Rafting the Grand Canyon….August, 2021 

Day 1 7.26 
So, I’m not in the Grand Canyon yet….I didn’t have to be there until Thursday, so I took a couple of days to hike in Sedona…love this place!

I drove into town & bought ice & a coffee from the Starbucks inside the grocery store.  Then I took off to Cathedral Rock hoping for a parking spot…it was 7:30 am when I arrived & I grabbed the last spot.  It’s a popular hike & really pretty fun!  You hike up, up, up & up that long crack you see in the middle of the rock.

The crack from the bottom.

Cathedral Rock

Another solo hiker & I swapped cameras so I actually got my photo taken out on the rock.

Hiking back down the crack.

I had to squeeze in as many hikes as I could in 2 short hot days.  I drove to hike up Bell Rock, but didn’t make it to the top; only 1/2 way up. I’ve never made it to the top.  I get an A for effort this time as I hiked around to one side & kept trying to ‘throw my body’ up on the rock to get higher.  Quite a few people had found their way to the top, but not me.  So I hiked around it the other way, until there was no more trail, then I hiked down.  I could feel my cranky ankle when I had to take giant steps down, so I decided not to push it any more.

So, then I did the hike around Courthouse Rock.  I’d done this one before, only going other way.  Super easy hike, but not too many people on the trail.  Love the Ocotillo cactus!   And it’s a happy one all leafed out!

Courthouse Rock

The day still had plenty left in it, but I was done hiking….going to give my ankle a rest.  I decided to drive the hour to Jerome…I was hoping to find a book by the late Katie Lee who lived there…or some inside info on her.

I was hungry to I went to Haunted Hamburger.  The whole town is supposed to be haunted…I love this stuff.  I sat at the bar, ordered the Ghost Burger & one hell of an awesome shake! Now dairy doesn’t like me too well in my older age, but sometimes it’s worth the problems it causes.  This was vanilla ice cream, tons of caramel, real like-you-cooked-them-at-home bacon bits (a huge amount of them) & lots of bourbon.  OMG…it was fantastic!  So was the burger, but the shake I’ll never forget!

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I strolled around Jerome a bit.  I’ve been here a couple of times before.  One place I love, love, love is Nellie Bly’s….the largest kaleidoscope store in the world!  So fun to go in & check them all out…& they do let you look through any of them you want!

Look at the detail in the one below….

More scenes from Jerome…

lots of stairs that lead up or down from one block to another.  The whole town is built on the side of a mountain.

The long road filled with switchbacks leaving Jerome & the big view down into the valley.

I never found a book by Katie Lee or anything else in town regarding this fighter of dams & lover of the Colorado River.  I did ask my bartender if she knew her, but she just said ‘yes’ & left it at that. I’ve read all her books & downloaded a bunch of her music…I guess that will have to be enough.

Then I headed back to the same area I camped last night.  Since the mud was drier & no rain in the forecast, I drove up higher on the hill with a brand new view.

Day 2 7.27 
I made coffee in camp then headed to the Hiline trailhead.  This is also a mountain bike trail, although rated difficult for bikers, so you don’t get too many on the trail.  And, very, very few people.  I usually only hike up the high point then turn around.   The view at the top looks across the valley to Cathedral Rock…pretty cool!  For some reason, my mind was filled to the chaotic brim, going slightly bonkers & dwelling on dark things as I hiked up the trail.  I sat for a long, long, long time at the top, trying to exorcise all those demons from my head.

I decided to do another hike, one I’ve done before…this one to Boynton Canyon; one of the vortex hikes in the area.  Maybe if I couldn’t rid myself of demons, something else would!  As I was finding directions to the trailhead, I scrolled through a couple of pages on Google to find some new info about the hike.  There was a ‘secret’ cave you could hike to off this trail (I realize with finding out this info on the internet, it’s probably not too secret anymore).  Yes!  a new challenge.  So, I took a couple of screenshots, drove all the way to the trailhead, filled up with water (because it’s boiling hot out!) & hit the trail, noting my mileage every 15 minutes or so.  At one point in the hike, I went to pass a young couple turning in circles on the side of the trail.  They asked me if I knew where the cut off trail was to Subway Cave & the Native American dwellings.  They were looking for the same secret as I was!  We compared notes, then I went on ahead.  

About the time I thought I should be at the mile I needed to look for the cave trail, I slowed down.  In about 2 minutes I found a branch across a big open area going back into the trees.  This usually means the trail does not go this way…but I had a feeling…so I took it.  And I found the trail & it went across the creek.  About that time I ran into a couple coming down the trail & they filled me on all the details.  I asked them to look for the couple behind me & let them know about the trail too.  

The trail got super rough & really sketchy.  I knew one wrong turn & the only way I’d get back was to be beamed back by some Sedona-aliens.  Then I found it!  I saw the dwellings first & looking up you could see more than one “cave” high above.  

However, to get to the Subway Cave you had to climb up this ‘slide’.  I looked it over…it was way up above my head.  The lady I’d talked to on the trail, told me she had gotten up it, but it was difficult.  I walked around it as best I could.  I set my poles aside & tried to climb up on it, but couldn’t get high enough. 

I tried jumping up on it & in a stupid looking move tried throwing my body up on it.  I tried walking up what looks like stone steps to get up on it, but the rock just got higher.  My ankle, my brain, my intuition was all telling me to just “STOP!”.  I was defeated by a tall rock.  With no one around to boost me up, I gave up.  Today was not my day to get up the slide & find the cave.

So, I spent a few more minutes looking up to the old dwelling wondering what stories it could tell.  Then I started back.  And, it seemed like the trail got more faint on my way back.  At one point I thought I was lost, but the trail was just barely visible…then I found where it got better.  As I made my way down, I ran into the young couple who was on the trail…then I ran into about 10 noisy guys asking if they were on the right trail to the secret-not-so-secret cave.  It looked like there’d be a party up there today!  I opted not to hike all the way to the canyon, but went back to my car & dumped an entire Nalgene bottle over me trying to cool down & clean up.

I took off for my favorite Happy Hour in Sedona at Vino de Sedona….great outdoor space, live music & a decent selection of craft beer & good wine.

I had a couple of beers & a really good Cuban sandwich (you know I’m still conducting my research on Cuban sandwiches).  I was waiting till the music started which was supposed to be a Frank Sinatra copy cat.  Well, the food, drink & ambiance was great….but the singer, seemed older than Frank & all of the rat pack.  And while he did technically sing their songs….well, lets just say he gave it his best shot.  But I was done for the day, so I went back to camp at the exact same place I’d camped out last night.

It was super hot, so I gave up a gallon of my water, stripped as far down as I could, & took a shower with my new shower hose & bucket.  It felt great!  

Day 3 7.28 
I took a long morning in camp, making coffee then doing yet another shakedown of gear for my Canyon trip, which is super difficult to lay out all that crap in the back of the 4Runner (there are ants all over the ground).  Then I drove back into Sedona to the Peace Park for a little walking meditation & sent wishes out for a safe float trip & that my family will all be well & good while I’m gone.

Then I took off for Flagstaff & checked out some camping for tonight along the way.

I’ve been here 2 or 3 times before, & they had some super cute shops & an awesome place to eat & a super weird pay phone that talked back to you in this building called Old Town shops.  But the phone was gone & the eatery was different.  I walked through the two shops, but only bought ….a couple of stickers (bet you could have guessed that!).  I asked for recommendations for lunch, & the super cool girl in one shop sent me to Tourists Home where I ordered the Fried Chicken & biscuits & drank three glasses of iced tea.  I visited a couple of artists galleries & a gear shop. 

The skies grew dark & began to boom…looked like a thunder storm was blowing in.  Maybe the monsoons aren’t finished yet.  I drove out of Flag a few miles south to the big pine forest where I’d camp for the night.  I opened a beer & thought about what the next few days might be like.

Day 4 7.29 
I made coffee in camp then started re-arranging my 4Runner…she was getting another passenger today!  I picked Jill up from the airport around 9:30am then we went to run a couple of errands.

Then we noticed a smell.  I had noticed a couple of days ago that when I turned my A/C on high, there was a weird vibration.  So, I just quit turning it on high.  But, what was that smell?  It smelled like something dead.  Uh-oh.  Jill & I were on our way to our friends house for lunch.  Mary Ellen met both of us at a Girl Camper event in Waxahachie TX about 4 years ago.  She’s the one who talked to me about rafting the Canyon & everything wonderful included in such a trip.  

We had a wonderful lunch & fantastic visit & she gave me the name of her mechanic…perfect!  A guy who only works on imports…my kind of mechanic (Steve @R&A Imports—big huge thank you!).  I stopped by there & he told me to come back in 20 minutes.  So, I dropped Jill at the hotel & spent the next couple of hours waiting while they cleaned dead mouse bits off my A/C fan & motor…yuck!  I made it back to the hotel in time for us to hit up a local not-so-great Mexican place…although the Margarita wasn’t bad, then back to the hotel for a mandatory meeting presented by the outfitter taking us down the canyon.

Wow…lots of info.  And we’d been taking in lots of info for the past 18 months.  This trip seemed like it would never get here.  We were handed two dry-seal bags…the blue one for our camp gear & the white one for our river gear.  A burlap bag for up to 36 cans of whatever beverages you wanted.

While Jill & I are pretty minimal packers & have been over & over & over AZRA’s pack list multiple times (I already had my stuff sorted in packing cubes) it was a little bit of mayhem in the hotel room.  Finally we just said, ‘it’s good enough” & went to bed.

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