Friday, June 8, 2012

South Kaibab to the River (the descent)

OK, so it's been one month and a couple days since our hike, but alas, the photos...The memory is too good to skip the photos.

The plans for our South Kaibab to Bright Angel journey began a week after Spring Break when we took the whole fam to the big hole for their first time.  I got the itch to hike it again after playing around on the rim and only venturing down a short ways (it was icy and mushy in March).

So we decided to do it, made our reservations, put it on the calendar, and here we are.  We took our first born along for the ride.  What a great decision that was!
Here we are at the South Kaibab trail head at approximately 5:45 am on Saturday, May 5th.  We spent the night before in the Maswik Lodge on the South Rim and arose bright and early to catch the 5:00am hikers shuttle bus.  It left from the Back Country Information Center, about 100 yards from our hotel room so we were able to just leave our car parked right there.  It took us right to where we needed to be.  Perfect.  We rode the bus over with some hard core running tri-rimmers who looked like they were going to eat the trail for lunch.  One of the Australians had his sandwich stored in his hat because he didn't want any extra bulk.   A sweaty hot head sandwich.  Nice.

But I digress...back to us.

It was very cold and super duper windy at the top of the south rim at that early hour.  We bundled up tight and kept our glasses on to save us from the dust.  As this was my first time coming down the South Kaibab trail, I didn't know how steep it would be.  The decline seemed much steeper than the north rim, and I was so glad I had my hiking poles for support.  We all did great on the descent, although it was a little slippery in the loose dirt and Barrett could have used some better traction on her shoes.  But she had her poles too, thank goodness, and did great.

Yes, we oohed and aahed.  Truly, it was so beautiful.  The pics don't even do it justice.

Barrett and I took a few silly pics while waiting for Ryan to use the facilities.  I have no idea what I am doing here, but we were having fun.

Just a glimpse of the trail coming down the South Kaibab.

 When we looked down and saw this a couple hours into the hike, Barrett asked, "Do we have to hike that?"  I said, "Oh yes, and there's so much more where that came from."
When we turned this corner and saw this drop off, both Barrett and I gasped a little.  I don't know if you can really tell from the picture, but seriously, right in back of where Barrett is standing, is the craziest drop off to the bottom.  Really, a crazy steep drop.  Sure footing would be highly recommended here.

We waited for a few mule trains during the morning.  Trail side etiquette says you move to the side when the mules pass.  We gladly obliged.

 Another glimpse of the trail...we're getting close to the river!  Hooray!  Almost down to the bottom.  I love the river.  Something about watching the rapids and those boats makes me happy.

 It was cool crossing through the South Kaibab tunnel for the first time.  There's no tunnel going north to south, so this was something new for us.

 Isn't she so cute?  I was so proud of her for doing such a hard thing and doing it at 13!

 Crossing the South Kaibab bridge.  Yes, we took a lot of pictures on the bridge.  Good thing I'm only sharing a few of them...

 We crossed the bridge at 3 hours into the hike, but by the time we actually finished all our river gazing and picture taking and hiked about another mile to Phantom, it was 3:45 into the hike.

After eating some lunch at Phantom Ranch, partaking of a Snickers bar and lemonade, using the facilities, and filling up our water supply, we were about ready to head out again.  Barrett decided to rinse off her caked on red dirt feet and go for some fresh socks too.  Ry and I just gave our feet a little breather sans shoes. No blisters...yet. 

And alas, after about 50 minutes at Phantom, we are ready to start the trek out.

Continued...from the River to the Top!

And here we are, back at the Colorado River, this time crossing the Bright Angel bridge.  All the rest of the hike (the ascent up) is familiar, as this is the way we come back up on our Rim to Rim hikes each year.  But everything was new to Barrett since this was her first experience traversing the Canyon.  At this point, we were all still smiling and doing great.  

Just on the other side of the bridge is the infamous marker that has been the subject of a picture on each adventure thus far.

Shortly after crossing the river on the way up Bright Angel, we enter The Box.  Short for The Sandbox I believe, which is very appropriately named.  Lots of fun digging your way out of this part, especially since it's now late morning/mid day and the temperature is rising.  Still, it's a sign that the second half has truly begun.

Man, did I already say I love the river?  Someday I want to go on a weeklong river tour in one of these babies.  It looks so fun and reminds me of a couple super fun river rafting trips from years gone by.  I looked up the tours online and they are just a mere $2500/person.  Chump change, right?  Aaahhh, maybe someday.

Ok, so it's getting hot, and we take every opportunity we can to dip our heads in the creek and cool off. Sure, we smelled a little (or maybe a whole lot) like river water after that, but I'm sure the other aroma of sweat and dirt overpowered that stench.  It was so freezing cold and refreshing, though.  We loved it!

Perhaps her expression is telling of the fatigue?  But let's cut her a little's hot and hard at this point, and she's starting to question my promise of shade.  Oh ya, it's May not September and there will be no shade at all the rest of the way.  Sorry...

Another head dunking break on the quest for Indian Gardens.

Oh my goodness!  We are almost there!  Ryan took off about a half mile ago to get in some running on the flats, and I stayed back with B.  He said he'd meet up with us at Indian.

Breaking at Indian Garden in the shad, right next to the water spout.  It feels so good to sit for a bit and fuel up on some snacks.  Only 4.5 miles to go!  All uphill!  So close, but yet so far...

Just keep hiking, just keep hiking...

Barrett gave up the poles close to mile 14 or 15 and all of sudden she was a new woman.  She decided it was too awkward trying to coordinate that extra movement and the effort she saved from not using her arms (which are her least strong muscles) saved her.  She seriously rocked it coming out!

 Quick break to catch our breath and rest for a few.

 I think this was between the 3 and 1.5 mile water stations, but I am not certain.  Picture taking on the way up diminishes significantly...

We are soooooo almost there!  Only about another mile I think.

The light at the end of the tunnel (literally).  Now, we are really, really close!

High fives at the top.  Time for ice cream!

Yay!  We did it.  We took our time, took lots of breaks and tons of pictures, and so much enjoyed this great experience with Barrett.  What a cool memory for all of us.

Just the training that we did together getting ready for the hike was a special experience for me.  Barrett and I had a lot of of one on one time as we got up before the crack of dawn and hiked Pass Mountain, or took late night runs/hikes around Mesa.  She is an amazing young lady and I am proud to be her mama.

When we got home, B asked, "Mom, when we do the Rim to Rim in September, can I get a shirt?"  Sweet.  She's still in :)

And here are our Garmins for the official blog record.  Ry's watch says 18.65 miles, and mine says 18.62.  Officially, the journey from South Kaibab to the river to Phantom and then back to the river and up Bright Angel is only 17.5.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kickoff to Summer

The Update:


Barrett's team ending up winning the Juniors Division championship in a double header against Red Mountain.  The first game was tight (6-5) but then they schooled RM 11-5 in game 2.  It was a great night at the ball park, but then again, it's always good when you win :)  Barrett played well that night, and really had a great season overall.   She went 3/4 with a walk, 3 RBI's and stole home in the last inning of the first game to tie it up.

Grandma Rita:

My Grandma Rita peacefully passed away in her sleep on Friday, May 18th, 2012 after living a long, rich 94-year life.  Almost 95.  I think she just didn't want to face another Arizona summer to get her to August 16th.  And I'm sure she was hankering to get back to Harry.  They were pretty darn good together.  72 years married before he passed away last July.  And what a legacy they left: 4 children, 21 grandchildren, 57 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great granchildren.  That's pretty fantastic by all accounts. 

I am so blessed to have grown up with her (and all my grandparents) so close all my life.  I've always known them, always loved them, always had them involved in my life and the lives of my children.  We will miss her very much, but are so thankful to know that she's reunited with Grandpa Harry again after almost 10 months apart.  I can only imagine what a joyous reunion it was for them.

The week following Grandma's passing was a busy one.  I was grateful for the opportunity to prepare Grandma's funeral program and go through so many photo albums and scrapbooks scanning old pictures.  I love that my Grandma was an amazing historian and wrote detailed information on the back of just about every photo.  She always loved geneology and family history and temple work.  I think I get my inner "historian" from her.  The week culminated with a wonderful funeral service on Friday, May 25th at our ward building, and Bishop Uncle Jim conducted the service.  My two cousins, Jodi & Karrie, spoke and both were so funny.  Really, it was just perfect.  I loved hearing their thoughts and stories.  I told Jodi she stole the show and I meant it. My dad gave a good life history, and Aunt Katrina, Uncle Dale and Uncle Jim all shared some good thoughts too.  I sang with my cousins Loralee & Sierra Willis, SIL Shari & niece Randi, and Barrett, "I Need Thee Every Hour."  Melanie accompanied us on the piano.  Everything was beautiful.  The burial at the cemetery was pleasant and breezy, and the luncheon by the RS was also so nice.  I think that when someone has lived such a long, rich life, that gathering together with family to celebrate that life is truly a blessed occassion.  I loved seeing all my cousins again and catching up with them.  I have pics I need to post.

School Finale:

Yes, school has officially ended and we've made it through the first week of summer break.  Afton ended her year receiving the Citizenship Award at her awards ceremony, finishing with straight A's again, playing an awesome season of softball, dressing up as Martha Washington for her 5th grade wax museum, progressing nicely on the piano, and being one of four students in her school to be invited to take junior high math next year.  Yes, she's got the math gift.  She'll be going over to Stapley for 6th hour every day during her last year at Hale.  I'm not super sure I would have chosen to do that, but I think she's looking forward to the challenge.  And it will be good for her to get ahead and get 2 years of high school math under her belt before she actually gets to high school since I know she'll be taking 4 full credits of sports at MV and will need the extra room in her schedule.  Our Afty still cracks me up all the time.  She is so dang funny.  Even when I try not to laugh because I think she's gone over the top and is teetering on plain goofy, I just can't help myself.  She just makes me smile with all her impersonations and funny wit.  She spends lots of free time hanging with her best friend in the world, Sydney, and we love her so much.

Rowan also finished the year with straight A's, having one of the leading roles in her school's 2nd grade play (she was the spider in "Goin' Buggy), kicking some booty on the softball field, and being our social butterfly.  She's constantly playing with a friend.

Buddy Boy graduated from kindergarten and received the "Extra" award at his graduation for being Extra Smart, Extra Good and an Extra Delight to have in class.  We loved his teacher like no other and I secretly think that our little 6-year old man had a small crush on the beautiful and amazing 20-something year old Miss Etzen.  She was so good for Easton this year. 

Barrett is moving on to 8th grade and was awarded an Academic Honors Award for 4.0 GPA at the Stapley awards ceremony.  She too had a great school year and made so many new friends this year in junior high.  It seems like she blossomed so much.  What a fun year she has ahead of her being in student council!  She's already diving in, working at the school for a couple of hours every morning for the next two weeks, helping the incoming 7th graders in the Step Up to Stapley Program and prepping for next year's activities with her student council team.

Summer Plans:

We kicked off the summer vacations with no delay, spending Memorial Day weekend up at the cabin with my folks and Grandpa & Krissie.  The girls brought their friends, Hallie & Syd, and we spent tons of time playing and eating, as always.  Mike & Shari & family came up for the day on Saturday and played with us (sans Bryant who was busy partying it up after graduating from Highland High School - woot woot!)  I ran and lounged and cooked and swung and played tons of cards and just enjoyed everything.  It was such a nice start to our summer.

Barrett headed out last Tuesday morning to her Time to Blossom conference where she stayed all week at the Doubletree Hotel in San Tan.  She roomed with Hallie Bauer and Amy Garner and some other girl they didn't know and really had a fun, uplifting week.  It's basically like EFY, but just for girls.  It's always wierd having one of the family members away - kind of an odd void even though we all knew she's be back in a few days.  Ry and I got to go to the hotel Friday night to see their closing ceremonies and pick her up.  I cried of course.  It was pretty powerful watching those videos of the week and seeing all those girls out on the stage and around the conference center singing their closing song.  I hope she remembers those tender feelings always.  

Today Barrett started her Strength & Conditioning Camp at Mountain View.  She goes 4 days a week all month long and they train them hard.  I asked her how it went today and she said, "Intense."  It's a mixed class of boys and girls (but mostly boys), incoming 8th - 12th graders.  The MV coaches are teaching it and I know they will work them hard.

Meanwhile, Afton's summer is all about sports so far.  She started Mountain View Basketball Camp last week and goes every day for 4 weeks.  She's been swimming and practicing so hard at her evening softball clinics at Quail.  This week we are adding in 3 afternoons of Volleyball camp too.  Just for good measure :)  Yes, she is tired, but she is definitely having fun.

Row and Bud have just been doing a lot of playing and swimming and hanging with friends.  Their sports camps don't start until next week, so they've been able to veg a little. 

Ry took off today for scout camp up at Geronimo and won't be back until Saturday.  Barrett leaves again Thursday for Girls Camp at Lo Mia. I'm flying solo on the parent front.  Thank goodness for Grandma Cindy who can help with my little peeps on the work days. 

Me:  I'm just here, doing the usual, playing house and working.  I'm still running a lot and enjoying it, but I can feel the mornings warming up for sure.  As long as I'm out the door before 6:00, it's not too bad.  Soon, we'll be ramping up the mileage, going on some longer hikes, getting ready for the R2R in September and then flowing right into race season.  It will be here before we know it.  That reminds me - I still need to post our GC hike pics from Cinco de Mayo.  Tomorrow...yes, tomorrow I will post :)

Europe is right around the corner - two weeks from yesterday.  I still can't believe we are going and I can't believe it's almost here.  Truly, I am a little nervous about being across the globe from my kids, traveling via trains on a rail pass, being in a foreign land I've never experienced, and being away for 9 days.  But what an incredible opportunity we have to go.  I know it will be amazing! I can't wait to tour Interlaken, visit the real Matterhorn, hike Mont Blanc, paraglide over the French Alps, dine in an authentic Italian village, and experience it all.

Life is good at the Brown House.  We are happy and busy and staying active.  Just the way we like it.