Arizona sky by the fire built outside our cabin in a pit.
Easter morning we rose early to start up the trail leading to the craggy Hualapai peak. Among Hualapai's attractions are the trail system. They are quite nice.
It was a beautiful morning with some of the bluest sky that I have ever seen. After 4 miles, the last one in snow, and a couple of thousand feet of elevation gain we came to within 200 feet of the summit. The only problem was that there was no trail, only a rock climb with quite a pitch. We tried a couple of routes unsuccessfully but Hannu found
a way that was a little dicey but doable. At the top was a rock with only room for two-perfect! The views are panoramic the only spoiler was a slight haze, probably from Las Vegas. On the way back, Hannu, not satisfied with bagging the highest peak, suggested that we climb another. I said "Lets do it!" but really thought Damn!
So, we climbed to just below the bottom of Aspen Peak at a little over 8,000 feet and again was faced with a pretty good vertical pitch to get to the top. Hannu was not interested in going to the top but I had to pay him back for finding the way up Hualapai, so I led us up a slightly less difficult route.
After coming down I was afraid that he would want to climb yet a third- Hayden Peak,
but to my relief he was more interested in the Amstel light at the end of the trail, so we took the potato patch trail back to the car.
We arrived back in Scottsdale at 4:30P.M. Hannu headed back to his hotel to clean up and would meet us for dinner later. In the mean time Ger and I attended a veinte cinco anniversario for our housekeeper and amiga-Luscilva, at her home. It was a large party with over fifty in attendance, including two other gringos. The music was loud, the food was good. This was really fun and we thoroughly enjoyed a rich cultural experiece, and a big improvement over the corporate social crap I used to do.
We left the party after a couple of hours and met Hannu at Az88. We had a very nice Easter dinner that Hannu graciously treated us to. Gerry had her signature best looking in the world Martini, and Hannu and I treated ourselves to Chimay beer made by trappis monks in Belgium. This is pricey at $14 a bottle but absolutely a unique taste and well worth it! Particularly when Hannu is buying! Highly recommended.

Southern California-Disney Adventure Park

Gerry and I just returned from four great days of fun and adventure in Southern California. The weather was superb! This was El Lobo's first trip back to the city of Angels (or city of water thieves, depending on your point of view) Many love to hate Los Angeles, particularly Northern Californians. Why? Is it jealousy of the weather, beaches, and the movie stars?This mini vacation included:-Disney's brand new California Adventure park-Dining at "Chez Mimi" in Brentwood and "The Lobster" in Santa Monica-Running and relaxing on the beach in Malibu-Touring the UCLA campus, including the legendary Pauley Pavilion -Rolling power blackoutsWe arrived early at the Disney California Adventure park and were quite surprised and delighted to find no crowds or lines. Apparently the park has not yet been drawing. Our first ride was "Soaring over California." This ride is truly wonderful!!!! It is rated a solid, exhilarating 10. On a simulated flight, in an IMAX technology, we soared from Los Angeles to the Golden Gate Bridge, then to Yosemite, then to Tahoe, then Napa then the storied coast. The whole trip was worth it for this one singular experience!! Gerry was a great sport and reluctantly agreed into going on the Grizzly River run, a roaring white water raft adventure. We were both totally soaked when we got out. California Adventure Park is as close as you will get to Grizzlies in California as they were all killed long ago. Reintroduction is being considered.After downing the biggest chocolate cream puff in the world, the sugar rush helped us complete most attractions and adventures. "Its tough to be a Bug" is a humorous, amazing 3D adventure. One of it's stars was the "silent, but deadly" stink bug. This attraction is lots of fun. The California Screamin roller coaster goes from zero to 55 in less than 5 seconds. El Lobo went solo on this one.The park is a true slice of the myth of California and well worth some vacation time. There have been few adventures away from the natural world that El Lobo has enjoyed. California Adventures is one. I absolutely loved it. Ahhhhhh California----------------- The whole state of California thrives and survives by moving water and rearranging the God given hydrology. The economy is richer than all but seven nations in the world, and it grows one third of the table food in the US and none of it within the preexisting natural order. About two-thirds of the state receives under 20" of precipitation a year. Marc Reisner wrote in Cadillac Desert---"California, it fools it's visitors into believing it is lush, is a beautiful fraud"The freeway ride back to the hotel in Bel Air was more California screaming as we survived the aggressive drivers and the slow downs caused by two accidents.On the radio we heard the news that John (Papa) Phillips had passed away and we were saddened. John's haunting melodies propagated the California dream or myth as did the Beach Boys.Mama Cass and John Phillips are gone from this world, but their music and message will last forever.So long John, thanks for the gifts.So what is the real California? Myth, fraud, or dream?I choose DREAM

Aqua Fria Canyon

On Sunday I went on an exploratory trek down Agua Fria Canyon with the Sierra club. Agua Fria was designated a National Monument early in 2000. It is located about 40 miles north of Phoenix and contains two mesas-Perry Mesa and Black Mesa. It is 71,000 acres of semi-desert that includes rich riparian habitat along the Agua Fria River. The Agua Fria headwaters are in Bradshaws, close to Prescott and it flows into Lake Pleasant. This monument contains some of the most prehistoric sites in the Southwest. There are at least 450 prehistoric sites inside the monument. This area suffers from its proximity to the sprawling Phoenix area and has been subject to vandalism. This is one of the monuments that "W" is trying to roll back. This area definitely needs protection. One of our hiking party is taking a Congressman through the area on Wednesday. He has formed, and I have joined "Friends of Agua Fria",an activist group formed to protect the status of the monument. The hiking group was an assortment of people that I have hiked with before with one exception, EARTH CHILD. EARTH CHILD has just moved to Arizona from Michigan seeking spirituality. She attended this hike to make a connection with the spirits.EARTH CHILD did not know about REI or Popular outfitters and showed up dressed in a full length heavy gray robe with leather sandals on her feet. She also was sporting quite a bit of Indian type jewelry. El Lobo wanted to bark at her but suspecting that at some time in her life she may have indulged in smoking marijuana (or peyote) thought she could be dangerous and opted to be friendly and converse with her. Moonbeam, was her name, and she had spent time on Max's farm at Woodstock and also was in San Francisco during the 67 summer of Love. At various times during the hike she would inquire about what would happen and how would she know if she were bitten by a rattlesnake or Gila Monster. Finally after asking for the tenth time I told her that if she was bitten by a Gila monster she would know, because they like the snapping turtles of Michigan don't let go once they bite. She would have to carry the Gila monster with her and have it surgically removed. More on Moonbeam later.Agua Fria is awesome country with spectacular scenery. We boulder hopped down about 4 miles and had lunch at a waterfall. The trip required many river crossings, some almost chest deep due to recent rains. The terrain consisted of box canyons, sandy beaches and jagged cliffs. This would be an excellent hot weather destination as there are many swimming pools along the way. Brilliant displays of wildflowers dotted the country side that included desert phlox, chicory, crownbeard, gilla, larkspur, and buckwheat. The claret cup cactus (also known as strawberry cactus) was in full bloom. We encountered many Monarch butterflies. There were frequent displays of petroglyphs. It was magnificent! I believe that it is every bit as beautiful as the primo Aravaipai Canyon located in the middle of Arizona. Moonbeam was too busy complaining and worried about getting bit to notice the splendid scenery.On the way to lunch Moonbeam fell of the side into the river and required a minor rescue operation. Her coat was thoroughly water logged and now weighed fifty pounds! At lunch, Moonbeam was shivering and we gave her a space blanket to prevent hypothermia. It was quite cool when the sun went behind the clouds.Jim, our leader was very patient with Moonbeam and left early from lunch for a head start and to personally guide her out of peril.When we returned to our cars we found Moonbeam in good condition and eager for her next Arizona outing. When asked how she liked the hike she smiled and slowly said--"Far out"


Shinimu-Marble Canyon-Grand Canyon

Shinimu Wash-Marble/Grand Canyon - 12 miles-5000’ elevation gain and loss

Our group of five included my son Jake, friends and hiking partners Dan, Lorenzo, and John left around 7:00 Friday evening and stopped in Flag for dinner and libations at the Beaver Street Brewery. Our evening destination was our favorite staging area, the Cameron Trading Post. The Trading Post’s spacious rooms, nice restaurant and beautiful garden courtyard at a reasonable price, keeps us coming back. En route we were delayed over an hour on highway 89 due to a fatal collision involving a Semi. We had earlier discussed the necessary caution of driving this road late on Friday evening due to the frequent level of accidents.
We arrived close to midnight and had to hunt down the Security guard for our room key. The Post closes at 9:00 P.M. We finally hit the rack close to 1:00 A.M.
In the morning we took Navajo road 6120 West at Cedar Ridge for 21 miles to the trailhead. We followed the directions laid out in Steck’s Loop Hikes II and they were right on. Bill Orman’s input also very helpful.
We were on the well used horse trail at 9:15 A.M.
Note: This hike was featured in the September issue of Arizona Highways. The article categorized the route a “tough trek” on an “elusive, little –used trail”. The author of the article wrote that her group had lost the trail countless times and had to build cairns to help find their way back. This group ran out of water halfway to their destination so you can take it from there.
The facts are that this trail is extremely well defined and over cairned, probably due to their distribution. The article’s author could perhaps benefit from some leave no trace education and possibly would be better suited to the main corridor trails.
This is a very easy rim to river route. I know that the difficulty factor is relative to the individual and their respective physical condition, skills, and experience, but this route requires just 5000’ elevation gain/loss with very little exposure.
The route was created by the Bureau of Reclamation’s in the 50s in an attempt to further Dam the Canyon.
Thank God the Sierra Club was able to obtain enough public support to put an early end to the project. Apparently, an urgent full page ad was put in the New York Times appealing for the protection of the Grand Canyon. If you have read Cadillac Desert, you may not be a big fan of the Bureau of Reclamation’s and the Army Corp of Engineers. These two agencies were purported to be in competition and built too many Dams that serve no useful purpose and did not have business case justification.
We hiked about six miles and followed the fence fault down to the River. There is a nice beach area but we opted to camp about twenty five feet above the Colorado. This site is in my all time top five. It provided us with a gorgeous quarter mile river view. We arrived at 1:00 P.M. and decided to set up camp and relax instead of continuing a couple of miles to Vasey’s Paradise. Having seen it from South Canyon there was no burning desire to get another glimpse. We enjoyed watching a private river party pass by late in the afternoon. Clad in their wet suits, the people on the numerous rafts and kayaks were having a great time. They smiled and waved. The sun sparkled brilliantly on the water.
The evening was spent sipping “Jack D” and enjoying the good cigars that Dan brought. Normally, I stay away from alcohol in the Canyon (Phantom Ranch the exception) but we were not real concerned with dehydration. There were a couple of water pockets on the trail. The temperature range was between 40 and 60 degrees, perfect for Canyon Hiking.

On the way out we were amazed to see a very large porcupine on the trail! Dan and John almost walked right into him. The big fella’s quills blended in perfectly with the brush. We were all delighted with this sighting. I never expected to run into a porcupine in the Canyon.

The last mile to the rim was a little challenging as you gain about 1000’.
The atmosphere at the rim was surrealistic. A beautiful, unique assembly of soft clouds in the sky, a snow covered North Rim to the West, and the colorful Vermilion Cliffs to the North plugged us into a feeling. We broke out the Sierra Nevada’s that Lorenzo brought and cranked up John’s CD player with “While my guitar gently weeps”. Toasts were made all around, hoisted in the direction of the heavens “to George Harrison.”
We again stopped at the Beaver Street Brewery for dinner and libations and got back to Scottsdale close to 7:00 P.M.
Overall this trip is rated a 9.7. It would have been a solid 10 if not for the over kill of cairns and the weak Arizona Highways article. Thanks to John for driving, and the time shared with my son and the group.

The Popular--- Men Behaving Badly Section

-John and EL Lobo not eating and drinking things at the Beaver Street Brewery that their stomachs and upper intestines could break down. Their stench and volume nearly killed the other three members of the group on the hike down. In addition, they both tried to blame each offensive ugly incident on the other. They both had the nerve to shout “Jeez” when the other did it!

-Famous Quote by John: “ I am humbly honored to now have hiked where Steve Yahner, Master Canyoneer, has not gone. In fact, Steve and El Lobo could not even find this trailhead last year. I am now at the advanced level! Wait until I tell my Dad! Steve told him I was a beginner.”

-Famous quote by Dan. “I have hiked in tougher terrain in the San Gabriels! You are not S*&T, John!

-El Lobo brought Bud Lights but drank the Pale Ales and left the Bud Lights for John.

Phantom Creek-Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon/Phantom Creek Field Institute overland trip

Five days, forty one miles, Approximately 15,000’ elevation gain/loss

After an orientation day on Sunday, our group headed down the South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch where we spent the evening. The group consisted of Maverick, 75 years young, Margaret, a retired school teacher, Tony a retired Army Sergeant/Major in the Special forces, Lisa, a 31 year old nurse, our leader Sally, a northern Arizona veterinarian, the Yahner man and Lobo, veteran cosmic canyoneers. This was a diverse group of fun and capable hikers.
Steve and Lobo enjoyed the gourmet hiker’s stew dinner at the ranch with Tecate and vino libations. The rest of the group “roughed it” and had their backpacker dinners at camp. It rained slightly, and this gave me the opportunity to put up my new tarp with Steve’s assistance. A ringtail cat toured our camp that evening, but came up empty as all food was safely enclosed in the provided metal canisters.
The next morning we climbed steeply off trail up about 800’ to the plateau above Bright Angel Creek known as “Utah flats” and continued for about seven miles to the oasis of Phantom Creek, lined with Narrowleaf Cottonwood trees. This drainage offers a variety of indigenous plants, but is prone to “flashing” and we checked out the weather carefully prior to exploring. Several hikers have lost their lives in recent years in this flood prone drainage. An alternative route would be to go directly up the Phantom Creek drainage to the Tonto Platform. This may require some wading. Another way into Phantom Creek Valley can be made on an old cattle trail from the North Kaibab trail, 1/2 mile below Ribbon Falls. There are supposed to be a couple of springs along the way. Also there are apparently numerous “routes” into Phantom Canyon from the North Rim. This gives us a number of choices for a possible future exploratory return trip.
We enjoyed day hikes to Haunted Canyon and up an unnamed side canyon to the spring where Phantom Creek originates. This is an absolutely beautiful part of the canyon. There were brilliant flowers and butterflies all along the upper drainage. I particularly enjoyed the bright black and blue colored butterflies. Tony’s background in Special Forces was of great assistance in route finding.
We also explored down drainage, taking an overland bypass to a pristine waterfall. This side trip involved much slipping and sliding in scree, down a steep decline.

Men behaving Badly

-Steve lost the contact in his right eye, but nurse Lisa found it in his left eye?
-Lisa reported “trumpeting” sounds coming from the location of Steve’s tent. Steve suggested that the sounds originated in El Lobo’s den. Sure Steve.
-Maverick, Tony, and Steve-flaunting their “go light” gear and talking about it for hours.

Women or Men behaving badly?

-Lisa’s version of comfy camp attire was a black cocktail dress, however there were no formal complaints logged from any of the alpha males.

Steve and I had to leave the group a day early so that I could get to an important wedding in Pinetop. Steven and Susan Dolan’s daughter Angela’s ring ceremony was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Country Club. Gerry (spouse) and I love the Dolans and would not miss this event for the world. Gerry would also punish me badly if I did not get out of the canyon for this event.

This necessitated a 16 mile climb back to the South Rim. The group would hike to the Ranch and spend one more evening, prior to hiking out.
Steve and I ended going a little additional vertical mileage with an unplanned side trip, passing westward over the Cheops/Isis saddle towards 91 mile and Trinity Creek drainages. El Lobo twice questioned the route prior to the Master Canyoneer/navigator changing directions from West to East. Steve did come through in the clutch however, and found the steep route down to Phantom Ranch.
The hike out was long and arduous. Tight hamstrings and perhaps a bit of dehydration did not help Lobo. Love for the Dolans and fear of Gerry kept me going. The Yahner man was strong the whole way, I struggled with the last mile to the rim. This was one of the tougher “outs” for me. We arrived back in Scottsdale at 9:30 that night. This gave me time to get ready for an early morning departure to the White Mountains the following day. Our good friends Ron and Sherry Jasper picked us up the following morning and we made it to Pinetop in plenty of time.

Overall, this was a fabulous pack into the canyon outback. I thoroughly enjoyed the time we shared with the group. Everyone provided value. Sally is a terrific leader, a native Arizonan, extremely knowledgeable in the geology and ecology of the canyon. She made the outing interesting and enjoyable for each participant. Go on a GCFI outing with her, you will really like it.
Thanks to Steve for coming out early with me and sharing the drive home.

I rate this trip a 9.5

OHHHHHHHHHH Mexico-Barranca Del Cobre


Sierra Tarahumara-Barrancas Del Cobre

Lorenzo Martinez and I just returned from an adventure traveler's dream ---"Barranca Del Cobre" Mexico. This type of trip, particularly the 27 hours of Mexican bus travel, is not for everyone but worked reasonably well for us. Part of our mission was to seek out and interview future guides, and gather as much data as possible for a future rim-to-rim inner canyon backpack. Limited topo maps were available and those that were, provided only general and often times inaccurate data.The name, "Copper Canyon" is used as a general reference to six massive gorges covering 25,000 sq. miles. The term refers to the copper/green colored lichen that clings to the canyon walls. This canyon system is four times larger than the Grand Canyon. Four of its six canyons are deeper than our Grand - some by over 1,000 feet. The Copper Canyon area is a maze of 200 gorges making for complex inner canyon backpacking that requires an adventurous spirit. An incredible variety of ecosystems further distinguish the region. The Sierra Madre possesses more varieties of oak and pine than anywhere else in the world. It is lush!!! When asked the inevitable Grand Canyon comparison question, we respond that our impression of Copper Canyon is that it is a combination of Canyon De Chelly and The North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Very similar and very different.Complimenting the area's awesome scenery is the Tarahumara Indian culture. There are about 50,000 of these people living in the gorges, many in cliff and cave dwellings. Simple farming and ranching provides their sustenance. They are among the world's greatest longest distance runners. One of our guides, Reyes, unmercifully ran us up and down the Valley of Sighs for twelve miles. Our sojourn was special on many fronts, not the least of which was the incredible train ride from Los Mochis to the Mountain Ciudad of Creel. The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, completed in 1961, is an engineering marvel. We traveled from sea level to over 8000' up the Sierra Madre mountain range through innumerable tunnels, bridges and lush subtropical vegetation.Day1 - Monday 7.02.01Lorenzo drove his new SUV to Nogales, where we stored it in a secure lot for the ten days that we would be in Mexico. We then crossed the border and obtained our tourist cards and caught a first class bus to Los Mochis. The twelve hour ride was comfortable and scenic. Four movies helped pass the time. We arrived in Los Mochis close to 10:00 P.M. and took a cab to the Hotel Montecarlo. This hotel is clean and has an open courtyard. Twelve bucks each -US. We were able to find an open bar in the 'upscale' Hotel Santa Anita and sampled a couple of Negro Modello cervezas and then enjoyed a gourmet meal of tacos and burritos served up by a street vendor across the street from the hotel-60 pesos(6 bucks) for both. Lobo (Bruce) declined a beverage with his meal since all they offered was non-alcoholic. Lobo kept requesting cerveza, but the vendor would only shake her head and say 'cerveza es mal' (beer is bad). Day2 - Tuesday 7.03.01We were up at 4:30 A.M. and caught a cab to the train station where we boarded the first class train that leaves each morning at 6:00 A.M. for the 10 hour ride to Creel. The First class train is about fifty-five bucks (US) one way to Creel. The second class train costs half that, and leaves a couple of hours later. The second class train is not a bad option as it has air conditioning and decent seating, it just takes a little longer, does not have a dining or bar cars and can be crowded. The train ride was comfortable and the views were outstanding. We met several European travelers and exchanged information. An eight year old boy from New Jersey, Josh, traveling with his grandpa, latched on to us and we chit chatted for hours. He helped Lobo with his Spanish. His mom was born in Creel and migrated to the US. Josh is a great kid. Immediately upon arriving in Creel we went to the mission store to purchase maps and then checked into Margaritas. Margaritas is a hostel popular with backpackers and young European travelers. Our cost was $12.00 ea. (US) for a private room and bath and two meals a day (breakfast and dinner). The meals were very good. Margaritas is also one big party. For every cerveza purchased you are provided with a free double shot of tequila. We hooked up with a couple of fun guys from the US-Myer and Mike and partied hard the first night. The usual scenario is to hang out in the courtyard after dinner and get acquainted with other guests while enjoying 10 peso cervezas (and free tequila). When things really get going, the suggestion is usually made to move the fiesta to the other Margarita (hotel) bar, which is about 4 blocks away. There was much laughing, drinking and dancing (by Myer and Mike). At 3:30 a.m. when the party returned to the hostel, Lobo could hear howling and loud appeals for him to return to the party on the courtyard. El Lobo put his head under the pillow. Day3 - Wednesday 7.04.01 (USA birthday)We were up and showered in time for breakfast, which is served between 7:30-9:00. The day prior, we signed up for a trip to the Rekowata Hot Springs (at 100 pesos per head, bag lunch included). Twelve of us piled into the van for the 40 minute trip to the trailhead. At the trailhead, Mario our driver, told us the hike was 3 kilometers down and to always stay to the left. About 40 drizzling-rain minutes later, we were all at the Rekowata springs, which flow from the canyon walls into the San Ignacio River. This area represents the beginning of Urique Canyon. We lounged in the lukewarm pools of the river for close to 3 hours before heading back up trail. The 1,700 foot elevation gain made the hike out somewhat strenuous, but all were out within 1.5 hours. On the way up, Lobo and Zo met Pinto, the dog, and his companion Caesar, a Tarahumara kid of about 5. At the top, Lobo scored a doll and basket (woven out of pine needles).We were back at Margaritas in time for a shower and dinner. After dinner, the indoctrination of new arrivals began in the courtyard. Things really got going when a birthday cake for Paula was produced. Cake started flying. As with the previous night, Mike was very popular with the senoritas. He is a superb dancer. Close to 11, talk of heading to the bar began. Lobo and Zo declined and headed to their room to sleep. Sounds of the ongoing festivities continued throughout the night.Day4 - Thursday 7.05.01After breakfast, we took our laundry to a woman who washes, dries and folds for 40 pesos per load. At 10 we boarded a bus to El Divisadero, a town south of Creel that is a popular train stop offering food stalls, plenty of jewelry and basket vendors, and the best views of the canyon. We were joined by Carol, a young backpacker from Colorado we had met the day before at Margaritas. She was set on doing nothing but backpacking. We only wanted to find a nice day hike. We asked a stall operator if he knew of any guides. We were directed to follow the dirt road out of town for about 2km until we came to a little ranchito belonging to Lencho Macinas.We headed off as directed and soon came across an older gentleman walking towards town. We asked if he knew Lencho Macinas and he extended his hand. Carol tried to negotiate a trip down into the canyon and he offered a couple of options, but neither seemed to fit Carol's budget. He gave us directions for a short rim day hike back towards town and off we went. Part way in, we veered off and followed a path down into the canyon, which led to some Tarahumara dwellings. The short diversion offered some great views.Back at El Divisadero, we had a gordita and a chile relleno burrito, and checked out the merchandise that was for sale. We sat outside waiting for our bus taking in the great views as 2 Tarahumara brothers, Lorenzo and Victor, chased each other around us. On the ride back, the clouds let loose. When we got to Creel, the streets were like rivers. We picked up our laundry and headed back to Margaritas. At Margaritas, we discovered there had been a landslide on the train tracks and train service to Los Mochis was halted indefinitely. Quite a few folks were stranded, but the beer was still 10 pesos and the tequila was still free.After dinner, Myer and Mike shared our 6-packs of Tecate and Dos X while being entertained with El Lobo stories. Myer and Mike were eventually lured to the room next door where some of the stranded senoritas needed escorts to the bar. Zo and Lobo went to bed. There were plans for the next day.Day5 - Friday 7.06.01We packed after breakfast and then checked out of Margaritas, but not before paying in advance for Sunday night. We joined the tour to Cusarare Falls where we would be left at the trailhead to the falls. This is the location of Copper Canyon Lodge (a.k.a. Sierra Madre Hiking Lodge/Cabanas de Cobre).We left the tour group and headed for the lodge. Jose Luis, the manager was not around, so we left our packs and did the 3km hike to the falls. The falls seemed to be flowing at less than 50%. They must be awesome at full force. We saw Carol at the falls. She camped close by the night before and seemed to have found a guide to take her into the canyon the following day.Back at the lodge we met Jose Luis, Monserat (do-it-all man), and Margarita (cook/chef). We were back in time for lunch with Angela, who works for the US Forest Service. Margarita served up sopa de fideo (a Mexican thin noodle soup with avocado slices) that was delicious.Copper Canyon Lodge is awesome!!!! There is no electricity, just kerosene lamps in the rooms. Very quiet and charming. This is one of the nicest places you will ever stay!! Fifty (US) dollars per person per night, including three superb meals. The meals alone are worth it. The place is very informal. The bar is self-serve. You get your own beer from the fridge in the kitchen or mix your own drinks at the bar. It works on the honor system and you're expected to keep tab of how many drinks you have.We had planned to hike the 3km to the town of Cusarare and check out the mission after lunch, but as had become the norm, the afternoon showers appeared and we were left to make journal entries and read while sitting on the porch and enjoying the scenery. Several Tarahumara children would come by like little duckling groups and visit along with the dogs that hung out hoping for treats like El Lobo's jerky. We would show the children the pictures in National Geographic Traveler magazine and they would smile and laugh and enthusiastically chit chat in Tarahumara tongue. They were beautiful children, dressed in bright traditional Tarahumara outfits. The dining room at the lodge is great. The furnishings are made of rich dark woods and leather - very rustic and very comfortable. Before dinner we enjoyed vino and cervezas with Angela and her friend Sandra in front of a fire Monserat had started. Dinner always consisted of soup, entrée, and desert, and was always sabroso. Margarita was trained by 2 chefs who were full time staff when the lodge always operated at full capacity and charged $200(US) per night. The dinner consisted of onion soup, tomatadas (enchiladas in tomato sauce rather than chile sauce), and baked pear and apple slices in a wine-cinnamon sauce.Angela and Sandra were leaving early the next morning and we planned to join them for breakfast before going on a 20km hike to some hot springs Monserat had mentioned.When we got to our rooms, our kerosene lamps had been lit.Day6 - Saturday 7.07.01Before breakfast we headed out to do the 3km walk to check out the mission in Cusarare. There is not much to the town and the mission was locked so we couldn't see the inside. We got back to lodge in time to bid farewell to Angela and Sandra. We were now the only 2 guests at the lodge. Breakfast was delicious. Huevos rancheros for Lobo and huevos a la mexicana for Zo with plenty of beans, tortillas, biscuits, sliced fruit and cereal.We had originally intended on hiking 10km down the canyon to some hotsprings, but Jose Luis suggested taking a guided route over a nearby ridge to the springs. After breakfast we asked Monserat if he had time to guide us to the springs. He told us they had set us up with Reyes as guide. Jose Reyes Batista is a Tarahumara who lives next to the lodge. He has a small plot of land (1 of 3) where he grows corn, potatoes and beans to sustain his family of 7.Jose Luis, Margarita and Monserat were out on the porch telling Reyes that we'd been out to the mission and back in about 30 minutes. They described us as 'muy rapidos.' Reyes' look seemed a bit worried, but with a sly grin that seemed eager for a challenge. We took the lunches Margarita packed for us and off we went (but not before Reyes scored himself a bar of soap so he could bathe down at the river). Reyes set a quick pace towards the ridge. Before the first km was over, we had all worked up a sweat and lack of oxygen. We made it up the ridge in quick fashion with a couple of breaks to remove layers and take in the vista at the top of the ridge. Reyes noted it would all be downhill from here. Reyes led us over the ridge and down a scree slope. As Zo and Lobo carefully chose their steps to avoid any rock slides, Reyes was almost running down the slope. It wouldn't have been so bad, this was his backyard afterall, but here we were with our 'advanced' technology rubber-whatever soles fearing slips while Reyes with his huarachis (sandals) made from tire tread and leather thongs danced his way down the slope. His leather thong did break twice though - what can you expect after 2 years of wear. Reyes had mentioned during one of his huarachi repairs that he preferred his huarachis. He only wore covered shoes a few days during the winter when the cold weather would make his toes hurt.Two hours into the hike, we reached the bottom of the canyon. A spring hot enough to boil an egg ran down into a 4ft diameter pool. The pool itself was not very warm, and we dipped our feet in while Reyes went up river a bit to put his bar of soap to use.We stayed in the canyon going up river to the falls by the lodge. Three hours later, Reyes was making his way through his corn field toward his house, while we sat on porch to enjoy the chile relleno burritos we carried on the hike but never stopped to enjoy.The rest of the rainy afternoon was spent lounging on the porch, showering and napping. This day's dinner consisted of vegetable soup, the tenderest chicken we've ever had, and cake.We spent the rest of night talking to the staff about the history of the lodge and the eccentricities of the owner.Day7 - Sunday 7.08.01For our last day at the lodge, we hiked over to a cave with many petroglyphs. The Tarahumara's are known to inhabit caves even now. After exploring the cave, we continued up the small canyon to the rim. From there went overland toward the direction of the main road to loop around back to the lodge. Back at the lodge, we packed and waited for Jose Luis to return from Creel, so he could drive us back to Creel.By midday we were back at Margaritas for one last party. As we entered, the staff gleefully shouted El Lobo! We left our packs in our room went out to walk Creel's main drag one last time.At dinner time, the only word to escape El Lobo's mouth (approximately 8 times) was tequila.After dinner, the only word to escape El Lobo's mouth was margarita; so off we went the Best Western Hotel bar. On the way back we ran into New Jersey Josh and his mother. The original plan was to take the train back to Los Mochis, but we decided to take the bus to Chihuahua City instead.Day8 - Monday 7.09.01At 9:15 we were on the bus for the 4 hour ride to Chihuahua. On the way to the bus station, we saw Carol who proudly informed us she had made it down to the inner canyon. We congratulated her in the rain and parted ways. The ride was uneventful for the most part. We arrived in Chihuahua and purchased bus tickets for Nogales the next day. We checked into the Santa Regina Hotel (400 pesos) and started to ease back into the US mentality by having lunch at Burger King (it was that or Pizza Hut). We walked about a mile to Pancho Villa's old house (now the Museum of the Revolution) only to discover it was closed on Mondays. The rest of the day was spent walking through the Plaza de Armas.Day9/10 - Tuesday/Wednesday 7.10/11.01We rose early to catch a "first class" bus for the twelve hour ride to Nogales. The bathroom was broken as well as the TV sets, but the time went by quickly enjoying the countryside. There were two bus drivers covering the trip, with one sometimes sleeping in the luggage compartment on the side of the bus. The stereo was cranked up full blast with festive music as one of the drivers negotiated the hair pin turns over the narrow mountain roads. We stopped at many little towns along the way and with the exception of the Federales stopping and searching the bus several times, all went smooth until we reached the small town of Cananea. While we were using the bathroom in th bus station, the drivers unloaded our luggage and were leaving. The drivers told us that they had to get back, but another bus would be here "poquito" to take us to Nogales. They then drove off, ignoring our appeals of "but this is a through bus to Nogales.' We were insured by an "official" at the Bus Station that another Nogales bus would be there soon. Each time a bus would show we would be hopeful, but none were going to Nogales. One bus driver told us "Nogales!" There will be no buses to Nogales! And offered to take us to another town where we could get a transfer. This would only cost a few pesos. We opted to stay there until a bus showed up four hours later that would stop in the little town of Imuris. Imuris was at least on a main highway (15) and with darkness looming, some rough looking local vultures were hovering, and appeared ready to feast on two gringos. We jumped on the bus. The road over the mountains to Imuris was absolutely frightening. The sunset was spectacular. Our strategy paid off; we were able to get a bus to Nogales within minutes of arriving in Imuris. We arrived in Nogales much too late to get our vehicle out of hawk, so we stayed in a hotel in US Nogales. The next morning we drove back to Phoenix. Total individual cost for this trip was less than $600 and $75 of that was for jewelry and souvenirs. For an additional $300 (US) you can fly round trip from Phoenix to Los Mochis in luxury. But why would you want to do that, when you can take a bus--the travel of choice for millions of Mexicans. The joys of travel are not always obtained in reaching one's destination, but in the journey itself. (It is the road, not the inn)We thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Copper Canyon is truly an adventure of a lifetime.

Cradle of Democracy-Massachusetts

Massachusetts, Cradle of Democracy

This was a long over due trip to visit senior relatives. Time is now extremely precious.
Gerry was not able to accompany me due to pressing matters at ASU and a scheduled visit to her parents in San Francisco Bay area.
Flights to and from Logan (Boston) were non events, however, gazing at the closed parking lot at Logan, where the terrorists left their car brought me back to the grim reality.
Although I am thoroughly westernized, my roots are in Massachusetts. If you travel the freedom trail in Boston to Bunker Hill you will find a statue of General Nathaniel Corey,
A direct descendant. Until recently I had all but forgotten the sacrifices our forefathers made for us to have the freedom we enjoy.
Navigating out of Boston presented quite a challenge due to the “Big Dig.” The drive to my Aunt Jean’s (TJ) home in Middleboro, close to the Cape, was dark and lonely, I arrived at 10 P.M. on Sunday evening.

Old Friends

The next morning we visited my 94 year old great Aunt Anna at a rest home in Taunton.
Although she fell asleep numerous times during our hour long stay, she recognized me and expressed to TJ how grateful she was for her to bring me. She told us she was on her last legs.
On the way in to the rest home we heard cries of help from one of the rooms. TJ went in and comforted the woman. On the way out a woman in a wheel chair asked us over and over, “What will I do?” TJ told her that she would figure it out. TJ asked her if she wanted a hug and gave her one.
Simple acts of kindness have been more prevalent recently. TJ has spent her life helping others. She is a retired school teacher and proudly served in the Peace Corps.

Our visits to my mother and her husband Ed would include us bringing much food that made them very happy and us quite full. One night we brought Maine Lobsters.
We also spent some time with my great Aunt Dot.

New England Sweet New England

In between visits we managed to get in several adventures. TJ and I are cut from the same cloth and we both love adventure travel. We drove over 1700 miles through five of six New England States. This much time in the car was spent without hurting each other. There was just one ugly incident after getting lost on the way to New Bedford. I had fired TJ as the navigator and assigned her in an advisory capacity. She did not like her new job and continued doing her old one.
We drove the entire Cape, we went from Bar Harbor Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We went through the Green Mountains of Vermont where Ethan Allan and the Green Mountain Boys fought for our freedom.
The blazing colors were magnificent. Although not quite at peak, we saw groves of bright red, yellow and orange turned trees throughout the trip. The “tree peepers” will be out in full force next week.

Some highlights of our tour included:

-Hanging out in quaint Province town at the end of the Cape
-Hiking on the Cape Cod National Seashore
-Taking the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and seeing the ginger bread houses
-Driving the Maine Coast
-Hiking Gorham mountain in Acadia National Park, enjoying the remarkable coast views
-Vermont’s countryside
-Watching the Polar bears at the zoo in Providence RI

Acadia National Park deserves special mention. This is the only National Park in the entire North East but it’s raw beauty leaves you breathless. The coast views are surrealistic. This is the 39th National Park that I have had the privilege of exploring. There are 52 National Parks in our great country. I rank Acadia in my top 5 to date.
We are so fortunate to have these areas designated as National Parks. Thank you Teddy Roosevelt. Thank you John Muir.

I will close with a couple of my thoughts. My friends have cancelled our planned February trip to Tanzania/Kenya to climb Kilamanjaro. I agree with their decision. Nairobi is too high a risk. The mountain will still be there for us. However---------
I keep thinking of FDR’s famous words, “The only thing that we have to fear, is fear itself.”
We need to continue to see and appreciate this beautiful country. Visit our National Parks. Go to New York. Help refuel our economy. The terrorists can not take these liberties away from us.

North Bass _Grand Canyon

Each man sees himself in the Grand Canyon -Carl Sandburg
North Bass Trail-- 27 miles R/T -- 10,640' elevation gain/loss This trip has been on my radar screen for three years, rescheduled numerous times. This one was also in danger of being scrapped.
Our permit was for a group of five. Three of us finally did end up going. John had to drop out due to a serious cold and did not want to jeopardize the group. He really wanted to go, and I felt bad for him. This was certainly an excused absence. Steve dropped out due to it being too hot, and a grandchild due soon. Steve has also opted out of expeditions at the last minute because it was too cold. Weather is not an excused absence, however a first new grandchild does qualify for exclusion. Or, perhaps, the Master Grand Canyoneer could not get a weekend pass due to spending much of May in the Canyon?El Lobo was hobbled by nagging leg injuries and fighting off a cold but his commitment and compulsive need to get another check off the list put him at the trailhead. Lorenzo fought off work pressures and Dan was simply ready to go, and did the driving.We left from Phoenix for the eight hour drive to the Swamp Point trailhead on the North Rim early Wednesday morning, negotiated the 20 miles of back roads without problems and arrived in the late afternoon. The views were panoramic and we took advantage of the time by sitting in comfortable camp chairs, sipping cervezas and enjoying the extraordinary sunset. Dan prepared a gourmet dinner of salad and ravioli that night. Steve had volunteered to provide a pasta dinner. Dan graciously covered him.Question at the trailhead: Where's Steve?Answer at the trailhead: At his cozy Scottsdale home, in his polka dot pajamas on the couch eating huge bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy.The North Bass trail is actually more of a route than a trail and is arbitrarily documented in some publications as the most difficult and demanding trail in the canyon, involving inventive route finding and a good deal of exposure to steep cliffs. It is an old Indian route once known as the Shinimu trail and later improved upon by William Bass whom had constructed the South Bass trail in the 1880s and utilized the system to guide tourists and hunters. Bass constructed a cable system on the river that is long gone.The first mile brings you to Muav Saddle and to a cabin built by the Park Service in 1925. Teddy Roosevelt camped here while hunting mountain lions so the cabin is sometimes is referred to as "Teddy's cabin." It is in very good condition and hikers can sign in at a register located in the cabin. One of the comments written by a female backpacker was particularly inspiring. "My ass is fine. This can't be one of the hardest hikes in the canyon".We agreed that this fine line reflected how much progress our sisters have made in achieving equality. You've come a long way baby!The views down to White Creek were extraordinary. Climbing down to the Redwall generated deep thoughts and questions such as; exactly what temperature is just right to hike the canyon?Where's Steve?We were never more than a couple of miles from water all the way to the confluence with Shinimu creek where we camped. We elected to follow the drainage instead of the trail where we knew we had access to water. It took us eight hours and we arrived at 2:00 in the afternoon, leaving us plenty of time to cool off in the fast flowing Shinimu creek. Temperatures were well above the century level and the cold water soothed our hot bodies and sore feet. Probably due to the intense heat, there was not much dialogue among the group. Dan casually commented that the shrilling cicada noise was unpleasant. I hadn't noticed it before he mentioned it but now that my hearing sense was activated it became deafening and made me a little crazy. Thanks Dan. We heard thunder in the distance and a storm started to move in. Mysteriously, the insect noise stopped. We received some rain that was very welcome. The storm passed and as soon as it did the loud cicada noise immediately started again. That was interesting.Other small talk included: Question: Where's Steve?Answer: Napping or eating huge scoops of ice creamAt 9:30 that night my thermometer displayed 99 degrees. Going to sleep presented a challenge.The next morning the three of us headed off for a day hike to the river. On route, Dan turned his ankle and elected to spend the day soaking it in the creek and resting it for the gruesome hike out. Lorenzo and I continued following the creek, that required many crossings. At Shinimu camp where Bass once lived there was many interesting artifacts.We came across a small group from a private rafting expedition and they invited us to drop in on their camp on the Colorado for something cold to drink. This was something to look forward to, as our water would very quickly turn sickening hot after filtering. We followed the creek to within 100 yards of the river and could not gain passage, rim locked over a 40 foot water fall. Not desiring to negotiate this problem we returned to search for passage. We thought we may have found a route up and over but the steep lava rock was too hot and difficult to climb. At this point we back tracked to a wonderful pool and jumped in for survival. The temperature was registering at 110.Needless to say, it was one of the best dips we have ever had. We decided to make another go at getting to the river and after a 400 foot steep ascent we found a pronounced path and took it to the river.Immediately upon reaching the Colorado we jumped into the 47 degree water. It is amazing how cold that river stays.We were really looking forward to that promised "cold drink" but no one was around. We finally located one fellow that looked at us in disbelief and asked if we were crazy hiking down here. I suggested that we might be thirsty and that a cold drink would be great and he responded, "the Colorado River water is free." This was not what we had in mind. Our new friend then spent five minutes bitching about the river trip and how hot it was. We took some of his free water, thanked him for his hospitality, and started back. We discovered a much better route that took us moderately down to our swimming hole and again jumped in. We crossed paths with our river friends that politely asked if we had been given cold refreshments. "Oh yes, thank you very much."Back in camp Dan was doing fine with some pain in his ankle but confident of the hike out. The original plan was to take two days to get out and to spend one night on the Redwall.We elected to scrap that option and hike all the way out. Staying on the Redwall at poor camp sites with hot water to drink was determined to be far more miserable than a torturous, continuous climb with cool cervezas and sodas at the top. The first seven miles went very well but the last three were a wee bit challenging. There was little shade and it was El Lobo that occasionally lost the necessary positive attitude. G-----med Bass!!!!! Crazy SOB!!! Came from El Lobo's lips more than once, as sweat trickled off his body.Lorenzo and Dan remained positive and strong.Question on the grueling ascent: Where's Steve?Answer on the grueling ascent: Probably eating lunch at Earls, sipping iced teaWe got out in nine hours and set up the chairs on a shaded part of the rim and sucked down numerous sodas and San Salvador cervezas. We then packed up and drove the back road to the Kaibab Lodge where we dined on double cheese bacon burgers and washed them down with cold beer. After dinner the young lads got a little out of control and continued to order huge volumes of Bass Ale. El Lobo had to drag them out of the bar. There were no rooms left at the lodge. We now had to find a camp site on a back road in the dark. Dan just pulled off a side road close to the lodge and we threw down our bags. About two in the morning El Lobo got up to get in the cooler for a coke. He was totally dehydrated. A horrible alarm went off and the lights on the truck kept flashing on and off. After Dan cheerfully fixed this little problem, El Lobo reached into the cooler and pulled out his soda that felt a little strange in the dark. It appeared that it was covered with lard? It was really awful! There was also a terrible smell but El Lobo just wiped his hands on his shirt and sucked down the drink. It was that, or die of thirst. The next morning we got up at five, and discovered that indeed, there was something greasy in the cooler. It was covered with garlic butter that had tipped over when Dan was wildly driving to our camp site. We cleaned up the mess, broke camp and headed for the North Rim Lodge. We were able to shower in the campgrounds and then had a terrific breakfast in the beautiful lodge dining room, at a table with a knock out canyon view. We then headed back to Phoenix.Question on the road: Where's Steve?Answer on the road: Still sleepingDan got us back in town close to three. This allowed for time to clean gear and have a nice Sunday dinner. Question at my house: Where's Steve?Answer at my house: Dreaming of washboard Abs


Gila Wilderness New Mexico

Como estan ustedes?

The six pack of (Lorenzo, Dan, Hannu, Lobo, Drew and Wilson returned from the Gila Wilderness New Mexico late last night, tired but still in awe of the wild, steep rugged mountains, deep canyons, mesas, and mountain streams that characterize America’s first Wilderness. It was a pilgrimage to the Mecca. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Aldo Leopold, Forrest ranger, writer, and pioneer of wildlife ecology, that 755,000 acres in the headwaters of the Gila River were set aside in 1924. The Gila Wilderness is a blend of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Madre Mountains from Mexico and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. Together this combination is unbeatable. It was gorgeous!

We car camped for four days. My strong preference is to back pack into a remote area, but the seduction of comfy camp chairs, four cases of fifteen different beers, and meals of steak, fajitas, and tortelini made the car camping very acceptable. This was our first visit to the Wilderness and we covered a lot of ground, scoping and planning for future back packs.

Highlights of this trip included:

-Iron Creek day hike through lush Forrest to one of the many permanent streams in the Gila
-Liberty Ale, Guinness, Flying Dog, Guyama, Sierra Nevada, Lowenbrau, Bud light, Stone IPA, Pacifico, Nimbus Pale Ale, Pilsner Urqull, Eureka Honey Wheat by the fire
-Day Hike on the Crest trail-18 miles of high mountain forest and isolation in the heart of the Wilderness
-Day hiking the WORLD famous “CATWALK” suspended from the walls of a narrow rocky gorge with the rushing Whitewater Creek below
-Visiting the ancient Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and scoring a patch
-Hiking the Gila West Fork through fields of sunflowers to cliff dwellings

Wildlife sightings included many varmints, deer, and a blacktailed rattlesnake. Three Mexican Wolves are presently roaming this Wilderness.

Overall, rating for this trip is a 9.6. This was a great group of guys and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we shared. However, there were a few ugly incidents.

Men Behaving Badly:

Incident # 1
After Hannu drug us eighteen miles at 10,000’ up and down 6,000’ of elevation gain/loss on a death march at a three mile an hour clip, Lorenzo and I were chewed out for not going faster. “We were slow,” yelled Hannu, “four hours would have been an acceptable time.”
We were allowed to stop for five seconds on the saddle to look at the view.
“But Hannu, wasn’t this a recreational hike?”
I think Hannu is not a Fin but a Tarahuamara Indian!

Incident # 2

On the seven hour drive to the Wilderness, Drew offered El Lobo a bottle of Beano.
Now why would any guy ever use that type of product? It could ruin you for life.

Incident #3

Late one night around the campfire after much firewater, Hannu went ballistic and screamed at El Lobo “I have been to 36 countries, I know such things, you do not know
S*&t” This climaxed an important philosophical discussion on whether or not you could get aroused if you were in a 220 degree Swedish sauna with a nude Pam Anderson.
Hannu also challenged El Lobo’s Alpha male authority, specifically regarding some demerits that he had received. Perhaps fearful of being banished from the pack to wander alone in the Gila Wilderness he later made amends and admitted that he was ticked off that nobody wanted to trail run 30 miles with him to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Incident #4

The group was quite jealous of El Lobo’s relationship with Wilson. Wilson is a wood massager equipped with four strong legs and a happy face. There was much vicious gossip that El Lobo had frequently slipped away to his tent with Wilson.


Southern Arizona

Ger and I spent Monday and Tuesday hanging out in Southern Arizona watching our law enforcement units at their best, or worst depending on your point of view. The border patrol seemed to be everywhere. They must be inspired by Ashcroft’s visit and promise to bolster their forces for the good fight.

Highlights of this trip include:

-Caving at Kartchner Caverns
-Birding in Patagonia
-Slamming down cervezas while shopping in Nogales
-Dining at “La Roca”
-Hiking the Atacosa trail to Atacosa lookout in the footsteps of Edward Abbey
-Blowing out a tire in the backroads
-Bending down and taking a speeding ticket from a Santa Cruz Sheriff

Kartchner caverns, located in the Whetstone Mountains near Benson is quite a popular attraction and requires reservations months in advance. The state has done an outstanding job with the visitor center, trails and gardens. The caverns were discovered twenty five years ago but kept secret for fourteen years. The temperature is a warm 68 degrees in the caverns. This tour is well worth taking, even if you are not a spelunker.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch in the gardens and then headed for Patagonia where we spent a few hours in the backyard of the Patten's, watching hundreds of hummingbirds at their feeders. We saw many varieties, including the ruby throated and violet crowned. Patagonia is internationally known as a premier birder’s paradise and a wonderful spot to visit. Hundreds of other birds were at the feeders. This was a very mellow afternoon.
In the late afternoon we arrived at Nogales, got a room at the Best Western and went shopping. Shopping is so much more fun with a Pacifico or Negro Modello in hand.
We found a couple of little treasures and were on our way to dinner when we were approached by an hombre selling a beautiful jewelry set and willing to make us quite a bargain. Monday is the best day to shop in Nogales. His price went from $50.00 to $10.00. Ger commented that she had no outfit to wear with it, and the hombre replied “wear it naked”. I quickly handed him the ten bucks, and bought him a beer with visions of a wild evening in the old Best Western.
That evening we dined at “La Roca” a wonderful restaurant, evocative of another time, built out of the side of mountain rock. It is quietly elegant staffed with white jacketed waiters. I discovered La Roca on a guy’s weekend and promised to take Ger there. The food was excellent. She loved it.
The next morning we hiked up to the Atacosa lookout, west of the Pena Blanca Recreation area. This five mile round trip climb, up 1600’ of elevation presented an interesting array of plant types. The wildflowers were splendid! On top is an abandoned fire lookout that is in great shape. There is firewood and a wood burning stove. A nearby outhouse barely clings to the cliff’s edge.
Edward Abbey spent time here in 1968. Posted to the walls are excerpts from his “Confessions of a Barbarian.” It described Edward’s loneliness and despair, hiking up on a windy night in June 1968, after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Reading this left me with a haunted feeling.
This hike is rated a solid 9.6.

And then;
Driving back we suffered a blowout on a back road. The temperature was in the high nineties. An opportunity for problem solving. The last time we broke down we had two flat tires on the Mogollon Rim. Fixing one should be easy, however the stock jack was not industrial strength to do the job. Where were all the Border patrol that was crawling around before, now that you need them? We did finally get some help from a couple of very nice young bucs and a forest ranger with a decent jack.
We headed back to Nogales on the donut tire and made it to a Goodyear shop. While in the waiting room, El Lobo noticed that a German Shepherd was in the cab of his truck. Next, questions from a US customs agent. The dog was growling at the bag that had El Lobo's’soiled underwear. In the mean time, two other cars and drivers were being searched. After trunks were opened, handcuffs were applied and arrests made. El Lobo, fortunately was not charged with “dirty underwear” and we were free to start down I19 with a brand new tire.
“What a field day for the heat”
On the way back there was a border patrol checkpoint detour. On route to the checkpoint we could not help but notice six law enforcement cars clustered together. One started to follow Lobo while others followed other cars. The red light went on and a Sheriff asked Lobo if he knew why he had stopped him. Lobo responded “No Sir,” silently translated “perhaps, because you are a f*&^^ a&(&**e”
I received a ticket for going 76 in a 55 zone. “Thank you!” Silently translated to F*&k y*&. It appears a little funny that the speed limit at 75, changed so suddenly with the border patrol detour. Ambush-we were massacred!!
Traffic school will compliment my yoga, tennis, mountaineering and Spanish classes. I can always use the credit hours.
The trip rating was a 10 before the flat tire and ticket, now has been downgraded to an 8.
The ticket goes on my top five of all time gettin screwed.
We arrived home without further incident in time to rush and get dressed for an ASU dinner featuring a speaker on the historical human ecological impact. This was really interesting and ended the day on a good note.

Buenos Tardes