South Kaibab Trail

We are on the homestretch of the A to Z this week with only eight letters to go. As in hiking, this final stretch is going to be challenging since I no longer have posts written ahead and am getting tired (and would rather enjoy spring outside than do writing inside). It feels like uphill all the way…

The South Kaibab Trail is the one my hike will start on – they call it a corridor trail, meaning that it is one of two or three that is regularly patrolled and maintained. It is part of the Arizona Trail system going all the way from Mexico to Utah.

After our first day of having our gear checked over and learning about the area we will walk through, I’m guessing we will meet early at Bright Angel Lodge and take the first shuttle bus of the day to the trailhead. It’s a ways away from Grand Canyon Village and there is no parking there for private vehicles. We will start our descent of 4,700 feet over the next seven miles. We will meet mules and other hikers on the trail. There are a couple restrooms on the way, but no water sources until we reach the bottom of the canyon. About the only shade will be from the canyon walls. The grade will be as steep as 22% at the final section and there will be many switchbacks. Doesn’t that sound like fun? But wait, it’s worth it.

There just aren’t a lot of ways to go down these amazing cliffs.  The South Kaibab was supposedly built to foil Cameron who had started charging $1 per person to use the Bright Angel Trail. It is steeper and shorter but has some of the most amazing views available.

  • One of them is .9 miles on the way and is called Ooh-Aah Point, because that is what most people say when they get there. I’m going to try to say something more original. It’s a good distance for a casual day hike.
  • Next is Cedar Ridge at 1.5 miles, another good point for day hikers to turn around.
  • Followed by Skeleton Point at 3 miles, where there is reportedly a 360 degree view of the canyon, and the first view of the river.
  • Followed by Tip Off at 4.6 miles where the steepest section of switchbacks starts, taking us down to the Black Suspension Bridge, Bright Angel Camp and Phantom Ranch. 

Although it is described as knee jarring, it is all downhill, right? I think I can do it.

The river – there it is!

Oh, What Shall I Wear?

Oh, what shall I wear (that doesn’t make me look like a dork)?

I have photos of all my most memorable hikes. Most of them were taken by me so I am not in them (before selfies) but the ones I am in are always a little embarrassing. Some people look really cool when they’re hiking (and that is SO important) but me, not so much. I just don’t look like I know what I’m doing.

This hike might be different, although I’m not going to bet on it. I’ve had time to prepare and get some real hiking clothes. I justify it more on the practical side so I don’t appear totally vain and superficial. The right hiking clothes do make a difference in comfort, and I have listened to people talk about comfort a lot.

I’ve already shown you about the weather extremes that are possible in May (in post E) so you know that layering on top is going to be important. I also value things that breathe, dry quickly, and are stretchy to allow me to move. I love pants with good pockets, that will not look dirty even if I wear them all three days, and are somewhat water resistant. With these things in mind here is my list.

  • 2 short sleeve T shirts
  • 1 long sleeve T shirt
  • 1 fleece pullover
  • 1 rain jacket (which I might leave behind if the forecast is for no rain)
  • 1 pair convertible pants/shorts
  • 1 pair long pants
  • Socks and underwear
  • Brimmed hat and bandanna
  • Warm hat and gloves

I already wrote about my hiking boots and socks, but I’ll also take along a pair of lightweight camp shoes to give my boots a rest at night.

Actually, I am going to look like a dork on this hike too, because I found this awesome hat that I can also wear all summer in Wisconsin. It will keep the giant mosquitoes and deer flies off my head because it has a bug net that I can lower for ultimate protection.

Front and back selfie – my awesome bug hat.

Another useful purchase for this hike was a set of gaiters. These attach to my boots and come up to my knee to keep my pants and legs clean and dry, and keep debris out of my boots. They are easy to put on and comfortable to wear. I’ve already tried them out – they are good in the snow, an added bonus.


So, what do you think? Am I ready? (ready to look “not cool” in this year’s pictures too?)

Layer Cake Geology

Geology has never been a compelling subject in my world. I would just as soon leave it to those who find it fascinating – like my niece Jamie who is a geologist. But I have to say that the Grand Canyon is a very unusual, actually singular, place when it comes to geology. The rock layers are found in chronological order, the youngest on top with evidence of past marine life, and the oldest, Vishnu schist, on the bottom with no evidence of life in it. Every kind of formation you can imagine can be found there: mesas, buttes, temples, platforms, castles, terraces, massive walls, amphitheatres, canyons, ridges…

As the Colorado River cut down through the earth it exposed layer after layer of deposited soil and rock. Because the layers were of different kinds of rock, they are different colors, different hardness and different levels of stability. The scenes in the canyon are like looking at a record of time, laid open on the walls of the canyons. The layers match on both sides of the river which proves that it was the process of erosion over time that caused the chasm. The plateaus on either side of the river were once continuous.

Science estimates it has taken 1.2 billion years to erode through all those layers and countless numbers of people, scientists, geologists have been left speechless looking at the grand scale of it all.

That’s all for L.  Short and sweet, but lots of pictures.

Even looks kind of like a layer cake…

scene at Grand Canyon National Park

Photos from


Indians or Native Peoples of the Grand Canyon area

My first visit to a pueblo was several years ago at Mesa Verde in Arizona.  Pueblos are multi-room dwellings made of clay and the ones at Mesa Verde were built in the clefts of a canyon wall. The native people who lived there were most likely Anasazi, who left the area in the 1300’s A.D. during years of drought. They vanished, leaving behind these remarkable dwellings. They were named Anasazi, or Ancient Ones by the Navajo people north of the canyon.  It is an amazing place to visit.

There were different tribes of the pueblo peoples who inhabited the Grand Canyon, most of whom were semi-nomadic farmers and hunter gatherers. They traveled back and forth from rim to lower canyon to rim, depending on the season. Many of their trails are still present and used by visitors. Indian Gardens is a campground on the Bright Angel Trail but was once an area farmed by the Havasupai tribe.

Presently, one place to experience Native American culture is on the Havasupai Reservation in Havasu Canyon. That is one part of the canyon that my brother has not visited yet and still hopes to. We tried to get reservations to visit there last year but could not. The Havasupai have their own tourist bureaus and quotas of visitors. I love what their name means – “people of the blue-green water”.  They and the Walapai tribe (“people of the pine tree”) live in the western region of the South Rim.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk, on what is called the West Rim of the canyon, is actually on the Hualapai Reservation and outside of Grand Canyon National Park. It is an amazing cantilever bridge, out from the cliff in a horseshoe shape, and 4000 feet above the canyon floor.  Add to that a glass walkway and you have a real tourist attraction.  I have seen pictures of people who became paralyzed with anxiety as they looked down and had to be carried off the walkway. 

There is a lot of controversy within the Hualapai tribe and outside of the tribe concerning this bridge. There are people on the environmentalist side who aren’t sure it’s a good way to preserve the canyon. There are others on the practical side who feel the bridge is a way to raise money for serious needs of the tribe. It’s complicated.

The Hopi people live in the eastern section of the South Rim, and to the southeast are the Zuni tribes. North of the canyon is the Paiute Reservation in the west and the Navajo Reservation in the east. The Navajo were latecomers to the region and lived in the canyon itself only in the 1860’s when being pursued by the U.S. Cavalry. In addition to farming and herding, many of the tribes are craftsmen/women in cloth weaving, basketry, pottery and jewelry making.  You’ve probably heard of Navajo blankets and rugs, right?

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail, I can’t wait to climb this “corridor trail” out of the canyon. It’s the most commonly used trail and its trailhead is at the Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon Village. On my brief visit years ago, I had breakfast at the Lodge and wistfully walked a few yards down this wide, well maintained road, knowing that I had to turn around and go back in a few minutes.

Many hikers go down into the canyon on this trail and because of that it has several places where water and restrooms are located. There is a campground called Indian Gardens about 4.5 miles down. It was used first by the Havasupai Indians for accessing water at Garden Creek. Seasonally they stayed at Indian Gardens. The trail was widened and improved around 1890 and extended all the way to the Colorado River by Ralph Cameron. Wouldn’t you know, he started charging $1 per person to use the trail, plus more if needed water or using the outhouses.

What I wondered was why it was called Bright Angel? For a while it was called Cameron’s Trail for obvious reasons, but later he named it after Bright Angel creek and canyon. And those places got their names from the explorer John Wesley Powell. He thought the creek was delightfully pretty and clean, unlike one farther upriver called Dirty Devil. Yes, Dirty Devil and Bright Angel, makes perfect sense.

Bright Angel Trail is not quite as steep as the other trail we are using to go down into the canyon, but even so, it climbs more than 600 feet per mile on average. The total ascent will be 4,380 feet, about a 10% grade.

The Park Service does not recommend trying to hike down and back out in one day on this trail, especially in the busy summer season. In off seasons it has some cold and windy sections near the top of the south rim, and there might even be snow and ice. Many use it as a day hike to Indian Gardens which is quite do-able. It is rated as a moderately difficult hike and even though water is available I will carry my own as well.  

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Is Fall Fallen?

The grass is still green. There are still leaves on some of the trees. But, the white stuff is snow and it’s coming down as a storm.

Since the picture above was taken, we have been swept into white-out condition with wind gusts and other weather drama. In a way, the extreme earliness of cold weather is exciting and part of what I love about the snowy north. I love it from within our cozy living room. I love it at the begining of the six or seven month stretch (when the snowbanks are not blocking the view).

We may still get an Indian summer in November but right now it’s hard to see it.

I like white. It’s a pretty color.

The 15th of October

I have a friend (at least one, thank God!) who has a birthday today. What a joy it is to me to think about someone who is special and dear, and be able to share those thoughts publicly. Meet my friend Arlette.

There is something about her that actually looks French, but I’m not sure what it is…

You will notice that she has a name which I think both looks and sounds French. She is of French origin and this comes through in so many of her ways. Of course, there is the accent which she has not been able to shed (nor should she) even though she is fluently English speaking. I hardly ever have to wonder what she is saying. I love the way she and her French-speaking husband call each other “chere”. Sometimes, she will be thinking of an exact word in French but not able to immediately find the English equivalent. She will question Dwight and together they will come up with it. Endearing.

I met Arlette because our husbands were thrust into work together. The men set up an office in Sarasota for their company, an American subsidiary of a French corporation. Although we women knew each other and the Shackelfords were very kind in helping us get settled in Florida, we did not automatically jump into friendship. That started when Arlette agreed to tutor my home-schooled daughters in their French lessons. Merci beacoup mon ami!

Two people who speak French very well, and a daughter who still knows a little of it, I think.

As time progressed, we became better friends, mainly because Arlette is an accomplished hostess (which she has trouble admitting, but it is true). Her invitations were NEVER turned down. I don’t have any other friends who do a small, intimate dinner evening for two or three couples so excellently. She loves beautiful flowers in simple vases, interesting tableware, luxurious touches like cloth napkins, just the right music, and well-planned food choices. She believes in appetizers, which I have to admit were a new thing for me. My family experience – we sat down and ate. At Arlette’s house I learned to enjoy a warm up meal before the real thing.

We deepened our friendship in the last ten years because we learned of common things in our faith worldview. I felt Arlette would really enjoy Bible Study Fellowship, which I was attending. She finally agreed to check it out, hoping to put an end to my annoying requests. I was right, she liked it. We have had nearly ten years of enjoying spiritual growth together. It is hard to put into words what sharing our hearts, and mutually acknowledging what God is doing in our lives has done for me. I view her friendship as a gift from God, evidence that he kindly answers my need for companionship.

Arlette is my friend who says she is not brave but nonetheless allows herself to be talked into outings a bit past her comfort zone, like expeditions in the kayak. She has braved a weekend in a motel with me, let the husband and I have free overnight stays in her home, exercised me with many long walks, hauled my furniture and boxes around, advised me on home décor, helped me plan parties, listened to me for hours on end. There are some things I haven’t convinced her to do with me yet, but the potential is still there. I don’t intend to let this girl rest.

So, happy birthday, my friend. Don’t worry about getting older. You are still younger than me and, barring a miracle, will always be. God bless you today and always. I love and appreciate you.

You are lovely!

Up North: The First Snow

The hydrangeas never give up, and they look real good with a dusting of snow.

Today it snowed. It wasn’t dramatic. The temperature has been inching down toward the freezing mark over the last week or two. We have had a lot of rain, which usually will spoil the fall color and make the leaves turn uniformly brown and dull. But this year the colors have held out brilliantly. Today, every time we looked out the window the weather was changed from our last observation. The sun would come out briefly and be followed within minutes by a snow squall.

Since I will so soon be taking pictures of snow, I need to finish letting you all know how beautiful autumn has been. I am so blessed by God the artist, that I don’t have to take a vacation and travel to see the woods in glorious color. It’s right here in my backyard. Last Sunday, after lunch with the family, we didn’t want to go straight home. Mom, the husband and I drove out in the country, to the lake, just to see what the trees were doing. Later, I got to explore a park I had never been to with my brother and his wife. It was a wonderful day – that’s what “full of wonder” means. My  phone is so full of pictures – no way could I show them all – but here are some.

Seriously, the air itself takes on a glow when there is this much gold and yellow overhead.

But it’s the abundance of reds that stand out this year.

A path to remember – my hiking companions Den, MaryPat and Scruffy.

I love the color contrast with the remaining green. We came upon this pond in the forest – magical.

At the lake, a bald eagle did a circle of the shore while we watched.


Spatter technique – there was a lot of it this year.

The color is close and touchable. It is easy to feel submersed in it.


The goodness is everywhere to be seen, even down on the path.

There are so many more – it was hard to choose. I wish you all could see it. Part of the reason it is so beautiful is that it’s also so short lived, fleeting. As I said, today it snowed…

On the way…

You may have heard of Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. It’s rather famous for its careful medical analysis and care. We are on our way there, hoping to find help for the husband who feels somedays like he is losing his mind, and maybe a few other parts too.

We have set this up, correction, I have set this up and have concerns about whether all the bases are covered for a good appointment. We’ve had unpleasant, last minute surprises about insurance coverage. What I thought would be three days, maybe four, of testing is now stretching out over a week. We may go home for the weekend and back on Monday rather than live in a motel the whole time. I just have uncertainty about whether we are prepared. The husband has not been able to help much.

We are not fearful. We will do all we can think to do, but it is clear that we are not in control here and haven’t found anyone else who is either. That leaves God. I see some pretty crazy things he claims to have done, pointing to some measure of control. I’m going with whatever he sets up. Done it before and can’t say I’ve ever been sorry. Whatever happens, we’ll claim it’s good because he says it will be. He has a lot of skin in the game, and no reason to lie.

Pray for us if you will – me, the husband and Mom – on this trip. Thanks.

What Happens “Up North”: Traveling

With airports being so busy and all, I know delayed flights happen all the time, for all sorts of crazy reasons. The special northern thing that happens where I now live is that the nearest airport is about 3 hours away. It’s really special. Here’s why.

North Carolina daughter is flying up for the family reunion. Her flight was through Atlanta and scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis at midnight. There are no Uber drivers, no buses, no shuttles to Hayward, just good old Mom, in this case, to fetch tired, travel worn Julia to her final destination.

I left a little early for the city, intending to do some shopping on the way (there are also no big box stores in Hayward and they are my favorite shopping venues). Two hours into my trip I get a frantic text, “the flight is delayed and I don’t think I’ll make the connection in Atlanta.” Another text half an hour later, as I pull into Sam’s Club, “They can’t get me another flight to Minneapolis until 7pm TOMORROW!”

This creates a problem for the poor girl who has been dropped off at an airport an hour from her home without a ride back. This creates a problem for me, having come this far and possibly having to do it again a second time.

I decided to do the shopping to avoid the trip being a total waste. I asked her to get in line again, find a sympathetic scheduler, and plead for another flight. Surely there must be a jet in Atlanta flying north earlier than tomorrow night.

A few minutes later, another text, excited, “they just found a cancellation on a flight. I can get there at 2 am. Is that ok?”

“Yes, it is ok, even though it will make my little airport run a thirteen hour trip. It’s still better than going through the same thing again tomorrow.”

Another text. It’s a pic of her new boarding pass. She’s flying through Denver, the connections are marked as being delayed. No chance of anything going wrong there, right?

So that’s why I’m sitting in the car, in a parking lot, blogging and reading a book till 2 am. Hopefully I will get the girl and we will make the 3 hour drive home safely. This is what happens up north, just sayin’…