6/22/2008


"Never does nature say one thing and Wisdom another"
Juvenal

I just returned from a great trip to Saint Louis and wanted to share my experience at the Wild Canid Center
with you. The trip was fun and productive. My Grand Canyon presentations went extremely well, I enjoyed spending time with my friends and partners at Wapiti, Kevin and Ralph and appreciate their midwest graciousness and hospitality. We enjoyed a nice hike in beautiful Castlewood State Park where the Meramec River flows through.

The highlight of the trip was a half day spent at the Wild Canid Center. This was one of the best mornings that I have ever spent, it touched my soul. I was given a "VIP" tour by Director "Mac'
Sebald and volunteer PJ Harrison, both lovely people. I had goose bumbs when I heard howls that usually come at night. All the canids were extremely curious and I could see several of them peering at me from a distance. They demonstrated beauty, dignity and intelligence. They are all tough and hardy with keen survival skills but cannot survive guns, traps and poison.

The Wild Canid Center was founded by Marlin Perkins and wife Carol in 1971 and is the premier captive breeding center in the world. The enclosures span acres so that these truly magnificent animals do not lose their ability to hunt, socialize and raise their pups. They are reversing the trend to EXTINCTION through:

-Captive breeding for the reintroduction of wild canids into appropriate wilderness areas
-Establishment and maintenance of gene pools of selected species and subspecies
-Providing educational programs and materials for use by the public and the conservationists of tomorrow
-Contribution to data banks on captive canids throughout the world.

Canyon Tough is committed to assisting the WCC in meeting these objectives through education, support and ecotourism.

Here are some really cool pics taken at the WCC.

6/07/2008

Clear Creek



"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us"                                            Bukowski

In search of the Grand Canyon's highest waterfall, the elusive Cheyava Fall.

Day 1-Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch
Day 2-Clear Creek Trail to Clear Creek, North Rim
Day 3-Clear Creek to Cheyava Streak
Day 4-Clear Creek to Phantom Ranch
Day 5-Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim
50 miles in total
This was a Grand Canyon Field Institute trip of 11 including Lorenzo and Jake. The boys were both a tad bit high maintenance for the Lobo guide. We stayed at the Field Institute's lodging the night before, caught a few NCAA games at the Maswick Bar and later watched "Why do Cowboys Sing?" an excellent documentary filmed in Northern Nevada, and the classic "A Fistful of Dollars" in our luxury abode, stocked with old tapes. And exactly why do cowboys sing? "Why does the frog croak!"  
 The group headed for the Ranch early the next morning. We enjoyed a great steak dinner and several Tecates at Phantom.
Yea Baby! I love Phantom Ranch!

Unbelievably, this was Zo's first trip on the main corridor trails. He has done many of the more remote trails and routes.
 The weather was a combination of sunshine, hail, sleet, and cold winds.

Cheyava fall was a major disappointment as it was only a wet streak on the canyon wall. It has been too cold on the rim and the fall had not yet been recharged with any meltwater. For the fall to be really cranking it requires a good snow year. This is my second trip to Clear Creek, and the fall was also not running then, so I elected to do the 10 mile round trip to the Colorado, down a serpentine gorge through one of the most spectacular stretches of Vishnu narrows in the park. This is a good option, but you must down climb about a 15' slick-rock pour-off just before you arrive at the river.

However, our hike to the fall was  scenic, traveling through the varicolored rock layers of the Grand Canyon Supergroup. We stopped at several ruins along the way and could see granaries high up on the canyon walls.
The trek from Phantom to the rim was the usual arduous, suck-it-up climb. The boys liked Indian Gardens.
We celebrated at the Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff with burgers and beers and the three of us agreed that the best part of the trip was that Dingo did not come!

MEN and WOMEN Behaving Badly

Zo-for initially being a "Man behaving bravely" by addressing the over capacity compost toilet at Clear Creek with a stick, but quickly turning into a MBB by chucking the stick. If he was a good environmentalist he would have packed it out, utilizing it as a walking stick.

Jake-for proclaiming that he now had logged more miles in the canyon (120) than Juan da Jackal, because according to Jake, you lose all your miles(like frequent flyer programs) if you have not traveled in the canyon for one year.

Lobo-for deserting his guide post in the back after he got frustrated being stuck behind Angie, the slow senior citizen client, and telling Angie, “Let me get in front of you in case you fall,” then quickly proceeding to leave her in the dust.
 
Angie-for laughing loudly every time she fell.
 
Angie’s daughter-for hiking way ahead of her mom and leaving poor Lobo the guide to help her up when she fell.
 
Zo-for continuously asking: “Lobo, what’s the best part of this trip?”; Lobo-for replying: “Dingo’s not on it!”; and Jake-for laughing.
 
Lynn-for falling behind the group and going the wrong way, then demanding “I paid $600 for a guide to take me to the fall!”
 
Terry-the Chicago financial planner, for trying to get Zo to carry his whole tent rig after Zo volunteered to leave his rig behind and share a tent with Terry so he wouldn’t have to carry it all.
 
Terry- for leeching stoves, stove fuel and water filters from others in the group-no wonder he could hike faster than most of the rest of the group.
 
Jake-for not washing himself until the 3rd day.
 
Lobo&Jake-for being antisocial by setting their tent away from the rest of the group at the Clear Creek campsite.
 
Jake-for not acknowledging his secret training of carrying his 1 year old son to build up 

6/06/2008

Nankoweep





“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a nat
ural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.... Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American....should see.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Nankoweep Basin Exploration

Seventy nine miles, 30,000' of elevation gain loss in this remarkable region.

Eight Days of exploring the spectacular labyrinth of tributary canyons, dozens of arroyos, lush riparian oasis's, and prehistoric Puebloan ruins.

Highlights:
Climbing Little Nankoweep Canyon-Cool Narrows (This is where 2 boy scouts died in 96 because their foolish leaders lost the route and did not carry enough water.
-Peak bagging the steep crumbly Nankoweep Mesa and Nankoweep Butte.
-Trekking up a drainage to a 300' seasonal waterfall that is not on any map, viewed by very few human eyes.
-Discovering granaries on barely accessible ledges high on canyon walls.  Finding amazingly-intact artifacts including metates (concave stones used for food preparation) corn cobs and original stored wood.
-Scoring 8 cans of Guinness from a river group.

The group came from varied back grounds and locations. All were very seasoned canyoneers. Everyone did very well, although a couple got very testy on the last leg of the climb out.

Note:
After over 75 inner canyon trips and 2500 miles logged in the Grand Canyon this incredible trip may be the best.

Men Behaving Badly

Lorenzo  and Jake the last time we did Nankoweep in June two years ago. They both tried to work over an old man (me) after a disagreement at the end. Their heat, stress and fatigue ignited a major blow up and them ganging up on me. John H was on my side and Dingo sat back and let them punch me!!!!


6/03/2008

France





Bonjour,

We just returned from an exciting French vacation lasting 24 days.

-Paris on Bastille day and the finish of the Tour De France
-Loire Valley
-Normandy

We rented a car to tour the wine regions and Normandy. After all, we had previously driven all over the UK and Ireland on the opposite side of the road. How tough could this be? 

Only Slightly!!!!  On the way out of Paris I was stopped by the Police- After observing my "deer eyes" the insightful Policeman offered the following revelation------"Be very careful driving in Paris, It is very dangerous!"

 I felt much better after that.

On the Paris Ring Road my navigator quit!  Gerry-"I'm Done!"  Lobo- "Gerry you can't quit!!!""

On Juno Beach Normandy (Canadian Invasion) the Tour Guide's comment on driving in and out of Paris-"Now that's a sport!"

Our way out resembled this video from Chevy Chase's European Vacation Movie.

Coming back into Paris was slightly less stressful . We went right through the eye of the hurricane, down the 6 lanes of the Champs Elysees to the Sienne River and only a couple of circles before landing at Avis . (Motor scooter to the left, Motorcycle to the right)-Holy Shit!!! look Out!!!!!

I am too tired to do a full report. I will forward more PICS later.

Here is the highlight of the trip for me. The Sewers of Paris.


Gerry enjoying herself underground. The sights and smells were a feast for the senses.

Thirty nine years ago I took Gerry on a date to the Reno Fair. There, a haunting voice on a loudspeaker kept repeating over and over. "Come see the rat from the sewers of Paris" 
It put us in a trance and we went in to see this rat. (It cost a quarter-Gerry paid) The rat was a huge disturbing spectacle that left a life long horrific impression on both of us. I mean, it was bigger than a porcupine. I have had many nightmares since, each one has that rat's beady eyes staring ay me. 
We both felt that the only way to rid ourselves of this terrifying vision was to travel to Paris, address our fears head on, and educate ourselves on the rat's habitat. 

And we did. And we are better now.

Where Amazing Happens

El Lobo H. Grande

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid Redux




“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.-Therefore wander”
Moorish Proverb

Banditos

Sundance Kid (Jacobo)
Butch (El Lobo)

Gringo Trail

Los Angeles, Panama City, Lima, Cuzco, Pisac, Aqua Caliente, Copacabana
La Paz, Arequipa-

From the world's highest lake and capital city down the deepest Canyon in the world.
Peru and Bolivia on $20 a day. Three weeks of living the life of adventure we all wanted when we were kids.

Highlights of this trip include:

-Hanging out at the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, the Katmandu of South America. Soaking up the culture, tradition and history of this beautiful colonial city.

-Eating roast guinea pig (cuy) on a stick, washing it down with Cuzquena cerveza

-Taking a local bus filled with pigs and chickens through the sacred valley to Pisac. Hiking to an Inca fortress on the mountain above.

-Taking a train to Aqua Caliente/Machu Pichu-South America's best known and most spectacular archeological site. Hiking a portion of the Inca Trail.

-Climbing steep Huayna Pichu to take in a stunning view of Machu Pichu’s natural setting

-Exploring pleasant Copacabana. The small city looks down on the deep blue waters of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana is also a major pilgrimage center to the Virgen de Candelaria shrine.

-Taking a boat ride to gorgeous Isla de Sol, the spiritual center of the Andean world, which was dotted by ancient ruins and traditional Aymura communities.

-Shopping at the Witches Market in La Paz for “oddities.” Negotiating with armed guards for a tour of the legendary San Pedro prison.

-Visiting with our wonderful friend Jorge Alercon in La Paz. Jorge is a (distinguished classy) Bolivian gentleman. He took us for a fabulous roast duck dinner at a country restaurant outside La Paz.

-Hiking in the Valle De Luna outside of La Paz.

-Touring the fascinating block long complex of the Santa Catalina Monesterio (actually a convent.) in Arequipa.

-Backpacking into the bottom of Canon del Colca. At 3400 m deep, it is reportedly the world's deepest canyon.



“Kid, the next time I say, "Let's go someplace like Bolivia," let's GO someplace like Bolivia,”
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-1969


Our adventure started in Lima after an all night flight. Lima is not the garden spot of South America. It is overcrowded, polluted and noisy but could not be avoided as we could not book a flight to Cuzco until the next day. We did spend some pleasant time in the Mira Flores section of town.

We checked into a nice hostel in Cuzco and immediately drank a pitcher of mate de coca (coca tea) in order to try to prevent acute mountain sickness. We spent a couple of days exploring Cuzco and acclimating to the altitude. Massive Inca-built stone walls line many of the city's central streets and form the foundations of colonial and modern buildings. The streets are often stepped and narrow. There are hundreds of taxis that simply do not stop for anyone. Pizza was served at most restaurants and more often than not was our meal of choice.

Paradise found-

The “kid” and I took long scenic train ride to Aqua Caliente at the base of Machu Pichu and entered the lost city of the Incas, shrouded in mist and mystery. The grandeur of Machu Pichu blew our socks off. The site has exceptionally high quality stonework and ornamentation.
We trekked up the Inca Trail to the Puerta de Sol (Gate of the Sun). Early the next morning we climbed to the top of Huayna Pichu and took in a condor's view of the ruins. (Discovered in 1911)
Rumor has it that another site in Peru, even more spectacular, has been discovered, buried in the thickly overgrown jungle.


Machu Pichu

Isla Flotantes

Back in Cuzco we took a bus to the small port of Puno (3820 m) on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Generations of school children have been taught that Titicaca is the largest lake in the world above 2000 m. Some schoolchildren including a wee lad by the name of Lobito giggled hysterically during their study lesson and were appropriately reprimanded by their fifth grade teacher.
I always knew that someday I would go to the magical Titicaca and see the limitless horizons and floating reed islands. The islands are built using many layers of the buoyant totora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows.


“Butch and me have been talking it all over. Wherever the hell Bolivia is, that's where we're off to.”


On toLa Paz

We crossed the border the following day and made a stopover at enchanting Copacabana on Lake Titicaca’s southern shore. We sailed to Isla Del Sol and back that afternoon. This island of the sun is the birthplace of creation in Inca mythology.


Lake Titicaca

Magic Bus

Getting to La Paz was interesting. At one point the road ended on the shore of the lake and required floating the bus on a tenuous old wood barge across a ½ mile of Lake Titicaca.
Passengers were transported on another old boat. We watched in amusement and a little horror as the bus swung wildly from side to side. There goes the luggage!

"Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe."

Setting our eyes on the world's highest capital was memorable. We entered La Paz from above and caught panoramic views nestled in a deep valley, with the magnificent peak of Illimani rising behind in the distance.
The City and its markets are incredibly busy, the Hong Kong of South America.
At an altitude of 3500 m, the kid and I were both sucking air, and Jake suffered with debilitating headaches and nausea. Heavy blankets were an additional weight on our chests and caused us to continuously gasp for air during the night.
We spent hours wandering the alleys and markets, visiting museums and watching Bolivian life unfold in the plazas.

Life inside San Pedro Prison

On the bus we met a young woman of Peruvian descent whom told us about San Pedro penitentiary, which is situated in the heart of downtown La Paz.
She was reading the book “Marching Powder’ a true story about friendship, cocaine, and corruption in South America's strangest prison. San Pedro was described as a place where the inmates must engage in various activities to survive. Cells with 5 star conveniences are purchased from”Realtors” by the wealthiest of the drug dealers while those without money live in retched conditions. San Pedro has its own set of rules and regulations, with its own economy, equipped with a cocaine lab. Even the prison cat is addicted. Some prisoners have family members living with them inside. San Pedro was described as perhaps a surreal microcosm of Bolivian society.

Our curiosity was aroused.

Apparently, at one time, English speaking inmates made money by giving tourists prison tours along with armed guards. After the Black February uprisings the prison was declared off limits……but we were told that there was a way to get in…. and back out.

We showed up at 9:00 A.M., the time that was given for the best opportunity. I approached one of the guards with a request to interview a friend. The time was not right. He gave me a shove and directed my attention to a crude sign that was posted, prohibiting foreign visitors.
Another guard told us to wait across the street. Here, we talked with an Israelite whom had been trying to get in for the past few days. He said that he had been told that the guards were new and we needed to be patient and wait for the right time.
Dialogue was conducted through the gate with a young American prisoner who had been in there for quite a while, accused of possessing cocaine. His ticket to freedom was to pay his way out and he did not have the means.

Not being interested in burning all our time waiting, we left, disappointed but slightly relieved that we would not have to deal with making it back out.

On the road again---- back to Puno and then to Arequipa

The beautiful colonial city Arequipa is nestled in a fertile valley under the perfect cone –shaped volcano of El Misti (5822 m) which rises majestically behind the cathedral from the Plaza, flanked by the ragged Chuachuani (6075 m) and to the right by Pichu Pichu (5571 m) The Plaza de Armas is graced with distinctive stonework and we spent a day exploring the city.
Jake felt much better after dropping in elevation. The plan was to do a three day backpack into Canon del Colca but a time miscalculation necessitated a revision to two days and an all night bone jarring bus ride. We arrived in Cabanaconde, sleepless. Cabanaconde is reminiscent of something out of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. We had breakfast at a really cool café, then descended into the arid confines of the deepest canyon on earth.

"El Condor Pasa"


WOW!!!

My burning eyes picked up on tremendous shadows crossing our path. I looked skyward to see two magnificent Andean Condors soaring.
We reached the Rio Colca and crossed over on a rickety old wood suspension bridge. We had lunch in a small village and then headed across the canyon. There was considerable loss & gain of altitude before we reached another small village where tiny school children and dogs accompanied us to an oasis. One ninito demanded that Jake carry him. Jake carried him. When it started to rain he demanded a raincoat. We gave him a raincoat. Manuel had more personality packed into his small frame than any kid that I have ever met.


Village church

We relaxed at an oasis, got a little sleep and then started the long steep climb out with flashlights at 2:00 in the morning. We arrived at the rim around 7 A.M. and again had breakfast at the old café. From here we took a bus to a National Preserve to view more condors.
The bus ride back was lengthy and jarring but we didn't mind. It was worth it.

Getting back to Phoenix was a 24 hour ordeal involving spending the night at the LA airport where we attempted, unsuccessfully, to sleep on the floor.

Gerry and Cody, two of the prettiest girls in the world, picked us up in Phoenix. Gerry was smiling and Cody‘s tail was a wagging. Both were anticipating jewelry and treats. They were not disappointed.
There is no place like home.

This was an adventure traveler's dream trip. Much thanks to Jake for putting it together and being such a good partner. We would have liked to have spent more time in Bolivia at Sucre as well as the mining village of San Vicente where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid played their final scene.

I will end with this thought.

Marking at the portal of a cemetery in Puno---

“Yo hoy, manana tu” (I today, tomorrow you)

6/02/2008

Playing Above The Rim (Mogollon)







Not all those who wander are lost!
JRR Tolkien


This time of year when the NBA playoffs are in full swing we think of a rim as one attached to a backboard. Not necessarily!

In Phoenix, many think of a rim as a Mogollon. The Mogollon Rim marks the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona and stretches 200 miles from the southwest of Flagstaff to the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. The name Mogollon comes from Don Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollón, Spanish Governor of New Mexico from 1712-1715. The average elevation is about 7000 feet, and is known for its stands of Ponderosa pine, which comprise the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the United States. It can easily be accessed within a 2 hour drive from Phoenix.

A few years ago while stopping on a back road for a 100 mile sweeping view, I came across a retired couple from Massachusetts who were mesmerized by the brilliant hue of purple as the sunlight was fading. While chatting with them, one commented "Isn't the Grand Canyon beautiful?"
Yes it is!!

But so is the Mogollon Rim.


Our backpacking group of four consisted of Hannu legend, Larry the Mountain Man, Dingo Dog and El Lobo.

Hannu is from Finland and is a world class orienteer. His navigation skills and speed on the trails are legendary. Hannu walks faster than most people run and he does not stop for anything. He has been slowed by 2 knee operations but still maintains a torrid pace.

Larry spent many years in Alaska and has climbed two faces of Denali. He used to jog in -50 temps and employed the use of 3 socks. I will let you guess where he put the third.

Dingo is a solid outdoorsman, loves to get out and explore, particularly the canyons of the southwest. He has worn the same "Red Dirt" t-shirt a record 823 times!!

We chose to do the relatively easy 22 mile historic cabin loop, following historic trails and featuring historic cabins and incredible views from the rim. The trail is the link between the earliest fire guard cabin network in this area of the rim and has its roots in the beginning of the Forest Service era there.

I had not backpacked for over a year and my soul was in desperate need of the Wilderness. My job as an adventure guide and other outdoor activities had taken me from my passion. Backpacking to me, is pure and spiritual. I love the required efficiencies, and opportunities to travel where few go. It is also a great work out. For me, this is an unbeatable combination.

Our "pack" started at the General Springs Cabin. We followed the Fred Haught Trail for six miles to the Pinchot Cabin where we pitched our tents in a gorgeous meadow.
It had snowed here last week and water was abundant in all the drainages. There were also a number of springs and perennial water sources.
The Cabin Trail passed through some of the most spectacular country that I have seen in Arizona. I had to pinch myself to believe that I was not hiking in the Rockies or my beloved Sierras, less the mosquitos.



Arizona is extremely diverse. Here we have every eco system from Mexico to Canada. You can enjoy the great outdoors all year round. In the summer you go to the mountains and in the winter you spend your time in the Sonoran Desert.

Normally, I do not build a fire when backpacking, but the camaraderie of the group, the in place fire pits and the 40 degree night time temps changed my thinking.

Larry served hors d"ouevres of salmon and cheese and elk bologna. He also brought a flask of Bushmills. Dingo brought a bottle of high grade sipping tequila and served with lime and salt. Hannu chipped in with Absolut Vodka and Lobo ponied up a fine bottle of Cabernet. We decided to save the vodka and vino for day two camp.
Around the fire, the stories grew, like the size of a fish that the man claims broke his reel.
The exchange was deeply philosophical, similar to the dialogue of the young boys in the camp fire scene in the movie Stand By Me:


GORDIE: alright. Mickey's a mouse. Donald's a duck. Pluto's a dog. What's Goofy?
TEDDY: Goofy's a dog, he's definitely a dog.

GORDIE: I knew the sixty-four thousand dollars question was fixed. There's no way anybody can know that much about opera.

CHRIS: He can't be a dog. Wears a hat and drives a car.

GORDIE: Wagon Train's a really cool show. But did you ever notice that they never get anywhere? They just keep wagon training.

VERN: God, that's weird. What the hell is Goofy?



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


HANNU: In Finland everyone goes naked in the sauna. I'm telling you guys, a Finnish sauna is so hot you can not get an erection in there even if a good looking woman comes in there.

LOBO: BS Hannu!! I guarantee you I could if Pam Anderson came in there naked!!

HANNU: Hey guy, no you couldn't!!!

LOUD ARGUMENT

DINGO: Does anyone know the high and low temperatures where an erection is not possible?

LARRY: I think that the low is -50.



____________________________________________________________

The following day we hiked ten miles on vague and confusing trails. Hannu had his map and compass. Larry had his GPS. Man against machine. The best of both worlds was necessary to stay on track. Whenever we would lose the trail Hannu would scowl "percolay." I think "percolay" is something bad in Finn.

That night we camped in a beautiful bright green meadow in Barbershop Canyon. A fire was built, wine and vodka flowed and the stories grew larger like the tale by the time its been told by more than one.GORDIE: Wagon Train's a really cool show. But did you ever notice that they never get anywhere? They just keep wagon training.

VERN: God, that's weird. What the hell is Goofy?



The next morning we packed up early and had an easy six miles to close the loop. On the rim, Hannu picked up a satellite signal on his Blackberry and Larry and I anxiously asked him to get on the Net and check out the score of the Celtics/Pistons playoff game. Our blood flows green and this had to be one hell of a backpack for us to miss this game.
Hannu announced the score-89-81. But who won?? Who won!?? Hannu was either messing with us or not. I considered going for his throat just before he proclaimed-Lakers-Celtics in the finals!! Music to our ears. The Celts also had played above the rim.

Still Runnin' Against the Wind

ELG

Condors Over The Battleship












A mass of Victorian wiles and granite that resembles a battleship in the rain and a wedding cake in the sun."
Francis X. Clines

The Mighty Battleship-Summit Elevation 5850'

Climbers-

Zo
Lobo
Dingo
Larry da Mountain Man

I was camped at the Mather Campground on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I had invited the boys up for a little adventure on my day off. This was a mistake. The 10 day Wilderness First Responder Class that I was attending had drained all my energy. It was much more difficult than I had expected. The course included 80 hours of classroom, a couple of hours homework each night coupled with evening field work. Passing a practical and a written test was required for certification. Certification is required to work for the Grand Canyon Field Institute.

The day off would have been better served relaxing and studying, but plans had been made to climb the Battleship.

It was late Friday night and the boys had still not arrived. The campfire was almost out and I was ready for bed. At 11 Zo's headlights finally came into play.
They made camp and we stayed up for a couple of hours draining cervezas and being guys.

At dawn we started coffee and then drove to the rim and went down the Bright Angel Trail. Our bush whack approach to the Battleship was somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 miles down the trail. I had been told by Pat, the head of Search and Rescue that there were 3 entry points and routes with varying degrees of difficulty.

Of course we chose the most difficult because (name withheld) was adamant on entering at the 1 1/2 mile point. From here we tried to follow a cairned route north along the Coconino-littered Supai talus. We lost the route several times. My arms and legs were the usual bloody mess from fighting through all the prickly, spiny, thorny, stabbing plant life. We finally arrived at the Battleship's southern shale pinnacles and continued traversing around the eastern side to gain access to a "class 3" east facing route. We were looking for a left facing squeeze chimney. We came to a slot and (name withheld) announced "this is it!"
The 40' climb looked to Zo and I like a 5.7 technical climb. This would mean an unprotected ascent since we did not bring rope and I only had 50' of webbing.
I did not like it at all. If this was a "class 3?" then what was the rest of the climb like?
Also, this day was Gerry and my 39th wedding anniversary. I sure as hell did not want to give my wife a climbing accident anniversary gift, particularly since I had a serious climbing accident almost two years prior that negatively impacted my family. When I mentioned this fact, it was met with ridicule. (name withheld) I mean "Real Men" don't worry about s@#t like that!

Wrong! Pissed me off!

(Name withheld) insisted that this was the correct chimney so Zo led, I reluctantly followed and we used the webbing to hoist packs. After we were clear, our "class 3" became visible just around the corner. Finding it was a relief as the real concern was the danger of having to go back down the way we came up.
Here, we traversed left, 60' across a ledge to bypass the steep upper shale face. A final short ramp brought us to the summit.

On top we enjoyed the panoramic views, dined, relaxed and watched the condors above. It was magnificent. Someone had built a battleship out of rock.

The descent was easy. We took the well marked "lower route" to the Bright Angel Trail, coming out at the 2 mile mark. The climb to the rim was arduous due to the intense heat.

We celebrated in the Bright Angel Lounge, and Lobo treated the boys (including name withheld) with Fosters and pepper jack cheese burgers. They were too good!

Lobo returned to the campgrounds to study and the boys headed for Phoenix.

Note: I did pass my tests (barely) and received certification. This was accomplished despite celebrating the Celtic total destruction of the Lakers in the Maswick Lodge the night before the tests.

It seems that I unecessarily do many things the hard way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQn8OyLCRss

Men/Women Behaving Badly

(Name withheld) for being a Dick Head and allowing his need to be a "Macho Man" interfere with the golden rule of "Safety First"
Larry the Mountain Man for letting the rankest smelling fart ever, at our lunch break. On a previous adventure LTMM declared a "fart free" zone.
Dingo for demanding a fire and beers when he arrived at camp.
Dingo for waking up everyone at camp with his loud boisterous voice.
Dingo and Larry – For losing the “obviously” cairned trail to accommodate their love of bushwhacking.
Dingo – For insisting that a short 5.7 chimney climb was the class 3 scramble in the trail description. (Upon topping out of the climb, the group found the “obvious” easy scramble.
Larry, Dingo, Lobo – For deserting the poorly conditioned Zo on the trail so they could get to the beer at the bar as soon as possible.
Larry – For immediately taking off his shoes and socks at the bar, causing his smelly feet to clear out the table next to us.
Lobo and Larry – For being vehement Celtics fans and picking on Dingo, the vehement Laker fan.
Dingo – For teaming up with the Laker lovin waitress and asking her to spit on Larry’s and Lobo’s burgers.
Lobo – For missing his 39th wedding anniversary and father’s day to be at his wilderness first responder class.
Lobo for saying "Howaya" to everyone on the Bright Angel Trail.
Lobo for pumping his fist and pounding his chest and yelling Celtics at the Maswick Lodge Bar that was populated with 16 Aussies wearing Laker shirts.
Lobo for coming to class with a hangover each morning after the basketball game.
Other WFR classmates in camp that did not exactly "lean into the showers" because showers cost 2 bucks and they elected to spend their shower money on beer.
The same "gamey" classmates that stunk up the classroom.
Tracy, a very pretty nice young lady whom had finished through hiking the PCT(Pacific Crest Trail) last year, for letting out several loud belches during class. They were world class.
Free spirits (river rats etc) that partied hard and late at the campgrounds each night.

The Arizona Coast


Men may dam it and say that they have made a lake, but it will still be a river. It will keep its nature and bide its time, like a caged animal alert for the slightest opening. In time, it will have its way; the dam, like the ancient cliffs, will be carried away piecemeal in the currents.

 -- Wendell Berry

The "A" team spent the weekend on the Lower Colorado River.

Jacobo
Juan
El Lobo

The lower Colorado has been made supremely functional (ruined) by a ladder of dams stretching from Glen Canyon in Northern Arizona to Morelos Dam south of Yuma. This area has transformed California and Arizona deserts into a lush corridor for aquatic recreation. There are a number of high quality State Parks that offer shoreline, beaches, boating and camping facilities, golf, tennis, RV centers and the like. Brand new communities and thousands of condominiums have popped up out of nowhere. I hate all of it.

The London Bridge at Lake Havasu City arrived on the Colorado's shore in 1968 and reassembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle. I don't like it!

We camped at Buckskin Mountain State Park. In the park we hiked the Buckskin trail, relaxed, played catch, read, and "sipped" cervezas.
There is a decent restaurant in the park where we were able to catch both final four basketball games and sip more cervezas, while slamming down chile cheese fries and burgers.

The next day we drove to the Topock Marina to gain access to a unique bit of landscape known as the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Here there are 260 different species of birds, 40 species of mammals  and 20 species of reptiles. We saw a lizard.

We started our kayak trip at the Marina and took out at Castle Rock. This segment of river is known as the Topock Gorge , a 15 mile stretch of what was supposed to be gentle water, it did have incomparable scenery, perfect for kayaking or canoeing. 

The trip started with gentle water but soon we encountered a strong head wind. This coupled with the wakes created by the speedy boats made it a challenging paddle for Jake and I.  After the wind started, I hated everybody and everything.

Campers Behaving Badly:

Lorenzo for not going because he was too seeek!
Juan for secretly blaming Jacobo after Juan lost his "expensive" sun glasses in the Colorado.
Juan for announcing that he was an expert paddler and then leaving us to die.
EL Lobo for hating all the young punks in speed boats cruising at break neck speed,  drinking beer,  flaunting  bikini clad beauties in their boat while poor Lobo was fighting the wind and their wake.
California spring break party animals going nuts at the famous sand bar. Next time I'm joining them, screw the paddling, after all, I am a student.
Juan and Lobo for hydrating themselves by sipping pitchers of cervezas at the restaurant and draining the camp cooler of all the bottled beer.
Jacobo for forgetting his air mattress and having to sleep on the ground-AGAIN!
The dudes in the next camp site that started "sipping" beer at 6:30 Sunday morning. Everyone knows that you don't start until after 9 on Sundays!

Walk Like An Egyptian




Highlights

--Beautiful 5 star hotels, particularly the Petra Taybet Zaman! An incredtble complex, one of the nicest that we have stayed.
-The food was marvelous
-The people were warm, outgoing and respectful
-Pyramids of ancient Egypt
-Extraordinary ancient city of Petra (rock in Greek) where the Indiana Jones movies were filmed
-2000' hike to the top of the Monastary in Perta
-Floating on the fabulous Dead Sea
-The Holy land from the ancient city of Wadi Muza
-New York.... tramping......-Empire State Building, Ground Zero, Times Square, United Nations,Rockefeller Center, St . Patricks Cathedral, South Street Seaport etc and........
Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe where the Lobo scored a NY Hard Rock bottle opener/magnet to add to his valuable world wide collection.

6/01/2008

Puerto Vallarta



"A single tree in the tropical forest in the south of Mexico has more different species than some European countries"
Carlos Salinas de Gortari

I selected Puerto Vallarta, the jewel of Jalisco Mexico as a destination for our fortieth wedding anniversary and we both were extremely happy with that decision. Stretching around the sparkling blue Bahia de Banderas and backed by lush, palm covered mountains we couldn't have asked for a lovelier place to while away 10 days on a special vacation.

There are so many travel bargains available and Mexico has been the victim of much undue travel cautions. We found this tropical paradise to feel safer than being in the United States. The atmosphere was totally friendly and service oriented. The weather was nice and the prices right, the culture and scenery hard to beat. And, we didn't mind a short return plane trip home in lieu of the grueling flights from other tropical destinations.

We chose to stay in the "Zona Romantica" close to downtown in lieu of Nuevo Vallarta or the sterile American hotel strip where many tourists spend their entire time in an all inclusive hotel, "safe" from the real Mexico.

We enjoyed the picturesque cobbled streets and many great restaurants, but ended out hanging out at a local "Banana Cantina" that was a Vallarta version of "Cheers"
On our anniversary, we moved up the mountain to a large villa that afforded incredible panoramic views of the bay.

A highlight was doing the "Outdoor Adventure" with Vallarta Adventures. Billed as one of the greatest adventures on earth, we were not disappointed with the adrenaline production. In an area of tropical forest, 200 Ft. above the ground we flew on 1000 Ft. zip lines 10 times and rappelled three routes (one free fall) into natural river pools. Although an experienced "zip liner" in Costa Rica, this was Gerry's first rappelling experience. She showed "No Fear" demonstrated excellent technique and nailed them, an inspiration to the youthful group (young punks) that watched her "go first" on their experience of a lifetime.
Note: Cameras were not allowed and we elected to not buy the photographer's shots so we have no PICS of this day to share

Other highlights included:

-Luxuriating day in and day out on Vallarta's world famous Playa de Los Muertos
-Taking a panga to the peaceful village of Yelapa, only accessible by boat
-Strolling and shopping beneath the shady rubber trees on Isla Rio Cuale alongside the Rio Cuale.
-Taking a day trip to Punta de Mita and Sayulito to watch the surfers ride the waves
-Spending an interesting day at an old family tequila distillery, and partaking in a little tequila tasting
-Wandering the beautiful seafront "Malecon" and chatting about life with the locals

1/22/2008





Other great rivers add power to you
Yakima, Snake, and the Klickitat, too
Sandy, Willamette and Hood River too
So roll on, Columbia, roll on

I just returned from beautiful Bend Oregon after a week of action. Gerry went home on Monday. I stayed for a backpack. It was a nice break from "toasty" Phoenix.

For those of you that do not know Bend, it is located at the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains with unlimited recreational opportunities. To say that Bend is an energetic city would be an understatement.

This will be a short report containing only highlights because I have to reload and do a canyon trip for18 people from the UK.
Thanks to Peggy Shea for her tremendous hospitality and to Bob Shea for putting together a great plan and schedule of activities.


Highlights

-Evening cocktails/hors d'oeuvres/dinners on the Shea backyard patio; watching the Steller Jays, Hummingbirds, and even a large Owl.
This backyard is incredible!

-Downtown Art Walk and Shopping at Old Mill

-Moon Rise and Sunset on Pilot Butte

-Hiking to Tumulo Falls and paddling the Deschutes with Gerry

-Sunrise to Summit Race-up to the top of 9,000' Mount Bachelor-A personal best for the Mooseman!

-Lunch at Elks Lake Lodge-Black Butte Porters!

-Mountain Biking about 19 miles on the Skyliner, Phils and up and down the fun "Whoops trail" (muchos moguls)

-Smith Rock State Park

-A fabulous 26 mile backpack in the three Sisters Wilderness. (6 miles cross country up, and down some gnarly stuff)