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The Priority Item on My Bucket List
There are still a few goals I’d like to fulfill before the flesh turns weak.  One of ‘em I thought would be done by now, but good intentions pave the road to hell, though I’m not looking to descend to quite those depths.  I just want to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I’ve been there exactly twice, the first time as an eleven & a half year-old participating in The Family Vacation of ’64.  The canyon stop was on the backswing, prolly around Day 12 of fun-filled family travels in the shiny red ’62 Newport.  Destinations included Denver, the Great Salt Lake, a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland, Carlsbad Caverns & the Grand Canyon.  By the time we made it to the canyon, my parents, bless their frazzled hearts, were pretty much ready for vacationing to end.  I’m surprised they took the time to stop the car, though I did manage to whine & cajole my way to a quick look over the rim & a visit to the Canyon Gift Shop.  I even coaxed the purchase of a souvenir, a hunting knife complete with its very own sheath that you can wear on your belt.  I still have it.  It’s in my tool box.

Thirty-six years later I made it back.  My wife & I, at the end of summer, year 2000, embarked on The Epic September Tour of The Great Southwest.  We traveled through Taos (meh) to Santa Fe (double meh) & down the Turquoise Trail (beautiful!) on west past Albuquerque through the Painted Desert to Winslow, Arizona.  We were ‘standin’ on the corner’ there & I have the t-shirt to prove it. 

The next stop was the Grand Canyon. We arose from our nearby motel bed well before dawn to find a spot to watch the sunrise pop up over the rim.  And even though we shared our vantage point with 3 busloads of Japanese tourists & the zillion clicks & whirs sounding from their cameras, the sunrise over the rim was spectacular.

For the next part of the day, we explored different vantage points overlooking the south rim & took in some of the informational exhibits provided & maintained by the National Park Service.  We eventually found our way to Bright Angel Trail, the safest & most popular hiking trail leading from the south rim to the canyon floor.

Bright Angel Trail travels from its trailhead elevation of 6860 ft. along a descending path 9.9 miles to Phantom Ranch Lodge at an elevation of 2546 ft.  We walked 1.6 miles down the trail to the ‘Mile-and-a-half Resthouse’ at an elevation of 5729 ft.  It seemed, with every descent of 100 feet or so, as if we entered a whole new geological universe, one after the other. 
It was a great experience & my wife, bless her heart & her painfully wobbly knees, was such a gamer by putting this opportunity ahead of her discomfort.  I wanted to hike further but, in deference to her good judgment & my lack of preparation, we turned around & hiked back up to the rim. Ever since then, for 13 years & counting, I’ve longed to hike the entire 9.9 miles down to Phantom Ranch Lodge & spend the night.

What goes down, must come up (David Clayton Thomas in reverse) & the long climb out would happen on the second day.

I’m in shape.  My knees are fine.  I could do it.  My wife’s in shape, but not hiking shape & neither are her knees.  She sez I can go – but not by myself.  Therein lays my quandary.  None of my friends are in good enough shape to do it, even if they did want to, which they most certainly don’t.

Planning & permits are required for overnight stays in the canyon.

Approval takes time, which is a good thing because that also gives me time to troll for a hiking partner.  No whippersnappers need apply.  Any of you baby boomers have some interest?  Gimme a shout & we can talk about it over a cold one.  Not a beer drinker, you say?  Yah, well…thanks for stopping by.  I’ll send you a postcard from the rim.


Read this book: House of Rain   by Craig Childs. My nephew is an accomplished archeologist in the 4 Corners region. He could get us back into places that would blow your mind. Google 'wolf man panel'.

Butler wash, by comparison to him, is a tourist trap.

Grand Canyon is our next vacation, but if we go to the bottom, it will be on a donkey.

Chicken Dinner.

You can go on a donkey if you want, but those flippin' things walk right on the edge.  And I mean right on it.  Couldn't pay me enough money.


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