Saturday, October 15, 2011

Arrived at the Grand Canyon

I haven't posted since the morning of the 12th so I do need to catch up. We are now at Mather Campground of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We had not planned on arriving here until tomorrow, but we decided to come on because if I wanted to be successful at getting a permit to camp at Indian Garden, I needed to be at the Backcountry office before 8:00 am. We do not have to be at Phantom Ranch until late afternoon on Tuesday so Janie and Mason Honeycutt and I had decided that we wanted to hike down to Indian Garden on Monday, set up camp and then go out to Plateau Point at sunset. Then we would hike on down to Phantom on Tuesday. In order to do that we would need a permit and the only (usually) way to get one is to apply four months in advance or be in line when the office opens on the day prior to when the permit is needed. This is because they do hold back a few "walk up" permits. Even if I were to follow that procedure, our chances of getting a permit are not good.
Hopefully, my chance encounter with a ranger will help us get the permit. It so happens that just when we pulled into the campground a ranger that I had met on a previous service project pulled up. I spoke with her and explained what we wanted to do. She was already aware that someone (I had called the backcountry office last week) was trying to get a permit. She said she thought she could get one for us and I am to go by the office in the morning and they should have a permit for us. I hope this works out!

Before leaving Durango, we spent time on Thursday exploring Silverton. We have been there many times, but on that day the weather was absolutely beautiful. The trees were a bit past peak, but they were still amazing.

While in Silverton we were admiring the Wyman Hotel exterior and decided to go in and look around. The desk clerk was very kind and after talking with her for a bit we soon discovered that we had much in common as she is a retired teacher from TX. The more we talked, the more we had in common and we soon learned that the owner of the hotel is an avid ultra runner and very active with the Hard Rock 100
While I was upstairs touring the unoccupied rooms, Hollie stayed downstairs to continue to talk to the lady. When I got back down, there was the owner. We talked with him for quite a long time and  I ended up breaking one of my self imposed rules of running shirts. I almost never buy or wear a shirt from a race that I have not run or served as a volunteer. I asked if he had any extra shirts that I could buy, thinking that I would get one for my son. He did have shirts, but only smaller sizes so I bought 3 from different races---for myself. They are tech shirts and I just could not resist the price. I can rationalize by saying that a race sponsor gave them to me (at a big discount) and that I do plan to return to Silverton and serve as a volunteer for the race---I just don’t know when that will be.
Yesterday was my last workout for the canyon hike. I walked up/down/around the Fort Lewis College campus. The school is situated high above Durango and there are dirt trails all around it. I walked 8.25 miles and now I am in taper mode.
On today's drive from Durango, we passed through Tuba City, AZ and they were having some sort of fair/celebration. There were people everywhere and considering that Tuba City is in the middle of "no where" it was surprising to so many people. I'll have to research this to determine exactly what it was all about.
The next two days I will probably play tourist and do the non hiking things such as going out to the various viewpoints and taking pictures. I'll try to post some of them tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Durango, CO

Yesterday we left Taos, NM with the intention of staying in Pagosa Springs, CO for a couple of days. It has been several years since we were in Pagosa and it seems that during that time, many of the stores/businesses have shut down. It’s still an interesting town, but we just decided to continue on to Durango, CO where we are now at the Alpine Rose RV Park which is located about 6 or so miles North of Durango on Highway 550. This is a nice place and we will probably stay here for several days.
After arriving and getting the trailer set up, we drove back into town so we could walk/run on the Animis River Trail. I had planned on running 3-5 miles and I did get in 3.25 miles, but it was only because I did some walking between running segments. The elevation really kicked my butt and my heart rate was really high, so I just ran until I felt the need to walk and then walked until I was recovered enough to run again.
I also have a very sore gracilis (I think that’s what it is) muscle. The other night I experienced a cramp in that area and now it is quite sore. It seems to loosen up when walking and running but when I am still for any length of time such as when sitting, it hurts until I get moving. Hopefully, this is just a minor issue and will soon go away. Although, a couple of years ago I had such an injury that took months to heal.
In a bit, I plan to head out to Highway 550 and see if I can get in a better run. If not, I’ll do the walk/run routine for at least an hour. It is a beautiful day here in Durango.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wild Rivers Recreation Area

Today I did one of my very favorite hikes. It is one that I have done at least 5-6 times and each time it seems to be more beautiful than ever before. This in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area and it is located near Taos and Questa, NM. Since I have previously done all three trails that lead down into the gorge, I knew which would be better for going down and which would be better for coming out. There is a difference!

All three trails lead to the Rio Grande river and there is a trail that goes along the river to connect them. The elevation change on each trail is between 680-800 feet over a distance of about a mile for each trail. I chose to go down the Big Arsenic Springs Trail and come out the La Junta Trail. This was a wise decision because the La Junta is the steepest and you even have to climb up a short ladder and open metal stair steps. I'm just more comfortable going up steep as opposed to coming down. There is a far greater chance of falling when coming down.

The river trail that connects the Big Arsenic and La Junta is absolutely beautiful and it is relatively flat. While hiking the 2.5 mile trail I saw only 4 people fishing and on the way down Big Arsenic, I met 3 people coming out. That is the total of 7 people that I over the course of the entire hike. I do not understand why more people do not visit this area, but that's the way it is each time I come here.

Halfway on the river trail, I stopped to call my friends Mary Ruth and Mac MIddlebrook. I was at the spot where Mary Ruth and I have twice camped for 2 nights each. I was not able to talk to her, but Mac has also hiked this area and could relate to what I was describing to him.

After taking that break, I continued on to La Junta which is so named because it is where the Red River meets the Rio Grande. There used to be a foot bridge that went across the Red and met another trail. That bridge has been washed out. I have pictures from years ago when Mary Ruth and I crawled across a big log that was all that was left of the bridge. Even the log is now gone.

The total distance I covered was somewhere between 5-6 miles with significant elevation changes which is what I needed to do in order to keep my training level in preparation for the Grand Canyon Service Project. While I was hiking, Hollie was riding the park roads. I think he rode about 27 miles which had lots of hills. He told me he saw dozens of tarantula.

Tomorrow we will be going to Pagosa Springs, CO. We will probably be there 2 mights and then go to Durango, CO.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Morning in Taos

After leaving Hattiesburg on Thursday, we drove to Gladewater, TX for the night and then on to Childress, TX for Friday night. On the way to Childress, we stopped at a Family Y in Amarillo, TX so that we could workout. I ran 5.25 miles and walked 1 mile on the treadmill and Hollie rode a stationary bike and did a weight lifiting workout. We then showered and headed to Childress. We boondocked, along with about 4 other RVs and dozens of big trucks. It was quite a night with winds 20-25 MPH and by morning gusts of 40 mph. We decided to spend some time in the McDonalds so that the front could clear before we started our journey toward Taos, NM.

We like to stay off interstates as much as possible and we were able to do that for much of the day as we were only on I-40 for a short time and then at Tucumcari, NM we drove to Las Vegas, NM. This is where Hollie got his Masters degree and worked as Assistant Basketball Coach at New Mexico Highlands University. We drove around the town and the college and then on to Taos. We could see that the mountains had a dusting of snow and when we drove over the pass, we saw quite a bit of it and we later learned that they had gotten 2-3 inches on Friday night and Saturday morning.

We are at the Taos Valley RV Park where we will stay for 1 or 2 more nights. Last night the temperature was in the high 20s/low 30s and when we turned on the furnace, it worked fine. Then it went off. I thought it would cycle back on, but it did not.  So, we headed out to the Wal-mart where we purchased a small electric heater and we were cozy and warm for the night.

As usual, this is another beautiful day in Taos. At 10:00 am the temperature is about 50 degrees, but when in the sun it feels quite nice. We will soon go out for our exercise and then spend the rest of the day checking out the area. We have been in Taos dozens of times and we always find something to do or see that is new and interesting.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 1 of Grand Canyon Trip

We left Hattiesburg at about 9:00 am this morning and will work our way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with an arrival date of October 16. On our way, we plan to spend a couple of days in Taos, Pagosa Spring and Durango. On October 18 we will meet up with our work crew at Phantom Ranch. If we are able to get a backcountry permit, Janie and Mason Honeycutt and I will start down on October 17 and spend 1 night at Indian Garden where we would like to do a sunset hike out to Plateau Point. The next day we would then hike into Phantom. Hopefully, that will work out, but I won't know until I get to the backcountry office on October 16.
This morning we had to make a side trip to Brandon, MS so that Hollie could get a computer installed on his Cattrike. That took about an hour which made us arrive late at the Antique Capital RV Park in Gladewater, TX. Because of that, we were not able to get in a workout. That's probably for the good since I haven't had a rest day in 10 days and after Tuesday's 3 hour walk on the steps and ramps of USM football stadium and a very slow 3 mile run yesterday, my body needs a break.

So far, we really do like our new 19 foot Scamp camper. It's amazing what a difference those 3 feet (our other Scamp was 16 feet) make. It is so nice to not have to convert the dinette into a bed each night. Right now, Hollie is setting at the dinette reading the paper and watching TV and I am in the loft playing on the computer. There is something to be said for a little bit of distance when we are spending so much time together.

I'm not sure where we will be tomorrow night. I do know that we will be getting off the interstate. We do drive so much slower than the traffic flow and we need to get out of the way of these speedsters. We also really enjoy seeing the sights of the "normal" countryside.