Wednesday, April 16, 2008

GC Saturday

Footsteps on gravel preceded the door swinging open. "Good morning, gentlemen. It's five AM. Breakfast is in thirty minutes." I climbed out of the top bunk in the dark and headed for the one facility that was shared by ten of us before dressing and going in search of Julie.

Phantom Ranch.
A portion of Phantom Ranch as seen from an overlook on the Clear Creek Trail. (Larger version)

In the past Julie and I had eaten one supper in the canteen and had purchased sack lunches but never breakfast. For this trip we packed lunches and breakfast for Sunday morning but made reservations for Saturday's "big breakfast". The cost was $18 each and the menu turned out to be eggs, bacon (no thank you), pancakes and peach halves. Meals at the canteen are served boarding house style. The table is set and guests help themselves and pass the food down the table. The food is brought into the canyon by mules and any remains from the all-you-can-eat meals are packed back to the rim by mules.

The Dorms.
The Dorms. (Larger version)

After breakfast as the sun began to color high canyon walls Julie and I took a walk around a two mile loop that crosses the silver bridge, turns east along the south side of the river, climbs perhaps 150 feet above the river, joins the South Kaibab trail, passes thorough the tunnel, crosses the black bridge and proceeds west along the north side of the river. Along the way the trail passes Anasazi ruins and the grave of a worker who was killed in a accident while constructing the North Kaibab Trail.

The Canteen.
The Canteen. (Larger version)

Part of the group had planned a day hike to Ribbon Falls which is about 6 miles north of Phantom Ranch. Julie and I had discussed hiking up Phantom Canyon. When we got to the mouth of the canyon we saw three people wading the stream and two others farther ahead. The canyon was narrow, brush filled and partially shaded from the early sun. We changed our plans and continued north for about a mile before returning to Phantom Ranch.

Loading Mules.
Loading for the Return Trip to the Rim. (Larger version)

After a lunch in the campground we wandered past the mules. Julie pulled green grass and fed two mules as I played with my camera. I thought about asking "Have you ever kissed a mule?" but thought better of it. I could anticipate some response like "I kiss you. Doesn't that count?" Instead, I raised the camera and said "Give that mule a kiss."

Kissing a Mule.
Kissing a Mule. (Larger version)

After lunch we opted for some time alone. Julie chose to find a comfortable spot and read a novel. I chose to follow the Clear Creek trail for a couple miles. The trail climbs about 1000 feet, passes Phantom Overlook where most of Phantom Ranch is visible, and continues almost nine miles to Clear Creek.

Colorado River Below the Clear Creek Trail.
Colorado River Below the Clear Creek Trail. (Larger version)

The views from the top and the experience touched something spiritual in me. It felt good to be alive. No one broke the solitude. Flowers were in bloom, birds were singing and a few lizards scurried for cover. A breeze tempered the sun and a few clouds led shadows across the river and canyon walls. Far below rafts floated down the river and stopped at the beach. I could see the rafters but not hear them. They were in another beautiful world that was separated from my perfect world.

The Clear Creek Trail.
The Clear Creek Trail. (Larger version)

When I got back to the Ranch I found Julie sitting by the creek reading. A while later I asked "What's been the best part of the trip thus far?" "Sitting here reading" she replied. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it." I understood. The best part for me at the point was the time I spent alone on the Clear Creek Trail.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

What a great day for you guys!

4/16/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

It does my soul good knowing that you guys are out there tasting the sweetness of life.

Good all over you.

4/17/2008 09:51:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home