Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Good Times

Some people ride mules into The Grand Canyon. It’s fun to watch the way they walk the day after that. I tried really hard to find a video to insert of a mule ride down that didn’t have swearing in it. This is the best I could do, there aren’t any PG versions. I apologize for the last three seconds. Don’t watch it or listen if it will offend you. It’s not my video. I walked, remember?  And I was praying, not cussing.
I want to know how those mule riders slept that night. Every time you start to drift off, after hiking down, your brain screams, “DON’T GO NEAR THE EDGE!” and you jerk awake. Cannot fathom what your brain says after a day skimming over the edge of the trails perched on the back of a giant mule. Those mules walk on the razor’s edge of the trail; as a matter of fact I think they like to do it on two legs, judging by their footprints, looks like there are times when even one will suffice. Of course while I watched the mule rider’s rodeo-walk the morning after, I was sidling along like a crab trying desperately not to further inflame beleaguered muscles or step down for any purpose.
One of the hikers in our group had gotten sick the night before the hike down. Let’s call him Dusty. Dusty was dehydrated before we even met at the trailhead to hike down. Fortunately he managed to secure a room at the top of the canyon (since he had to stay on the rim to bark at the ants) while the rest of us headed heartlessly down to Phantom Ranch without him. “We’ll take pictures, Dusty!  Get well soon!”  We missed him, but all agreed it was better for Dusty to stay up top and live another day and he was in no condition to argue. So imagine our surprise, when on our first day at the ranch, a woman came running into camp and shouted that Dusty was on the bridge over the Colorado River and it didn’t look like he was going to make it. Amazing how no matter how much it hurts, you can run when you have to. That’s what his real friends did, but I did toss them a bottle of water to take, before continuing to write out my mule delivered post-cards.
Dusty had decided that he was hiking that canyon by George, and he did. He took a shorter, steeper trail down, a meaner one, one with no water or shade, and he only had two liters of water on him. I wish I had some of his pictures to post, where he’s lying against a canyon wall all by himself looking so wretched and homeless. The rest of us had plenty of water on our hike down, and on top of that we had an experienced canyon hiker with us. Let’s call him Saul. Saul lives in Arizona, he knows how to survive in the desert, he knew how much water we needed, he shared his snacks, and he put up with all the grief we gave him the whole hike down. “Are we there yet?  What do you mean that was only one mile?!  How much longer?”  Poor Dusty did not have luxury of Saul’s expertise, cheerful coaching, or even enough water. Dusty didn’t even have the camaraderie of a group to cheer him along. I really think he should get an, “I hiked the Grand Canyon ON MY OWN tattoo”.
Do you recall the young mother of twins who hiked down with us?  Let’s call her…  Sassy (I’m really excellent at disguising names.). Remember she’s the full-time college student/full-time job/full-time Momma of little twins?  She BROUGHT HER HOMEWORK WITH HER. Yes, she carried her Biology book in her backpack, in and out of The Grand Canyon. Surely that is worth extra credit. She spent her free day doing homework in the great outdoors, enjoying the sounds of nature. Personally I think the sounds of nature were protesting homework on vacation, but that’s just my opinion.

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