Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 14: Zion!!!

May 31st 2016: Checkerboard Mesa – Zion Watchman Campground, 13,5 miles 

IMG_4268It’s a good thing we didn’t continue hiking yesterday evening. We wouldn’t have seen the beauty out of exhaustion. And boy it’s so beautiful here. We make our way (slowly cause there still ain’t no decent trail) around Checkerboard mesa and meet family Bighorn again. Ha! Abbey is right. You can’t see a thing from a car. People passing by, getting out of their car, taking pics at view points have no idea what the back of Checkerboard looks like, have no idea there’s a Bighorn family living there, that the East Virgin River is flowing way back there… Not a clue (but hey what do I know?)! We reach the street and walk to the East Rim Trailhead where we have burried a cache with water and coke and shower tokens. It feels like treasure hunting.

We cruise on the East rim and the miles fly by. It’s only at the end that the people, ya you might call it “masses”, start coming, puffing their way up, red headed like tomatoes. The scenery is beautiful (so ya I get it why people drag their asses up here)! O those red walls towering high over our heads.   Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 13: A slot canyon with thunderstorms above

May 30th 2016: Broad Hollow – Checkerboard Mesa / Zion National Park, no idea about the miles

grandcanyontozion494I sleep well and we get going at 5:30, hoping to make the most of the day before the heat comes. We always make the best miles in the morning. We continue to walk on sand for a mile or two till we have to leave broad hollow and go cross country to rejoin with the original Hayduke route. It takes us a while till we find the right route (there are so many sand tracks here that are on no fuckin map). But we find it and walk too far on it and eventually just go cross country to get down rock canyon. It’s a bit of a search to find a good way down to the East Virgin river  and holy moly I didn’t expect this beauty! We are gonna be wading through the river for the next 4 to 5 miles. Our own personal Narrows. Not meeting a single person the whole day (ya that’s heaven to me!)!

But then dark clouds come over and we hear the thunder rolling in the sky. We hope it will just pass by but o no the thunderclouds decide to just stay there. Both HQ and I think “damn”! A thunderstorm sure isn’t the safest weather condition to be hiking through a river in a canyon for miles. Flashfloods are nothing to fool around with. So we only eat a quick snack and pull through the river section without a break. Raw beauty with thunder above. It’s thrilling and scary and beautiful at the same time. Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 12: Hitching through cultures and following cougar tracks

May 29th 2016: Jacob Lake – hitch to Colorado City – Broad Hollow

grandcanyontozion484I sleep awful. Kids or whatever play basketball real loud till 12 at night and even back in the woods we wake up from it. Who the fuck plays basketball at midnight? (Alright I gotta be fair, I ain’t got nothing against basketball at midnight but I got something against people being loud.)

We get up early to get a hitch out of Jacob Lake. Most people drive south though. Still after 20 minutes a car pulls over. It’s a belgian!!! Mwuhahahaha such a small world. He’s from the same area I grew up in and so we speak the same dialect (in Flanders almost every town has its own dialect). That makes it much easier for me. After living in Germany for almost 14 years now I sometimes find it hard to speak Flemish. But it’s easier when I can speak the dialect I grew up with. He takes us till Fredonia and there the hitch is much tougher.

Not a soul pulls over. After 45 minutes (guess I’m not very patient) a white truck stops. Praise the lord. A Navajo man rolls down the window and says: “I can only take you to Pipe Springs. I’m looking for my 14year old daughter. She ran away last night.” Poor man. He’s been driving all through the area since 3 am this morning. 14 year olds. He tells us he’s been living here for 47 years already, didn’t go to study, learned from the land instead. “That’s a treasure,” I say and all three we know it is true in this crazy world we live in today. Learning from the land is the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and our children. He drops us of at Pipe Springs, looks for his kid at the gas station and drives off again. Searching. I tell him we will pray and we send him good energy while he disappears out of sight. Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 9: A zero on the North Rim

We go for a walk around the lodge and the shop, check the North Kaibab Trail from above and spend the rest of the afternoon in the general store. Drinking coffee and hot chocolate, eating chips, trying to catch the internet in the front left corner of the store  (important info :cP ) and to make up our minds.

What do we do next? Bushwhack down Swamp Point? The Arizona Trail till Jacob Lake? The wave? Buckskin Gulch? Too many options. It snows and hails but inside the store it’s warm.

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Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 8: Back up – North Kaibab Trail

May 25th 2016: East Tonto – Colorado River – Cottonwood Ranch – North Kaibab Trailhead, ca. 17 ml

IMG_3850I sleep well on the Tonto shelf. The winds sleeps too and so it’s quiet. Ah! The alarm rings at 4:30 am and by 5 am we get going. That’s the earliest we managed so far :cP We just have a Snickers for breakfast and head the last 400m /1200 ft down to the Colorado River. It’s so smooth and easy this trail.

We cross the bridge and have our decent breakfast on a bench near Phantom Ranch. HQ goes inside to fill up water and some kind people give him pancake and 2 pieces of bacon. Yesss!

In no time we hike the 7 miles till Cottonwood Ranch. It’s incredible how fast one can go when there’s a trail that isn’t steep up- or downhill- We have a 30 minute break and the next 7 miles are a lot slower and harder and it’s hot! BUT we have the magic umbrella and every fuckin dayhiker we meet has something to say about it. O folks common! Some go down in black jeans, no water, no cap, no sunscreen. How stupid can one be?  Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 7: Going down again – South Kaibab Trail

May 24th 2016: South Rim – South Kaibab Trail – East Tonto Trail, hardly any miles :c)

IMG_3739I have a hard time falling asleep. I worry  about the Hayduke Route down Swamp Point. No way my hips will be able to deal with that shit (awesome shit though).

We sleep till 5:30, get an early shower and enjoy a pancake breakfast at the lodge. We better start looking for Swamp Point alternatives. After reading through blogs and asking people we realize bushwhacking down the canyon might be the most stupid thing ever to do with my crappy hips. Not sure a helicopter would be able to get me out of there if my hip would dislocate. Maybe a few days on the Kaibab Plateau along the Arizona Trail. Ya. Might be an option. We still got 3 days to decide. First we need to get back to the North Rim :c)

By the time we pack our backpacks it’s time for lunch. We eat tortilla with hummus and beans and of course we have ice cream, and then we head to the South Kaibab Trailhead. We start hiking down at 12:45 pm and it is a stroll in the park. We could walk this trail blind (well kinda, better not though). The trail is so so easy and full of smooth switchbacks. What a difference to the Nankoweap Trail! It’s still crazy beautiful!

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Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 5 and 6: Up the Tanner Trail + A zero

Day 5: May 22nd 2016: 1 ml past Lava Canyon Rapid – Tanner Trail – Lipan Point, don’t know the miles

grandcanyontozion446We’re going up! No way I’m gonna hike the Escalante Route with these crazy stormy winds! Hiking up feels good and easy and smooth. Even if it’s all the way up from the river to the rim. When the wind ain’t blowing like crazy we open our umbrella and it allows us to keep hiking even when it’s getting hot.

The last part of the Tanner trail is frikkin steep and hard but after 7 hours of climbing we make it to Lipan Point. We hitch to the village, get a campspot at Mather Campground, eat pizza and refill our cup a thousand times. Damn right. BLISS.

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Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 4 : Grand Canyon Craziness

May 21st 2016: Kwagunt Rapids – Hitch across the Colorado River – Ford through the Little Colorado River – Beamer Trail till 1 mile past Lava Canyon Rapids – Ca. 10 ml

grandcanyontozion436Bushwhack shit from 5.30 till 8. Type B fun. This is frikkin crazy! I get cactus needles in my shoe and cry out of exhaustion (ya I know, after only 2,5 hours) and frustration. I want coffee and I want a fuckin trail! This kills any hips and any morale. Type B. Fuck type B right now.

In 2,5 hours we only hike (eh ya, we crawl and stumble might be a better way to put it) 1,5 miles.

The first beach we reach we stop. I’m not going on. I am so gonna put my thumb up and wait for a raft. The first one (the white shiny captain with bleached teeth) just passes by and waves. Cheers. Good karma to you!

But then Adam and his crew pass by and immediately pull over. They squeeze us in life jackets and off we go. They take us three miles till the Little Colorado River. We should have walked that? How the hell how? No way! Rafting is awesome and we are as much an adventure to these rafters as this  little boattrip is for us. The men keep telling me how brave I am. They should have seen me crying this morning. I feel more like a wimp but who cares. This is so frikkin cool. Type A is back.

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Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 3: All the way down along the Nankoweap Trail

May 20th 2016: Nankoweap TH – Nankoweap Creek – Colorado River- Kwagunt Rapids, ca. 13,5 ml

IMG_3506Crazy night. Windy as fuck. Tent comes down. We just “sleep” under the collapsed tent cause it’s just no use getting up. Leave around 6. Down down down. First along a red rock layer. Frikkin amazing! Next layer. Loose and slippery greenish yellowish stone. Concentrate Cat! Lots of wind. Loooooong way down and it’s getting hot!!!

6 hours of descending and we’re down at Nankoweap Creek. 1 hour lunchbreak. On along the creek. So so so damn beautiful! The walls rising up right next to us. But damn it’s hot!

And then. First view of the Colorado River. WOW!!!! Soon we meet the first rafting company. We talk for a bit. We drink a cold beer (you don’t say no to a cold drink in the canyon). Friendly captain Adam. Been a river guide for over 15 years. The river is carved in his face and streams like blood through his veins. In this heat we get drunk from one beer. Just right for bushwhacking along animal “trails” for 4 more miles. Being drunk helps. We laugh and our legs bleed.

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Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 2: Thornwhacking on the Ken Patrick Trail

May 19th 2016: Ken Patrick Trail – Point imperial – Nankoweap TH, ca. 10 ml

IMG_3302At 6:30 we get going and first thing I do is kiss the ground. In return I get a bloody knee. Not the last blood of the day ’cause as it turns out the Ken Patrick Trail is zero maintained and thorns are growing ALL OVER the trail. I leave enough blood on this trail to save another persons life with! Damn! Fallen trees, thorns,… This isn’t bushwhacking, this is thornwhacking!

By 10:15 we’ve whacked 6 miles and we have a very early lunch at Point Imperial because I’m so damn hungry. Fuck, I didn’t bring enough food! I freeze my ass off so we get going and by 2 pm we set up camp (that’ll be the last time that we set up camp so early, that’s for sure)  just a mile past the Nankoweap Trailhead. Better not to overdo it the first couple days. I sleep and rest and enjoy the view. And I worry about the 5600 ft/ 1700 meters of downhill tomorrow. Will my hips play along?

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