Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Change in Plans

We never went to Clear Creek or to the falls as planned.

The trip from the rim to Bright Angel campground on Monday was more tiring than previous trips. One hundred degrees isn't unpleasant given shade but the sun can be brutal. Julie and I discussed our plans and decided not to go all the way to Clear Creek. Tuesday would have been nine miles of sun without shade and without any source of water. Our back country permit was good for the area east of Sumner Wash so we chose to spend Tuesday at Phantom Ranch and hike past Sumner Wash in the evening hours.

About 5:15 PM we started the climb up the Clear Creek trial. The sun was above us much of the way so we hiked in shade and some weak sunshine. When we reached the top a strong wind kept us dry and cool. We found a campsite and pitched the tent in the twilight. The night sky was beautiful.

On Wednesday morning we rolled out early, made sure the tent was securely anchored, filled our pockets with food and began the return trip to Phantom Ranch where coffee and bagels awaited. During the day we moved from moment to moment depending on the whims that struck us. That's what made the trip good. No agenda. No destination. No plans.

Wednesday evening we returned to our campsite and another beautiful night of solitude.

During the trip we met several people: an Asian family from San Diego, two friends from Boston, a mid-west couple who own a bowling alley, a Pennsylvania man who turned 60 on Saturday and took a solo celebration hike while his sister cared for his wheelchair bound wife. One of my favorites was two radiologists. One was 72 and the other 79. They were slow, stiff and past their primes but they were still going. Inspiring!

The friends from Boston confirmed our decision to abandon our plans to hike the plateau to Clear Creek. They started the climb up the trail at 7 AM with four quarts of water each. One made the statement "the sun was brutal". He said they needed six quarts of water. At one point they had to erect a tarp for shade because they couldn't keep going. On their return they started late in the day, hiked until after dark and completed the hike in the early morning.

I had planned starting at 4 AM and would have carried five liters of water each. We would have made it but it would have been hot and I would have had to start out with about 65 pounds. That sounds like work.

I'm glad we changed our plans and had a few lazy days.


Blogger Malcolm said...

Youy're certainly talking temperatures which I couldn't cope with, shade or no shade, but I enjoyed sharing your travels albeit on a lazier alternative.

Thanks for sharing.

5/21/2009 05:30:00 AM  

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