Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ten Years of Day Hiking

It's cold here right now--13 degrees outside!  The NWS says Flagstaff is 10 and it looks like it's one below at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Mighty chilly.  There was definitely no campfire last night--a cold north wind made the low temps even less user-friendly.  Tomorrow morning it's supposed to be even colder. Without any heat in the house overnight, our morning temp was 57.  Gotta love a straw house.

OK, what about the day hiking thing?  We came back in early October from our first summer of volunteering for the Forest Service up in Dixie..  That's what Utahans call the far southern part of their state.  We didn't know what to do with ourselves. We didn't even take the boards off the windows until early December.  Marsha and Phyllis came over one night and gave us a "talking to."  Forever thereafter we've called them The Two Wise Women.  Anyway, we took the boards off the windows and saw the light.  I wanted to buy the much-despised Red Rock Pass on December 7th, a "Day of Infamy" but circumstances made us buy and begin to use it the day before--December 6th.

Little did we know those first tentative steps would lead to many hundreds of miles of smiles spread out across the far flung horizons of not only Arizona but lots of out states as well.  Being proud to wear the OCD Badge of Honor, we didn't juist put a toe into day hiking--we went all out and became quite compulsive about the whole thing. 

We started out hiking around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte day after day after day.  The objective was to use a known hike to se could improve our hiking pace as well as tinker with our gear each day to make our personal packs better each time.  By the end of a week, we pretty much had the gear thing figured out.  One of the most fun vignettes of those very early days was when we realized we needed hiking sticks.  We thought that ski poles would work just fine.  (They don't.)  Well, were are you going to find ski poles in early December in the Village of Oak Creek?  It was a bright and sunny Saturday and as we round the backside of Courthouse, I looked off at the shimmering rooftops of The Village and pronounced to Susun, "Our ski poles are over there and we will find them today."  We jumped in the Samurai at the parking lot and zoomed off into the fancy homes of The Village looking for yard sale signs.  We jumped out at the first sale and I walked around looking for ski poles.  There were none.  So, I went to the woman collecting cash and blurted out, "Where did you put the ski poles?"  She looked aghast and chagrined and said, "Oh, gee, I'm sorry, I didn't put them out--they are right here."  So for a couple of bucks, we had our first of many hiking sticks.  Later, we met the same woman on the trail and became friends.  We even attended their Christmas Party that year.  The serendipity of getting those hiking sticks on such a lark kind of set the tone for the next ten years of our day hiking careers.  Whenever we've needed anything at all relating to day hiking, it has shown up as if right on cue.

We day hiked 45 consecutive days in our first "streak."  That streak was stopped on the way to the 46th hike when the fuel pump blew out on the Samurai.  Susun hiked to the top of Bear Mountain on her 55th birthday in 2002.  We hiked all over the Red Rock Country trail system, missing only a few "hikable" days that spring.  Our goal was to get in shape to day hike the Grand Canyon.  In April we went up and camped for a week in the forest outside Tusayan, going in each day to hike the upper portion of many of the Canyon trails.  We did a day hike down to Indian Gardens and enjoyed hot showers each afternoon on the South Rim. 

We had a 125 consecutive day streak going in the summer of 2002.  We were in Red Bluff, California, in September when that streak was busted.  We received a call that our straw house had been flooded so we drove straight through the night to get here the next morning.  We have another 125 streak going in 2003.  Susun kind of dropped out of the "streak" thing in 2004 but I kept slogging away.  I got a streak rolling that created at 400 straight days before I just couldn't muster up the mentality to keep it going any farther.  In the spring of 2005, I taught in community college class called Day Hiking for The Elderly.  As the years have ticked by, we have enjoyed many fine day hikes.  We've mellowed considerably from those obsessive compulsive daze.  For us now, day hiking is "second nature."  We always keep boots, pack, sticks, and all the rest of the day hiker paraphernalia within easy reach.  We can jump up and be ready to go day hiking a the drop of a floppy hiking hat.

It sure was fun to enjoy all the flashbacks of hiking around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Sunday.  There was a genuine flood of memories cascading us back in time with each step forward on that lovely and largely frozen stroll.  We sure hope and pray that we will be able to continue day hiking forever.  Speaking of which, Susun will be hiking today with Phyllis & Friends at the Cockscomb near Sedona.  The tradition continues.  Carry it on, Sweetie!

Me?  Well, today is the weekly shooting sports day.  Target shooting with a pistol definitely isn't as rigorous as day hiking but it sure is fun.

May your days be filled with Many Cheers & Happy Trails Forever!  jp


1 comment:

siegfried said...

prejudAm going "day hiking" tomorrow, Friday. Will do 2 of a series of "stairway walks" in San Francisco. They include steps that continue streets that are too steep for vechicles. I've done several of these which cover parts of the City that are of historic or architectural interest and/or have great views. I'll think of you two pushing up the trail from Indian Gardens as I struggle up the steep flights of stairs.

I've sent you two a DVD that might be of interest, if you don't have it all ready. I hope that the music on it will appeal to Susun and the scenes to both of you.
Since I don't have your Rimrock address, it was sent to Idaho Falls. I guess they will forward it.

Dave E.