The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Arizona Dream

I thought the day would never come when Dale and I planned the trip to Arizona back in early March for a slot canyon adventure with some MTB riding thrown in. But I boarded the plane on Friday morning April 22 early, ready for as much fun as I could handle. Dale purchased a truck in Phoenix, for his business, that we would be driving back home to Minnesota. Our friend Chris also joined in for some fun and was waiting at the airport from an earlier flight that moring. Long story short, we picked up the truck, then bikes, assembled them at REI parking lot, bought maps, fuel,and other goodies at REI, ate giant burrito then headed for MTB trails near Fountain Hills. I have never been to Arizona, ridden in the desert,or seen a saguaro cactus in person so the riding was a bit surreal. The temp was around 90 and the massive burrito was boiling in my guts but I still had a great time. After the ride we headed for Sedona. We got there really late and had trouble finding a spot to camp. We were on a ghetto budget and would not be staying at one of the ritzy over priced hotels in the area. Around 1am we found a parking lot that we could stay at without hassle from the po-po. I know because I asked one of them as we were driving through town for the 2nd 3rd or 10th time. In the morning we awoke to a beautiful canyon with a creek. Dale got up really early and was gone so Chris and I went for a hike of our own down to the creek. It was very quiet and peasefull, unlike the same area in about five hours. After breakfast we headed out for a ride. Not far into the ride Chris jammed his knee into a Yucca plant and the spine broke off and would not come out. I felt like it was my fault, it happend when he was taking my picture with my camera. We rode into town in search of the urgent care. After finding it we left Chris in the care of a wonderfull blind incompetent doctor. What did we care?we had to get our ass to the Sedona MTB festival. This thing was a fucking joke and a total flop. When we got to the abandoned lot next to a busy highway all we got was alot of stares from the snobby pricks under the TWO tents. Yes thats right two whole tents filled with snobs for this awesome festival. While we waited for a ride to materialize we talked to some crazy old geezer about the vortexes in the area. We both had to hold back the laughing as we were fed this steaming crock of shit. Soon the ride started, we endured the usual "I'm from a mountain state, your a flatlander, do you even have trails there" bullshit that seens common whenever I go out west. The ride was pretty good as I rode off the front to prove us flatlanders know how to ride. After the ride it was time to meet up with Chris. I was so bumbed I didn't have the time to look for a Sedona MTB festival jersey 2011 as I'm sure this is really going to take off and I want to prove I was part of it the first year. We got the hell out of Dodge after downing some caffiene while admiring the traffic jam down the main street.
Next was the Grand Canyon. It only took 36 years for me to see it and I was truly amazed. We arrived an hour or so before dark and wanted to ride to the rim from our campsite. Chris's knee was in bad shape now and prevented him from walking and riding. Dale informed Chris that he would be removing the spine from his knee after Dale and I returned from the rim and it would be best if he was drunk by then. Dale and I spent some time taking pictures and checking things out at the rim. When we returned Chris was ready, 9 beers down and 2 to go. He didn't get it out but enjoyed using his snake bite kit, latex gloves, knife, and whatever else he found in the first aid kit.
The next morning the plan was to ride out to the South Kaibab Trailhead and hike as far down the trail as posible with the ultimate goal to make it to the Colorado and back. Dale and I figured Chris would not be able to make it far,but he did very well on the short ride and seemed to be getting around quite well. At the trailhead we met a guy who thought we would have no problem making our goal to the bottom and back. He would be the only one to encourage our plan. Numerous signs and other hikers warned us of the danger of such a feat. None of these people or signs know us or what we are capable of. We were cooling our feet in the river about three hours later. We decided to take a different route back to check out Phantom Ranch and hike out on the Bright Angel Trail. From Phantom Ranch we each sent a post card to our families and relaxed in the lodge built in 1928. On our hike out we passed through the campground and wished we were staying the night, partly out of fatigue but mostly because it was such a cool place. Hiking out was about 2 miles longer than the way down and the terrain was very different. The Kaibab was dry and had little plant life while Bright Angel was lush and green, we even saw a rattle snake near Indian Garden (another camping area). We made it to the rim at 6:30 pm, 8 hours and 50 minutes to complete the 16-17 mile hike.








The next day was a much needed rest day with most of it spent driving the the next adventure. We passed through Page AZ on our way to meet my good friend Tom F at the Paria Canyon Trailhead. Our plan for the following day was to shuttle a car and ourselves to Wire Pass where we would then hit Buckskin Gulch, camp a couple nights and hike back up the Paria to our waitng truck. Buckskin Gulch was the whole reason the trip came together. It's claimed to be the longest slot canyon in the world at 20 + - miles and known as one of the top ten backpack trips. It truly lived up to all the hype others have created. It had sections of waste deep standing water, quicksand, canyon walls 300 feet high and as narrow as 6 feet, wide sections with an oasis of trees and long green grass, and boulder jams 30 feet high. The hike was amazing, so much so that it was hard to take it all in (thank god for the camera). At roughly mile 7 we climbed out the Middle Route to reveal the scoured landscape above, rough red rock and sand as far as you can see. A few hours later we would arrive at camp exhausted and completely blown away by the beauty and magnitude of the canyon. Our camp was near the confuence of Buckskin and Paria, walled in by 300 foot cliffs but elevated about 30 feet above the canyon floor. It was a high sandbar complete with trees and bright green grass.


the next day the plan was to go down the Paria for a day hike and return to camp another night. The Paria had calf deep water a little warmer than freezing . We decided to cancel the day trip and break camp. We still had to endure a good hour plus walking up steam in the frigid water. This part sucked I could not feel my feet but kept moving until the canyon was shallow enough for the sun light to reach a sand bar on the canyon floor. We stopped for a long time to soak up the warmth until feeling returned to our feet. Onward we marched, happy that the river was warmer but sad that each step brought us closer to the end of this amazing place.


The rest of the trip was more driving than fun, but we manged to have fine mexican meal with Tom before we headed for home and Tom headed to Vegas to meet his wife. On the way home we stopped to see the Four Corners and buy some Navajo souvenirs. We also stopped in Durango for one last ride where Dale made the realization that he did not suck at riding and that the bike he just bought was shipped one size too big. Special Thanks to Dale, Chris, and Tom for accompanying me on an awesome adventure. Extra special thanks to Dale for buying all the diesel for the truck.








The Middle Route










Four Corners












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