Zen On Dirt

Time on the Kaibab

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Today is Thursday, which means that we’ve been up on the Kaibab Plateau for two weeks now. Which to me, seems completely crazy. I talked to my mom about a week ago to firm up plans about watching their dogs in Boulder in late June. She was on the bus to the airport and wanted to tell me about the dog training exercises I needed to do with Sparkles when I got there.

“Just tell me when you get back from this trip,” I said.

“I’m not coming back before you show up, this is my last chance to tell you,” she replied. “Dad leaves next Thursday, you need to negotiate with your brother on when you show up. ”

I did a quick double take at the calendar. How did it get to be June 10th already?

When we got back from our Kaibab Monstercross bikepack, we had the chance to rest the legs for a little bit. Which has been good, because we’ve definitely been pushing the limits between solid periods of rest.

And we were tired.

The Scamp was out of power (and Tour Divide was starting, so Scott needed to be at his computer), so we sucked it up and took it over to the RV park just down the road from Jacob Lake. We plugged it (and our spare big battery, and our phones, and computers, and small batteries) in at 9am and let everything charge for 25 hours. For $36. We like to say how our utility bill consists of propane, of which we go through about $10 per month, and this added bill was the kick in the ass we needed to decide that we really needed more solar. We’ve paid for four nights of camping since leaving Tucson. This was the first time that it was due to power needs. That’s pretty good.


Camp grounds and RV parks are always interesting experiences, and we had a lesbian couple in an Airstream as neighbors on one side. They’d spent the last 10 years caring for one of their mothers, who’d just passed away at 100, and now they were going to hit the road, on their way to the Delores River to go flyfishing.

Our other neighbors were a pair of older Texans in a GIANT RV. They bickered a lot. And were really pissed off by the fact that there weren’t any pull-thru sites at the park and that they had to back their behemoth of a trailer into a small space. They only ran into the picnic table once in the process…

After 25 hours, we were happy to move back into the woods. Into the quiet where our neighbors consist of a herd of deer, countless robins, a few pigmy nuthatches, and some woodpeckers. It’s the type of place where you can take fully nekkid solar showers and not worry about anyone coming by.


The closest and easiest way to recreate from our campsite was to ride the AZT. We opted for north for 10 miles, then back on roads. It really is beautiful trail up there.


The north rim of the Grand Canyon is about 40 miles down the road. Normally, I’d feel bad about driving 80 miles to recreate, but the north rim is so inaccessible from anywhere, 40 miles really isn’t that bad. And we’re as close as we can get without losing cell reception.

We spied a trail on the map that looked like it paralleled the rim of the canyon from Point Imperial towards the Nankoweep trail.


We ended up bushwacking out to a little point to see the view, leading to a much more adventuresome day than we’d first anticipated.


We saw all of 4 people in the 10 miles. If you think National Parks are too crowded, you’re doing it wrong.


The next day, itching for a run, I returned to the main corridor trail while Scott went on a bike adventure that only Scott could appreciate.

I know that I’ve been on this trail twice before, that it’s the trail that everyone hikes, but it’s so damn beautiful, I really don’t care that there’s nothing ‘exploratory’ about it. And anyhow, I’ve got a running idea in my head that’s going to require a lot of vert later this summer, and there’s no better place than the North Kaibab trail to log some serious down then up.


Canyon running is still a little unnerving for me. With climbing mountains, if you get tired, home is generally in the downhill direction. With the canyon…once you go in, you have to get yourself out, and as the rim got farther and farther away, I got more and more nervous. Which is ridiculous, because I knew that barring catastrophe, I could get myself out.


I did. It was a lovely 11 mile run, and I even treated myself to a $1.50, 6-minute shower in the campground.


I love that I have the adaptation to do a run like this in the Canyon leaving late afternoon and still make it home by dark without being completely wrecked.


I was a little sore the next day, but it was to be the coolest day of the week, and Scott and I wanted to do some stuff down low. Plus, we needed groceries in Kanab 36 miles away, so we figured we’d make a day of it.

We started with a 20 mile ride combining 10 miles of John Schilling track with the last 10 miles of the AZT, right down to the UT border.


Such happy memories there.


From there, we went two miles down the road to the Wire Pass Trailhead. We’d found a 10 mile loop that would have spent 6 miles in two different slot canyons, and then a four mile connector on the road, but we weren’t sure if it was all doable without actual skillz. So we didn’t set up a bike shuttle for the last four miles of road. Lazy, we are.


The size differences between the male and female is fascinating!

The canyons were spectacular, and I only got hung up on one little pour over. Then a trio of kids, youngest being around 10, scampered down it, and I decided that I really needed to get my big-girl pants on.


I’m learning. Step by little step.


We need to spend more time in places like these.


With the day threatening to end, we hustled out of there and faced the four miles of dirt road to get back to the car. We should have set up the bike shuttle. It was painful.


Still, we made it to Kanab by 9:15, ate at Wendy’s, which was the quickest and easiest place to get food, and got groceries just as they were announcing over the intercom that the grocery store was closing.

Then we crossed back into AZ, gained our hour back (AZ doesn’t do daylight savings), and made it to bed at a semi-reasonable time. I was pooped.

The next day, I made it out for a sub-4 mile ride to check out the neighborhood fire lookout, where I could see Zion, Bryce, Navajo Mountain, and the Coyote Buttes area where we’d played the day before. It’s a big world out there…


With one more day before obligations to the north, we went back to the Canyon for a little hike. The hike was really just an excuse to watch the sunset from the lodge while eating pizza and sipping whiskey, saying goodbye to the canyon that had dominated much of my spring, either in thought or in adventure.


Now, northward. Then eastward. To the mountains.


No. Not really. Do I ever?


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