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There’s an art to this and it’s not always easy. This would obviously not be a good spot.

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Most would agree. Often the choice is more subtle. At Monument Creek we thought it would be nice to nestle under the trees near the stream. Maybe in the summer but not November. I took a walk and found our site was at least 10 degrees colder than one located higher. We became quite adept at picking up our tent, full of sleeping pads and bags, and moving it to the choice spot.

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At some sites, we couldn’t drink the water but it was fine to bathe and rinse our clothes.

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At Hermit’s creek we had to take the last site and it was not ideal. But we spent two nights there. When our neighbors left to hike out early one morning, we scuttled over to their still warm spot with our tent, which now also held our clothes and other assorted items. What a si(gh)t(e).

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616232CE-7B4C-4A8D-87D5-ADC43D4376B4Unlike my last trip into the Grand Canyon ten years ago, I shed no tears and Tim never had to carry my pack. My fears have diminished a bit, since we moved to the mountains but I still hate a slippery slope.  I like my boots to remain firmly planted where I tell them to, thank you very much. We hiked the same path as before, only in reverse. My body has aged a bit but perhaps my mind is stronger. On multiple occasions during my first trip I employed a Pavlovian technique. Whenever I was scared to death about a narrow path, sheer precipice, 1000 foot cliff, or generally just falling off and dying, I hummed a tune from from a Disney movie, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go…”. And it worked. I was ready to start whistling this trip but never had to. I was able to identify where it happened before but I was somehow less afraid.

We met a young couple hiking out of our last campsite, and started to talk about the 8 mile Hermit Creek trail into the Canyon and I confessed that last time, I had to stop about a mile from the campsite. I could no longer stand up straight. My body was bent over from fear and weakness and I was unable to carry my pack one step farther. My hero went to the campsite, dropped off his stuff, came back and carried my pack in so I didn’t have to park my self on the trail. I was delighted to hear that the same thing had happened to this twenty something young woman. In fact, they never made it to the campsite and pitched their tent alongside the trail. I reassured her, perhaps trying to bolster myself too, that the return trip up an improved trail would be way easier after we had hiked for a week and had lighter packs after we ate all our food.

Later at the campsite another camper stopped by our tent to tell us he and his wife thought we were the cutest couple. They saw us playing cards, knitting and reading and aspired to be like us one day (in other words when they were as OLD as us). Compliment accepted, it made us smile the rest of the trip.

My stomach began churning on the bus ride to the South Kaibab trailhead on our first day of the trip. We met a group of men who were taking their umpteenth trip into the Canyon. We traded itinereries and told them we were hiking out the Hermit Trail. They complacently asked us if we had heard there had been a major rockslide there three weeks ago during a heavy rain. Oh noooooo! We had not and I was already worried about the old rockslides, given my first time down the trail. Great, I had something to worry about during the next 5 days in the Canyon.

I fell twice during our descent and was pretty pathetic getting up. Even Tim took a day to recover. We limped around our first campsite at Indian Garden among the Cottonwood trees. The wind came up after sundown and rustled the trees and tossed our drying clothes about the campsite. 30FFBEE8-278B-4219-8F15-A588B1775090

Our first meal was one I found on the internet from Outside magazine and may have been the best. I mixed dehydrated refried beans and minute rice at home, we cooked this then added taco seasoning, cheddar cheese and Fritos. It was delicious and packed the calories and salt we needed.

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The weather was ideal. Never a cloud in the sky and cold enough to wear all the clothes I carried.

Camera made it

And so did I. Actually, I ditched the camera and only brought my iPhone into the Grand Canyon and it held up. So did my knees and hips.

We camped in remote, beautiful spots. The stars and Milky Way were incredible. We slept for 10-11 hours every night. I was usually zipped into my sleeping bag by 7:30 pm; it got cold after sunset. I think temperatures were in the low 40’s.

Here’s one of our campsites at Salt Creek. We bathed in the creek, but the National Park Service dissuades people from drinking it, even with purifiers, due to the high mineral and uranium content. We had to carry enough water for 2 days, 7 miles. Water is heavy! Tim carried more than his fair share so I could remain a happy camper.

We hiked down (and up) from the top. 3500 foot elevation change and 8 miles via the South Kaibab trail going down and up, over rock slides and huge steps, via the Hermit trail. In between we walked on a sort of level trail, the Tonto Trail. This was our second night in the Canyon.

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Reflections

We took a circuitous trip to the Grand Canyon. We drove to Montreal, one of our closest airports, had a delicious dinner at Robin Square and heard a choral concert at Place des Artes.

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We had a propitious beginning to our journey when someone paid for our coffee at a drive through kiosk. Then our airport shuttle in Montreal was rear ended this morning and Tim was yelling whiplash.

We flew to Phoenix and drove to the East entrance of the Grand Canyon and enjoyed a spectacular sunset.

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Now I’m pretty sure Tim’s pack is heavier than mine before we take off for 6 days in the Canyon. Last time my camera died after 2 hours. I hope I have better luck this trip. No use crying.

Not a bad commute

Here we are back home on the range (ridge); really neither. The leaves are almost at their peak. I attended a conference in Burlington, VT last week and got to see the sun rise over the Green Mountains of Vermont. They were anything but green and the lakescape from the bouncing ferry was pretty nice.

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Another day I headed south for work and could see the leaves changing over a local pond. I’m lucky I get to work on time with all these distractions.

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This week I am trying to resume walking the two miles to and from work in preparation for our next backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. I’ll probably be too lazy to add 30 pounds to my pack but will keep walking the walk.

Birds abound at home. We have at least one pileated woodpecker, northern flickers, chickadees, barred owls, goldfinch, sparrows, thrush, hawks. What we don’t have are pigeons. Yet a mile and a half from home, not exactly an urban area, they abound.

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Hope they keep to that old, decrepit building.

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Woman of Seguin

There was a recurring theme floating in my head the whole time we were on Seguin. (Tim, sign off now, you are sick of this). Life on a remote island still has so many similarities to the fictional documentary filmed in 1934, The Man of Aran, a favorite of mine. It follows the daily life of a small family eeking out a living on the remote island off of Galway.

I relate to the woman in the movie and believe it could be renamed:
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We are an equal and active participant in the hard work island life entails.
We lug things up and down the “rock”, always with good cheer.
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We are involved whenever boats are launched off the beach, regardless of the conditions, and sometimes get drenched to our necks. And laugh about it.
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We wear slipper-like shoes to climb the rocks and trails, to walk in the water, and to fish off the cliffs. They used ballet-like leather slippers and I wear Mary Jane crocs. Same thing.
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So I propose a new documentary, let’s call it:
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We returned home yesterday and took the dinghy through a wall of water to get to our trusty lobster boat and ride ashore. I got fully drenched in the process and the replacement keepers’ food took a bath when a wave washed over the dinghy.
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One of the neighbors came down to the beach to wave goodbye.
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Even on the last day, on our tenth year at Seguin, it revealed something new to me. The concrete base I painted highlighted initials carved into it from 1959. I guess I will have to come back another time and figure out whose they are. Or to whom they belong. And get ready to lug all our supplies back up the hill.
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Just passing by

5E666643-3461-4450-B347-0B3718BC0D8B91077D2A-5E7D-4777-B575-ADB2D8F58FBEWe applied the finishing touches to the Tram Engine House yesterday and it looks spiffy. Tim did more of the ladder work than I, but groundwork has its issues too.

While we sat on the porch with the last of our cocktails, a small city floated by.

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Another popular way to leaf peep along the coast of Maine. Later, I saw another ship further off shore, both were headed downeast.

As long as it is moderately calm, lobster boats haul their traps. Last night at 03:00 there was a boat hauling traps, under the moonlight, a half mile south of the island. Maybe they had big plans for the daylight hours.

The Monarch butterflies remain in large numbers and I love when they fly in a loose swarm around me.

Now, I want you to make the sound of a plane buzzing close by; something like mmrroowww, or perhaps vrooom. This is what we heard as we made breakfast in the kitchen. We looked out and saw a small prop plane buzz our clothes line.

And of course, we’re just passing by too.

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