Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day Two in the Grand Canyon –Palisades to the Little Colorado

Day two was a day hike to the Little Colorado and back again.   Despite the 12 miles of strenuous hiking, it was an  easy day because we didn’t have packs.  What a difference that makes.  Although my muscles were quite sore from the descent into the canyon the day before, it only took a short time of hiking before I had warmed up and was feeling pretty good.

View from the Campsite in the Morning.  Notice the Rain Clouds

Friday’s weather prediction was 30% chance of rain during the day and 10% chance in the evening.  It started raining pretty early into our hike making it 100% chance of rain.  I was able to wear my Marmot rain pants for the first time and really like them because they zip all the way up the pant legs from the top and bottom making it really easy to put on over boots.  I didn’t however secure the Velcro very well and was soon losing my pants and had to stop to rezip the sides and securely fasten the Velcro.

We stayed on the Beamer trail, crossed a ridge of green Kaibab shale to get to the junction of the Little Colorado.   John tried explaining to me the color of the Little Colorado and how it was different than the Colorado River. I had no idea the Little Colorado would as different but as he explained it.   It was beautiful.  Serene. Like a tropical paradise.  According to a paper edited by David L. Alles “The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River”,   the Little Colorado comes from Sipapu, a travertine spring where the Hopi Indians believe man passed through a succession of worlds emerging from the earth.  The bright blue turquoise color is a result of bleaching of bottom sediments by the rivers minerals but the entire river isn't that way.  Matter of fact, much of the Little Colorado is chocolaty brown.  As I walked around the Little Colorado I saw mineral buildup underneath the water surface and salt lining the edges of the sand. 

Little Colorado meets the Colorado River

Me in front of Little Colorado

Little Colorado

We wandered a little further up the river in search of the Beamer cabin.  Back in the 1890 Ben Beamer, a miner, added to an prehistoric ruin to create his own shelter. Inside you could see where he cooked and had his bed. In 1989 the park service did restoration and stabilization work on the cabin so that I and future visitors could enjoy it.   I guess there are pictographs to the right of the cabin but not knowing about those until now, I didn’t know to look for them. The floor appeared to be have frequent visitors of mice as there were thousands of droppings on the inside.
John in Beamer Cabin

Michele and John scout out Beamer Cabin

The hike back to the camp site was primarily downhill and my IT band on my right leg started letting its presence be known.  Back in March I had IT issues with my left leg and have felt twinges off and on since being “healed”.  I was surprised that the right leg was causing me issues.  Compensation for favoring my right ankle perhaps?  Speaking of my ankle,  it gets a gold star with sparklers at the end of each point.  It fared wonderfully.   Anyways, I had a bandana that I tied above my knee to minimize the IT band movement. 

While hiking, there is a lot of time with my own thoughts; as on a typical day, my thoughts gravitate towards running.    On Wednesday before I left I found out that Boston for 2010 would be selling out in the next week.  I couldn’t verify that information on the Boston marathon website but I trust Coach Dean would send out the email only if it were true.  This means that I’m looking at 2011 to run Boston.   There is relief in knowing that I now have a year to qualify but I thought that last year too.  I had a crazy thought maybe I should run Tucson as a full marathon instead of a half and go for it even though my longest run for the last 6 weeks has been 12 miles.  Can I get fit enough to qualify 4 weeks?  Yes, I know I could finish a marathon but my goal is to qualify, not just run a marathon.  That puts me to PF Changs Phoenix marathon in January or even the IMS marathon in February out in Surprise, Arizona.  With my IT band aching on the hike, naturally I started wondering the effects of the IT band and my training.   Can I even run and train for a marathon?  Should I settle on a gentler distance like the half marathon?  Get faster at the 10K?  Basically, should I admit to myself that the marathon isn’t my distance and give up my hopes up qualifying for Boston?  John said that I have a low tear threshold and he’s right.  As I write about this possibility, the tears are surfacing.  I don’t know what the answer is yet.

Dinner consisted of another gourmet instant add water meal precluded with a hot cup of decaf tea.  Tea is a staple while backpacking and next time I’m going to make sure that John brings a little bowl so we can each have our own mug for tea and I’ll bring more flavors of tea too.  Next time I also want to bring a bigger variety of food.  Scott and Michele had all kinds of food and I had food envy.  At least I brought dried peas that they really liked and I was able to share.

It was a little colder on Friday night as we climbed into our sleeping bags around 6:30pm.  Yes, the time to bed is getting earlier.  Once the sun goes down, there isn’t much to do.  I almost brought cards but didn’t want the extra weight but next time I’ll bring cards too.  

More Grand Canyon Pictures

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