"We are all but pigmies in the canyon"
John Wesley Powell
Juan da Jackal
The Big Beaver from Minnesota (Gaylen)
El Lobo H. Grande
Grandview Trail to Cottonwood around the Horseshoe Mesa and out-20 miles
Last Monday I received a phone call from Juan requesting a private trip to the canyon. A young fella that works for Juan is being deployed to Iraq very soon and Juan wanted to get him a backpack in the canyon this weekend.
I explained to Juan that this was impossible. This is peak time and permits are simply not available. It is a four month lead time. Juan offered me a princely sum. I said no that I could not charge him. He then begged and pleaded. I said that I would try, I knew how important it was to Juan to have his friend experience the canyon before departing for Iraq.
However, a famous guide sometimes knows how to do the impossible.
Through my contacts I was able to learn of a cancellation and an associate at the canyon hustled to the back country office and secured the golden permit.
Thank you Elaine!!
Juan certainly does not need a guide for the canyon. He is a seasoned Grand Canyon trekker and has logged many miles in the canyon, often times in the remote areas. Juan is a strong hiker and a joy to be with. He absolutely loves hiking the canyon. He is the only guy I know that will tote a 50 lb. pack up 5000' and smile the whole way. He is also legendary in another way.
He is the most prolific farter that has ever roamed the canyon.
This was Gaylen's first back pack. Juan had him totally outfitted with a 50 lb. pack.
Juan also had a heavy pack. El Lobo, a minimalist, sported a 30 lb. pack. I wondered why their packs were so heavy?
We descended into the great abyss, every step we took represented 10,000 years of the age of the canyon.
Gaylen is a big guy whom used to play semi-pro football. He was eager to learn and also a lot of fun to be around. Although he suffered some nasty blisters from his new boots, he "cowboy upped" and hiked tough.
At cottonwood camp, while relaxing in our camp chairs and listening to the rhythm of the water, I found out why their packs were so heavy.
They pulled out liters of the finest Pinot Noir that I have ever had, along with pounds of goodies.
It was here that we christened Gaylen "The Big Beaver" from Minnesota based upon his eagerness and some unmentionable dialogue.
That night high winds tormented us, but we slept like babies.
The next day we thoroughly enjoyed the rhythms of the canyon while hiking on the Tonto Trail. Horseshoe Mesa was a dry camp and we filled up with water at a spring 700' below the Mesa and took turns toting sixteen pounds of water up.
On the Mesa we set up camp in strong winds and the boys went exploring, looking for a certain cave. They came back with a tent that had blown away. The owner was nowhere
to be found. The storm system continued into the late hours of the evening and then like magic was gone.
The trip out was relatively easy and we rewarded ourselves with our cerveza ritual at the rim -----Sierra Nevada's and Johnny Cash on the CD Player. An RV cruised by and a beautiful young woman yelled "Johnny Cash!" with thumb up.
Showers, and then to Flag and the Beaver Street Brewery, excellent habitat, for The Big Beaver---- pizza, burgers and pitchers of India Pale Ale to recap a fabulous canyon adventure. Juan bought da Beaver a Beaver Street Brewery T-Shirt and I gave him an Arizona on the Rocks" baseball hat. Da Beaver promised to wear them in Iraq.
We made a pact to return to the canyon when Gaylen completes his tour of duty.
Thanks to da Jackal and da Beaver for the time we shared. It was a great trip!
Men Behaving Badly:
-Juan & Da Beaver for carrying heavy packs with everything imaginable except eating utensils.
-El Lobo for holding the only spoon in camp for the ransom of more wine and chocolate.
Lobo was like a hungry coyote and every time the boys opened one of their treats would ask "What you got there?"
-Juan da Jackal for telling the pretty ranger at the gate that she was the most beautiful ranger that he had ever met. Juan, now that you are 40, that type of behavior qualifies you as a dirty old man.
-Juan da Jackal early one morning for stopping a hiker in his tracks that was passing by our camp. The poor hiker had a look of fear, despair and agony after hearing a horrible blast launched from Jackal's tent.
-El Lobo for greeting other hikers and scaring foreign tourists at the rim with a resounding(but friendly) "Howaya?"
-Jacobo and Lorenzo for being total slugs and not hiking the canyon with us, employing the excuse that they are too busy with work, when in fact they would rather stay at home and eat huge scoops of mashed potatoes and gravy and then wash it down with a gallon of chocolate milk! Nankoweep too tough for you boys?