It was so fantastic to be settled in at Phantom Ranch - commuting to work each day along the numerous trails through Bright Angel Canyon. Working with Sjors was hilarious, too. The first work day (Wednesday), we used our hoes and hands to clear out the irrigation ditches in the campground. It took most of the day (figuring in lunch breaks and numerous chatting sessions), but by the time we were done there weren't a weed in those puppies. Two of us got attacked by wasps - luckily I only got stung once. I'm not deathly allergic, but I do swell a lot. It just made my head bigger, though
Thursday Sjors handed me a set of lopers and a ladder and let me trim trees in the campground and around the ranch. I know, maybe I'm insane, but there are few activities more cleansing than a good tree trimming party! I finished early, so the afternoon I pitched in to help the crew that was applying linseed oil to the fences and signs.
Friday I hiked out with Rob (of Wilderness Vagabond fame) to paint the couple of signs at the Pipe Creek Beach. It was a delightful morning, and swapping stories with such an experienced hiker was a real treat. We finished off with Kurt covering the signs around the campground and ranch.
At the end of each day, Pat Davis had prepared us an amazing dinner - spaghetti, pot roast, salmon cakes, you name it! I only wish I'd been able to burn off enough calories to eat without care - but though we were working hard, it wasn't hardly working
She started all over with breakfast each morning. I've never been so spoiled. She even did our laundry. Now that, my friends, is dedication!
On Friday night I hiked down to Boat Beach to watch the sun play on the cliffs at sunset. I was all alone, expect for a small family of mule deer who were nosily enjoying a riverside meal. That's the magic hour, isn't it? Any hour spent in the utter quiet of the canyon watching the massive river haul away it's bounty, comparing shades of pink and orange on the schist walls, squeezing cold sand between your toes. I'd have paid for the chance to do this - and here I was, gratis and lovin' it!
Saturday we had a day to play in the canyon. I hiked up BA canyon to Phantom Creek to see how far I could get upstream. Answer: not far, but far enough to check out some really awesome slot action! I wish I'd had company or some ropes to get me up past the little slick waterfall that stopped my progress - but, then, just spending the bulk of the day playing around in that little wonderland was plenty satisfying.
Sunday we were back at work. Several of the crew were hiking out, so our force was a little smaller. Most of them were working on re-securing the floor panels of the Silver Bridge. Those of you who know me know that suspension bridges really aren't my thing - particularly if I have to kneel down on them and stare through the grating to the raging waters below. Instead, I offered 'support', shuttling drinks and snacks, putting away tools and acting kinda like the 5-year-old-dad's-helper type. Suited me fine, it meant 3 trips between the bunkhouse and the bridge. Darned all that walking
We took plenty of opportunities to avail ourselves of the cantina's offerings - Kurt was particularly generous in his efforts to secure a drinking buddy. A couple of times I was left with a half a beer to chug as they were closing the place down. I managed, and even contributed my empty to one of the largest beer can pyramids I've seen in a very long time. Man - those canyon types - you just can't tell what they're capable of!
Monday was for hiking out - but that's a whole different story.
My mileage here is a shot in the dark at a distance for all the trips to and from the work sites, out to Phantom Creek and back, and my evening spent on Boat Beach. I tried to use my GPS for the Phantom Creek bit - and after it told me I'd walked 19 miles in 2 hours, I gave up. Darned canyon walls - interfere with the best satellite signals!