The Arizona Trail Day 68: Incredibly Naughty

Friday, May 24, 2013 – 11.3 km

I was only minutes from leaving the campground this morning when Pops C arrived. He told me that he was planning to hike rim-to-rim without getting a permit, starting tomorrow and arriving the day afterwards, and offered to buy me dinner on the North Rim. Sounds good to me! (Cake that has fallen in the dirt also sounds good to me.) I ended up leaving later than I would have liked because of the time spent talking, but figured that I was now an Experienced Desert Hiker who would have no problems tolerating the midday heat of the Grand Canyon. If another Canadian ever comes up to you and starts spouting that kind of nonsense, give them a whack in the face. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

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The canyon was amazing of course, and the views were even better from within. I saw dozens of day hikers between the trailhead and Cedar Ridge, where I encountered a bold ground squirrel that tried to tear open the mesh pocket of my pack to access the granola bar inside. I tried to shoo it away, then prodded it with the handle of my hiking pole. The ground squirrel was unfazed. I was astounded!!! Never have I encountered a naughtier ground squirrel. It wouldn’t give up until I lifted my pack off the ground, then it went and sprawled out in a little patch of shade. HEY GROUND SQUIRREL, maybe you wouldn’t have to starfish in the shade if you hadn’t fattened yourself up with all that human food, I thought as I sat down in the shade, eating Nutella straight from the jar.

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So cute but so naughty.
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I walked from Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point with two day hikers who were very sociable, plus remembering their names was easy since both started with the same letter (a memorable name: always good logic for liking someone). They said that they admired me for hiking the AZT; I admired them for running marathons when I would wander off in search of milkshakes after two blocks. After we separated, them heading back to the trailhead and me continuing down the South Kaibab, the trail became almost deserted and wickedly hot. I started sweating. I grimly put up my umbrella, cursing my earlier hubris, and didn’t lower it until I reached the Black Bridge and felt reassured by my close proximity to water.

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The Black Bridge

The trail followed the Colorado River for a short distance before turning to run alongside Bright Angel Creek. Most of the campsites in Bright Angel Campground were already occupied. I chose a free spot at random, discovered that the ground was like cement and placed rocks on my guylines rather than using tent stakes. After dumping my food and toiletries into an ammo box provided to protect one’s supplies from naughty ground squirrels, I went for a long-awaited cooling off. Two other women had stripped down to swim in the creek, but too many people were around for me to feel comfortable with that, so I just stuck my feet in. The water wasn’t cold enough to cool me, plus the piddling creek failed to hold my interest with the mighty Colorado River so close.

Following a faint trail beside the creek, I found a small beach beside the Colorado with a patch of clear water hemmed in by rapids. For the rest of the afternoon I sat there, reading about John Wesley Powell’s exploration of the Grand Canyon. The wind picked up in the meantime, and when I got back to my campsite, a large rock was sitting inside my tent. A woman in one of the neighbouring sites informed me that she had placed it there because the wind had dislodged my tent and blown it halfway across the site. Oops…

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