9/23/16 Mile 65.9 to 79ish

by sedona maniak

I awoke with pluck and vigor.  At some insane point, I honestly believed that everything was fine and I would just waltz into the Grand Canyon, pop down to Cottonwood Camp, hell, maybe all the way to Phantom Ranch, and come out the other side of Kaibab smiling.  My day started roughly a mile from the park entrance, which would set me up perfectly for the endeavor.  Truly, I believed this.  On the way in, I competently yet slowly ascended the North Rim fire tower to check out the landscape, then I traipsed, still pluckily, over to the guard shack and asked if there would be a place for me at Cottonwood Camp.  Because who wants to walk 13 or so more miles only to find that there is nowhere available to legally camp in this damned national park?  The unhelpful 20-something working as fee collector (if you say his job title fast enough, it gives a hint as to how I feel about this kid...fecal) thoughtfully pointed me 10 miles south, without offering any alternative, to the backcountry office.  "So," I asked, trying to make sense of the situation, "you want me to walk 10 miles to find out if I am required to leave the park to camp or not?"  "Yeah," he replied with a shit-eating smile.  You know, according to the wise sage Bob Hare (the creator of the MSLR psychopath test), psychopaths often take positions as gatekeepers.  I fucking nominate this kid; he would get along well with Donald Trump.

So, I began walking.  After the park entrance, walkers are stuffed onto old, very steep roads that park employees clearly navigate only via ATV.  My leg ached heavily.  Every rock stabbed the holes in my feet.  I began to doubt.  At some point, well into my journey, I noticed my phone making sounds...reception.  My father had wanted to meet me on the South Rim today or the next, but, with no reception, there had been no way to plan it.  I really didn't want him to waste a weekend in Tusayan waiting for me to probably not make it, so I called him, telling him my plan to hitch around to the South Rim.  The mere thought of the stupid Kaibab Trail, the stupid park rules, the damned tourists and day walkers was just too much.  I wanted out of the canyon that I've spent so many years hiking and generally hating anyway.  (Who designs a hike that has the climb on the way OUT, anyway?!)

My dad and I agreed, after some haltingly poor reception, to meet up at Jacob Lake after he'd driven all the way around the canyon to meet me.  What an excellent guy!  I got a hitch from the road which heads toward the Visitor's Center from, surprise, a couple of Germans.  They took me all the way back to Jacob Lake, where I downed a BLT and a ton of coffee, convinced a young Mormon waiter to take his bride backpacking for a honeymoon, and generally stunk up the area while making reservations for a hotel with Dad in Kanab.

From the North Rim fire tower

From the North Rim fire tower