Rainbow Bridge-Hiyah!

"Hiyah!""Through rain & wind & weather,Hell bent for leather""Hiyah!"------RawhideSouth Rainbow trail-27 miles round trip-(Requires a Navajo Permit)Rainbow Bridge was recently included in National Geographic's Adventure magazine -"Extreme America - 50-places like nowhere else on Earth."Rainbow Bridge (PIC by ZO)El Lobo has roamed to most of these places but had not hiked into Rainbow. Compulsive behavior required checking this one off the list.Los Vaqueros-Zo (The Good) El Lobo (The Bad) Dingo Dan (The Ugly)This is a spectacular trail through some of the most rugged and magnificent redrock wilderness in the United States, to a world famous 275' natural span-Rainbow Bridge. The trail flanks 10,400' Navajo Mountain, considered sacred by the traditional members of the Navajo Nation. It meanders through extraordinary watery canyons.The tres amigos left Friday evening at 5:00 P.M. and stopped in Flagstaff for dinner. Much later, we were delayed on Navaho Rt. 98 by a fatal crash. A flipped truck lay on the side of the road. Sadly, some did not make it home that night. Such is life on the Rez.. This is not the first time that we have come upon a serious accident on Navajo land on Friday night. We took the dirt Navajo Mountain Road for 33 miles and could not find the fork that would take us to the ruins of the Navajo Lodge where the trail begins. At 1:00 in the morning we threw out our sleeping bags in the desert and crashed.The next morning we got up at first light and jumped back in the SUV in hot pursuit of our destination somewhere in the maze of Navajo back roads.As the sun rose over Navajo Mountain, the theme song from the Good, Bad & the Ugly plugged us into the adventure.With a little light, the Dingo Man with his trusty topo map was able to get us to the ruins.Rainbow Lodge was built in the 30s and provided guided pack trips to the bridge before the flooding of Glen Canyon by Lake Powell. This allowed for boat tours to access to the bridge via the water.Today, there are two types of people that visit the bridge.-The few, that pack it in with the big iron on their hips.(Those that shoot)-The smart, that go by boat and return to cervezas.(Those that talk)At the ruins we enjoyed a mouth watering breakfast of spicy tamales that Zo had bought from a family, outside a gas station in Flagstaff. They were the best ever!We hid some water for a long walk out, (survival) in the event that the vehicle's gas tank was siphoned, or the tires removed. This happens sometimes, as it does elsewhere.We started with heavy packs, each of us carrying in excess of a gallon of water, not expecting to find any along the way as per the "quality" information provided to us by the professionally incompetent Rainbow Bridge National Monument people. Paladin, Paladin Where do you roam?The first five miles we experienced many exhausting ups and downs while crossing the arms of First and Horse Canyons. At Sunset Pass we caught an astounding view of Cliff Canyon, 1600' below. The two mile descent into Cliff is difficult, steep and rocky, but we found the lower reaches to be real purty.Cool Clear WaterAt mile 8 we found flowing springs and several large pools of water. After cursing the knowledgeable volunteers at the National Monument we set up camp in this scenic area. Our original plan was to hike all 13 miles to Lake Powell. Finding water allowed us to day hike (without heavy packs) to the bridge and back the following day.El PasoOur day hike took us over Redbud Pass into extraordinary Redbud Canyon, a slot canyon framed by towering red rock cliffs.Flowing water was plentiful practically the whole distance to the bridge. We stopped at Echo Camp just before Rainbow Bridge, a cowboy camp with two good springs.Cowboy Camp (PIC by ZO)From here it is an easy flat walk to Rainbow Bridge which is carved out of Navajo sandstone, among the largest formations of its kind in the world.Rainbow Bridge (PIC by ZO)At Rainbow Bridge we relaxed and chatted with the tourists who had walked the 1/4 mile from their boat on the lake. You are my sunshineA deadly heat wave had come in and an early start was necessary. The following day we rose at 4:00 a.m. and began the arduous climb, with a full moon providing all the light that we needed. Dingo did an outstanding job of keeping us on course until daylight crept over the ridgeline. Heckel & Jeckel (PIC by ZO)High NoonWe arrived back at the car close to noon, delighted to find Zo's rig intact. We set up our camp chairs, cracked open the cervezas, cranked up the car stereo, and listened to the Spirits of the West.As we passed through Flag we looked for the family selling Tamales but to no avail. We stopped at Busters for dinner.Back in the Saddle AgainWe arrived home Monday evening, in time to see the Red Sox beat the hated Yankees.This was another outstanding adventure with the best of the best. Thanks to Zo for driving. The overall trip rating is a 9.9. We all agreed to return next year and hike the seldom used and extreme North Rainbow trail that starts in Cha Canyon, skirts the North side of Navajo Mountain through Bald Rock, Nasja, and Oak Canyons to the bridge. Hiyah!!!Hombres Actuar Gravemente (Men Behaving Badly Section)-Dingo Dan for badgering El Lobo to tutor him on naughty Spanish words. El Lobo had just happened to pick up a copy of "Street Spanish" only to develop a better appreciation for exactly how colorful the Spanish language truly is.-ZO for again flaunting his gear. This time he was sporting a new REI rainproof, wind resistant light jacket.-Zo & Dingo Dan, AKA "The Rainier Boys," who had gotten soft since their Rainier summit and stopped frequently, acting like they were just enjoying the view. They then accused El Lobo of enjoying their pain and kicking their young asses on the climb out.-Dingo Dan for listening to "The Hanging Tree" over and over and over again.-Zo and Dingo Dan for whining about El Lobo's consumption of tuna and subsequent Happy Trails lethal gas attacks.Don't fence me in--