Tuesday, 20 October 2009

There and Back Again, part 2: a snake, a bear, a death, a swarm

Although it is nearing the end of October, I'm still reveling in the events that happened on our wanderings throughout the mountains and deserts of Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming this past summer.

Sebastian, our 18-year-old nephew from England arrived with us as we stepped onto the desert soil of the stunning and sacred state of Utah.

Our first journey began as we drove to Moab/Arches National Park and camped in sweltering heat for 3 nights. We hiked to delicate Arch and spent two hours alone there...alone! It is highly irregular to find oneself alone at Delicate Arch in the month of July but it happened for us. It was breathtaking to be amongst nature's artifacts and play around like Indiana Jones. Later, we spent some time in Devil's Garden looking at some of the arches. Sadly, I was feeling pretty poorly (lack of water) and waited the men out in a mysterious shadow being created by one of the large standstone cliffs. We signed up for a tour of the Fiery Furnace. It about blew my head off to see the perfect formations and kryptobiotic crusts that were in tact. Simply stunning! We spent a quiet evening at Dead Horse Point, cooking dinner on the cliff edge as we waited the stars to appear. It was a perfect evening.

After Arches/moab, we ventured to Mexican Hat, Utah. This has to be one of my favourite places in Utah. We stayed at the San Juan Inn (I highly recommend it) and purchased loads of Navajo crafts and medicines. There was a lovely and quirky native man that shared many stories of all the Hollywood actors that would film nearby and get absolutely smashed with the locals. Apparantly, he was also a famous artist. Quite amusing. :) We also "cliff" jumped in the shallow San Juan River. That was refreshing and a bit creepy as we had to crawl up the hot rocks with shedded snake skins mingled throughout the stones.

Off to Monument Valley we drove. Wow. This is another place my heart felt the vibrations and heard the echoes of an old generation of people and memory - the Navajo. We stopped at their mini side street huts to admire their crafts, stories, and the view. Such good souls!

~ a snake ~

Passing through Monument Valley we made our way to the Grand Canyon - Finally! The Grand Canyon is definitely not overrated. Our first full day we spent hiking around the Grand View trail amongst a thunderstorm (not a good idea as the lightning was within striking distance!)
We never intended to hike to the Colorado River and back out in one day on this trip. However, that is what our adventureous spirits concluded would be the BEST experience...heh. We were told by many people and read many warning signs that we should not attempt to hike to the bottom and back out in one day. Apparantly, about 250 people are pulled out of the canyon each year "that look like us" because they suffer from heat exhaustion or dehydration whilst attempting this task. Hmmmmmm. We were certainly determined not to be rescued and packed well for the journey. After seeking advice on how to hike smart from a canyon employee, we began our excursion at 3:00 am on the South Kaibab Trail, after having slept only 3 hours. HMMMMMM. I have to thank the South Kaibab trail for giving me my awesome calf muscles. The trail is steep and all down hill. With a heavy pack of 5 liters of water, 3 peaunut butter sandwiches, 4 pears, 1 bag of crips (chips), 1 apple, 10 cereal bars, 10 strips of fruit leather, toilet paper, 3 bottles of sunscreen, 1 first aid kit, 3 large sticks of beef jerky and a few other items, my calves were shocked.
After 6 hours (I think) we reached the Colorado! We were so grateful to dip our toes and dunk our heads in that river. We made our way to Phantom Ranch to rest our bodies during the heat of the day. The advice we were given instructed us to wait until around 3 or 4 pm to begin the journey up. Glad we did! It was unbearably humid (due to the vastness of the Colorado) and hot. The temperature reached a record high... 112 degrees! The heat completely drained us as we desperately sought shade and relaxation, none of which was in abundance. Did I mention that we had a double layer of clothing? (*wink*)
We set off for the ascent at 5:00 pm, much later than expected.

(again, i'll continue to update this over the next few days)