The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Over the Edge

Where does the time go? I've been knitting plenty, but nothing seems to be reaching the finish line. I've been thinking about blogging, but here it is more than a month later. No posts, no FOs. I've been cleaning house, too, but you know how that is. No matter how much you dust, two days later it looks the same...

A few weeks ago we were finally able to take a week off. We loaded up the camper and headed off to the Grand Canyon for a week of peace and quiet. There was frustration right from the start. Although we had paid beaucoup bucks to get the electrical system in the camper updated and reworked, the new converter blew out on us and we lost the entire 12 volt system. Fortunately we could still use regular household current by plugging in to the campground hookups, but the heater, among other things, wouldn't work. And it got pretty cold up there! Fortunately we packed for all eventualities and had sufficient electric radiator heat to keep from freezing! Then there was the wind, a couple days and nights of high winds and gusts rattling the trailer for hours on end. But despite all that, it was wonderful to take long, lovely walks and enjoy good campground food. And despite the wind, I did finally catch up on all the sleep I've missed this summer!

Annie took a week off as well and came along with us. It is probably the last trip she will take with us for quite a while, as she will be heading off to school in another state in January. Annie came with a plan...to hike a hundred miles over the course of the week (that didn't happen), and hike to the Colorado river and back. In one day.

Now, anyone who has been to the Canyon knows that hikers are strongly discouraged from going to the river and back in one day. The average person just doesn't realize how strenuous and dangerous this can be. So all I can say is, don't try this, don't try this, don't try this.

That being said, Annie had been training for the hike. She has been hiking in the Tucson mountains and working out at the gym. Strenuously. She talked to the rangers at the Canyon.

Annie: I have some questions for you.

Nice Park Ranger Lady: How can I help you?

A: I know what you're going to say, so let's get it over with early. I'm going to hike to the river and back in one day.

NPRL: No, no, no, that's very dangerous and we don't recommend it.

A: See? Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'm going to do it, so give me some pointers.

It must be said that the NPRL did grill Annie pretty thoroughly on her physical conditioning and her knowledge of hiker emergencies and what to do, as well as her hiking plan. Once the NPRL was satisfied that Annie was capable of doing it, she did give some useful tips and information.

On the morning of the big day, Annie was up at four packing her backpack and doing her hair and face. (Doesn't everyone?) Her dad dropped her off at the head of the South Kaibab Trail, the steep trail with no water that drops pretty much straight down to the river. Needless to say, it was still pitch black out. Annie had a headlamp to get her down the trail until the sun came up; she later stated that this was the scariest part of the hike. She was coming down the side of a sheer cliff for the first mile and a half or so, and all the light she had was the battery lamp on her headstrap.

In the meantime, Joe and I drove out to Mather Point to see her come down the trail. We called her on her cell phone to see where she was. There were at least four hikers with lanterns on the trail and we wanted to see which one was her. She answered her phone and she was the hiker furthest down the trail, nearly to Cedar Ridge (for those of you familiar with the trail). Not long after that the sun did come up and she was able to turn off and stow the headband and headlight.

After she left Cedar Ridge she was on the far side of that particular side canyon and pretty much out of cell phone range. But I was not particularly worried about her. She was sticking to the main trails and there would be plenty of people on the trails with her to help her out if anything happened. But nothing did.

It did not taking long to get down to the river. She spent a while down there and got some nice pictures, as you can see.

Who can resist a little beefcake?

But then she had to climb back up.

She was able to call us as she got up to the rest stations on the Bright Angel Trail. The wind that day was terrible and she was getting extremely tired as she worked her way back up to the rim. That is where hikers get into trouble who are not in shape. Annie was in great condition and even she was getting exhausted and discouraged for the last couple miles of the hike. Joe was standing by, ready to go down the trail to meet her, take her backpack, and talk her the rest of the way up. But she did pal up with another hiker coming up from the river -- he had spent a couple nights down there -- and they encouraged each other to get up to the rim.

We were waiting in the high winds on the rim for her to come up. Here is her picture of us looking for her. (She took my camera with her for the trip.)

I had bought her a tee shirt that said "I made it down and back up again". As she stepped onto the rim I gave her the shirt and took the triumphal picture. We met the young man she had hiked back up with. (Nice young man. Glad he was there.) And is there any truth to the rumor that she was being followed by half a dozen young men as she crossed the finish line? She would have been too tired to care.

Although she had planned several more hikes for the week, Annie did not make any more trips over the rim. She was incapable of eating more than a couple sips of soup that night and was sore and exhausted for several days after that. Remember, she was in top condition for this hike. For a couple days she seldom even left the camper. Nothing to be surprised at. She had hiked twenty miles in extremely rugged and difficult conditions in ten hours and forty-nine minutes. But she did, of course, fully recover and while she may never do this hike again, she can now say that she did come, climb, and conquer!

And, not to be outdone, Michael and Carolyn ran in the Chicago Marathon and both finished the course in the official time period. But they didn't cross the finish line together. Who was first? Let's just say that it's a good thing he caught her at the altar in July!

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Blogger judy said...

I'd be surprised if it was only a HALF dozen young men. Great pictures and congrats!

6:49 AM  
Blogger JulieLoves2Knit said...

What a great accomplishment! Way to go Annie!

8:40 PM  
Blogger Roxie said...

She's beautiful girl, a hellov an athlete, and a dynomite photographer - just like her mom!

12:31 PM  

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