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Day 43 - Final Steps

I walked 54461 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 28 miles today.
I'm Done!
I reached Utah at 2pm today and PapaBear was waiting to take me to Phoenix - we're on our way now.
I overdid it the past few days and my legs really hurt, but nothing serious. The actual hiking today was fairly easy and the painted desert at the end was beautiful.
If someone from troop 479 reads this, please tell Benjamin M. to take a look.
This pic is of me at the end of the trail holding a solid silver 1961 quarter that Benjamin and his dad gave me for my trip. They said it might come in handy for trading since it is silver. I carried it the whole way and it often reminded me of everyone back home that I would see soon. It will forever remain one of my favorite things I've collected over the years. It's extra special because it was made the year I was born.

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Posted: 18:10 04-28-2012 854
Day 42 - Smelling the Barn

I walked 56314 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 28 miles today.
PapaBear drove me to where I hitched a ride. I walked back up to the trail and hiked it Jacob Lake. Now I just need to do 28 more miles tomorrow. Kind of like the farm animals getting close to home and getting anxious to finish up.
I saw a small herd of 8 or 9 deer. Other than that, most of the day was spent walking through this big burned out area.
It was fun to top and have lunch at a trailhead with PapaBear, then off hiking through the afternoon.

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Posted: 18:09 04-28-2012 853
Day 41 - Zero

With the expected bad weather and my legs being so worn out, I decided to take one last rest day here in Jacob Lake. I got dressed and filled water to do the 24 miles I need to backfill but walking around the parking lot didn't feel good so I wimped out. I did walk a mile to a lookout tower for a cell signal but no t-mobile yet again. So, sorry for the flurry of posts all at once.
Hey, I ate lunch and stepped outside and someome hollered at me. It was 'Happy Feet' nearly done with the trail. I bought him lunch and swapped stories. He's heading back down the trail and will finish tomorrow and get picked up on Saturday.
PapaBear is around here because Happy Feet saw him at a trailhead, but I've not run into him yet. Hopefully, he'll show up at the hotel today. I know he was going by my plan which has changed daily, if not hourly.
I feel bad about changing things, but Hey, it all works out.

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Posted: 21:18 04-26-2012 851
Day 40 - Out of the Canyon

I walked 44426 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 27 miles today.
After a very warm night down in the canyon, I hiked out the north rim. Simply spectacular scenery the entire way. The trail was terrific and the hike went quickly even though my left leg is nearly shot.
On the north Kaibab, there is usually still snow this time of year. There's less this year, so I took off on the trail - immediately hitting some drifts. To get water, I dropped off the trail to the road where there was a small lake. That's when Marshal, the biker, caught up to me so it was fortunate I did that bit of road walk. I rejoined the trail at the Natl Park entry station, heading east back into the forest. Immediately, I hit more snow and saw only 1 set of footprints through it. I followed for almost 3 miles over mostly clear ground but some knee-plus deep drifts.
If it was sunny weather, I would have continued but it was sprinkling all day, temp dropping, and forecast of fairly severe storm coming. With no GPS, I knew I couldn't follow the trail the next day if it snowed. Being a wimp and opting for safety, I bailed off the trail and walked 10 miles down some forest roads to the main Hwy 67. I walked it for a few miles until a couple guys doing work on the rim stopped and gave me a ride to Jacob Lake. They were 2 Navajo men heading home to NM and were great to stop and help a stranger. Thanks, guys!
So, when I got to Jacob Lake, I phoned Marshal from the lobby, got a burger dinner, and then a great bed and shower.
All in all, not a bad day even though I will not hike the whole trail due to snow. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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Posted: 21:11 04-26-2012 849
Day 39 - Into the Canyon

I walked 36103 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 14 miles today.
So many things keep coming together and working out on this trip, it's amazing. I got to the Back Country office for a permit so I could camp in the canyon. Everyone I met said I 'might' get one for the next day, but no way for today. A bunch of people didn't show up to get their permits so I DID get one. Not only that, it was for Cottonwood Camp up the north side so it shaved 1200 feet off the next day's climb.
There was a campsite perfect for me.
I got plenty of water - which I didn't have to filter.
I got to rinse off my shirt.
The big rattlesnake some people startled right by my site didn't bite me.
It doesn't take much to make a hiker happy. :-)
The Grand Canyon is much more than you see from the paved paths on the South Rim. An astounding amount of work has gone into the trails and structure. I did finally discover where all the dust from our vacuum cleaner bags goes - they pour it on the South Kaibab trail to make it soft for the mule trains.
This is me on the bridge at the bottom of the canyon. I rocked going down, and then it was HOT at the bottom. I have a parcel of pics I'll post in a bit.

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Posted: 21:03 04-26-2012 846
Got My Permit

I got my permit for today at Cottonwood so I have a 14 mile hike with a late start. It will probably be the hottest day of hiking down in the canyon. Since I'm hiking more than 10 miles, I had to fill out a waiver with emergency info. I guess a bunch of folks have keeled over in recent years - don't want to be a statistic.
So, I'm waiting for the Disney shuttle bus back to the campground to wash up, pack up, buy some food, and get into the canyon. I have all day so I plan to take it nice and easy.

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Posted: 9:45 04-24-2012 845
A Few Pics

General Springs snow

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Posted: 8:37 04-24-2012 844
Day 38 - the GC

I walked 70000 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 35 miles today.
Made it to the South Kaibab trailhead by 6:00 this evening. That is the starting down point for the Grand Canyon. Then I took a free shuttle back to Grand Canyon Village to figure out camping or hotel. The silly GC Visitor Center closes at 5pm - how dumb, so no help there. Finally found Mather campground which is just $6/nite for a tent - cool!
I met two guys, each doing their own bicycle tour around the country - one has been going 11 months, the other 13. Makes my 6 weeks seem paltry.
Today's hike wasn't too excitin, but I did see my first antelope and a bunch of elk. Sprinted (well hobbled) into Tusayan and got a chicken sandwich at McD's. Met a couple cool NPS employees at the park entrance and they said, 'Hey, anyone ever tell you that you look like...'
I said, 'Yep, all the time.'
Met a guy from Michigan, a Bulgarian couple living in Chicao, and a couple from Ontario. I'm getting better at starting conversations with strangers, obviously. :-)
Tomorrow hopefully sees me getting a permit to hike the canyon or else I wait here a day.

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Posted: 8:14 04-24-2012 842
First View of Canyon

View from the top of the GrandView lookout tower! I climbed to the top but the trapdoor is locked, so it's not QUITE the top.
There's been a swarm of helicoptors heading east, maybe tours or maybe something more serious. I'm heading to Grand Canyon Village now and should get there this evening.

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Posted: 11:31 04-23-2012 841
Day 37 - Day of Blessings

I walked 80000 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 40 miles today.
I found out my pedometer stops counting at 65000 steps in a day so I have to estimate for today.
I started my day feeling great, but bummed that my phone wasn't working. With some water left from yesterday, I started at 6:30. By a bit after 9, I reached my cached water which was 10 miles away. Some people cache water and then leave the empty jug. Seems wrong to me, so I packed mine out.
There was no water available all day until I reached Russell Tank 40 miles from my start point! I can't believe I did 40 miles. I got a couple blisters and my legs are very worn out, but I should be good to go tomorrow. I went this far because I decided to reach the Grand Canyon in 3 days from Flagstaff last night when I saw how far along I was. Tomorrow will be a 31 mile day to make it happen.
While hiking, I was hoping for a small cloud to move under the sunbso I could get some shade - it was HOT today. Well, the cloud grew into a thunderstorm but I only got a little wet.
At Russel Tank, there's actually a trailhead with a very clean, large toilet. Guess where I'm sleeping tonight? It's warm, flat, dry, and no critters. Practically a free hotel.
The trail data said Russell Tank is muddy so I was concerned about getting water. But, it is just fine. The water jug I packed out came in handy to scoop water.
It was a long day of challenges that turned one by one into blessings. I even got to wash up in the pond.

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Posted: 11:18 04-23-2012 840
Day 36 - Unplanned Long Day

I walked 63784 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 30 miles today.
Taking the higher trail, I passed through some stands of aspen. Once I got to Alfa Fia tank for water, the trail was a gradual downhill for the rest of the day - so I just kept walking. I made it to mile 620 which is nowhere.
Whoever laid out this section of trail really felt it was important to experience the forest. About 4 miles meandered all over similar to switchbacks, but with virtually no elevation change. Weird!
I've left my stove behind and will eat only cold food for the rest of the hike, except when I hit a restaurant. Just trying to lighten my pack - lots of candy bars, poptarts, and peanut butter and honey on crackers.

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Posted: 11:17 04-23-2012 839

I was getting water from Alfa Fia tank at mile 603 north of Flagstaff. It's a beautiful pond with great water and possibly the only good water for about 50 miles.
As I reached out with my 1quart zip-loc to scoop up some h2o, PLUNK went my cellphone from my shirt pocket into the pond. It took me less than 3 seconds to get it out, but that was long enough. I dried it but could not power it off. I opened it and set it in the sun.
Still not able to turn it off and other buttons doing crazy things, I put it in a mesh pocket and kept hiking figuring all was lost. At night, the screen was a weird green color and nothing worked. But, this morning, it was black. I decided to wait until this afternoon to try it, plugged in my solar charger from Northern Star Council and gave it a shot. BAZINGA! It works. Whew! Now I can take pics and blog again.

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Posted: 11:13 04-23-2012 838
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