The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 1

To The Falls and Back Again

Book 1: Chapter 1

The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.

I have returned from an arduous trek – A quest to test the limits of my spirit and my physical being – and I was joined by 4 incredible men – together united by one common goal: To have a kick-ass EPIC adventure and not die. #truestory

It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

We began as 5 individuals (subset of a larger group): Captain Amazing, Mr. Julie McCoy, me, Mr. Luge,  and Mr. Bobby (pictured below).

However, as our journey unfolded, we became a family united in comradery, jokes, laughter, daring feats of strength, and a will to make it back to the top of the Canyon with our gear, without the assistance of mules.

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I’ll go ahead and treat some of our camp antics like Vegas…what was said and heard at camp, stays at camp. I believe I’ve earned a reputation – which I’m more than okay with because I earned it.

But I have a feeling that my little Vegas rule is not going to hold up, and what was said and heard at camp will come back up and out every time we are together! I might as well throw out the Vegas rule and just spill. #ohohoh

Pre-saga: Planning

Unlike Frodo Baggins, we did plan our descent into the Canyon under the guidance of our faithful cruise director Mr. Julie McCoy, planning meals; carefully measuring and weighing gear; ordering more gear; organizing and reorganizing gear; ordering more gear; envisioning what we would need and when; and making sure each of us could handle the load…and ordering more gear.  #ocd

…except for rogue Mr. Bobby, who insisted on carrying the weight of another person plus the other person’s gear in his ultimate vision quest to have his own survivalist TV show – When he gets it, I want to find out what the camera crew does when the survivalist star is near death – Are they doing shots of whiskey and having a good laugh??

In my own training, I climbed a lot of stairs and visited Captain Amazing – I had to make sure the reputation I was about to establish was at its peak. 🙂  I performed admirably.

We did a pre-hike hike and pre-camp camp – It looked like we were as ready as we were going to be for the first of what will be MANY adventures.

However, Captain Amazing couldn’t find his flip-flops – damnit! Where is that x-ray vision??

Day 1: The Journey Begins

We arrived at our meeting place where gear was sorted and loaded into our vehicle, filled to the brim. We should have taken a picture of the back of the car – next trip.

We set sail at 5pm through rush-hour traffic to meet up with other members of the group: Challenge #1.

Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many paths to tread through shadows to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight.

It was 80 or so degrees leaving Phoenix. We arrived in Flagstaff where the temperature was cut in half – We were hungry and thirsty and a little weary. We dragged our cold parched bodies from the car to the pub.

After round #1 of beverages – we were warmed up and our personalities came out –

We made introductions to the other subset of our complete camp. Ms. 3-Liters-Of-Wine (Ms. 3L for short) asked how our merry LOUD band of five knew each other.

I summarized for her: “They are all my clients – Mr. Bobby is my brother (pointing to him). This one (indicating Captain Amazing) used to be married to his (Mr. Luge) sister. These two were fraternity brothers in college (pointing to Mr. Julie McCoy and Mr. Luge); and I’m sleeping with him (pointing to Captain Amazing).

And then we all chanted – “Jer-ry, Jer-ry, Jer-ry!!!!!!”  #jerryspringer

Note: I love being one of the guys. It wayyy more fun than being one of the girls. #iloveboys

After thoroughly embarrassing and harassing our bar wench about the size of her breasts and various other inappropriate topics, it was time to move on – with another 2-½ hours of driving left to go to reach the trail head.

By the way, Captain Amazing did NOT sleep at all that last leg of the drive – but snored amazingly well for a wide awake man 😉 He is amazing, after all! #breatherightstrips

We arrived at the trail head lot at about midnight. There were cars everywhere, lining both sides of the narrow road and filling the parking lot. We found our parking spot…

Our original intention was to pitch a tent and sleep in it; however, we didn’t move from our spots in the car.

As exhaustion set in, I listened to these 4 men sleep, breathing deeply, with heads bobbing every which way, and I drifted in and out of uncomfortable quasi-sleep….UNCOMFORTABLE is the key word here.

…until thankfully Captain Amazing insisted it was time to move because he hadn’t slept at all – hmmmm… #denial

So we opened the car doors and let in the freezing air, exited the car, and began Day #2 – which looked like this:

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The quoted material and characters from Lord of the Rings are the property of JRR Tolkien. I’m in awe of his creative genius. This is just a blog and just for fun.

 

The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 2

To The Falls And Back Again

 

Day #2 – The Descent

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places.

 

At O-Dark-30, approximately 3:30 – 4 am, it was time to get our gear on and get our butts down the mountain. We unpacked the back of the car, divided our first-class food rations to go into our packs, organized our packs, took bathroom pit stops, put gloves on and hats on…

…and Captain Amazing wanted to weigh packs with his hanging scale…The man loves his toys. Mr. Bobby’s pack weighed in at approximately 85 pounds. That is really heavy, if you need a frame of reference. #insanity

With our headlamps on, we took our first steps onto the trail that would lead down into the Grand Canyon. It was as if we were astronauts walking on the moon. It was surreal and dark.

If you look closely, you can see the ridge the background – it’s there. #truestory

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At that point, even though I was hiking into the canyon, I still hadn’t seen it.

Spoiler Alert (we survived!) – On the climb back up on our last day, when I could see the path fully and was making each careful step up over giant rocks and railroad ties, I was completely in awe that we were able to hike down in the pitch black dark, with just the light of our little lamps…and not die.

Of course, we did have Captain Amazing with us – who did outdo most others in the Toys & Gadgets Department.

“That’s not a light,” he said to Mr. Bobby, “…THIS is a light!” (said with the Crocodile Dundee enthusiasm and accent) – and he turned his headlamp brights on to demonstrate the awesome power of his LED.

Yes, that Crocodile Dundee line did come out again when they were comparing knives. #crikeymate

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We marched, single file, chatting yet being careful where we stepped, over railroad ties, dodging boulders, and of course, staying on the trail rather than over the edge of the cliff.

As we went down, the sun came up. We were able to turn off our lights just before reaching the canyon floor.

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We found a ledge at the bottom where we could regroup. It was significantly warmer at the bottom of the mountain. We stripped off the extra layers of clothes and took some pics. If there was a chance for a photo op, we took it. We have over 549 pictures! #supermodelswag

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Packs back on, we forged ahead over river rock and gravel – It was not easy terrain. As much as I wanted to look up to the see the vast beauty that I was trekking through while I was trekking, one misstep was going to mean a broken ankle. So I took quick peeks and used my peripheral vision –

…and we did stop to admire the beauty and let those who needed a little recovery recover.

Ms. 3L was carrying quite a load – 3L of wine is heavy, especially when it is packed with water and a Costco-sized bag of tortillas (she didn’t have Captain Amazing or Mr. Julie McCoy helping her prioritize her gear)…

…and of course, Mr. Bobby – Again – ROGUE survivalist with +85 lbs – He had everything he needed to live comfortably, just in case the Zombie Apocalypse occurred on this trip.

Mr. Bobby had a staff-like walking stick – I wanted one too (my idea – and I didn’t want boring ski poles from REI!), but the man who made it didn’t have another one on hand for me (bummer).

I know Mr. Bobby was going for the Gandalf look…poised, dignified, badass

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…but watching him walk once he got started again (he needed assistance standing up every time he sat down – his pack was THAT heavy), his legs were wobbly, and the way his backpack sat on his back gave him a hunchback look, and the manner of cane use reminded me more of this character from Disney’s Aladdin.

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…not quite the majesty and elegance of Gandalf… 🙂

~~~

We eventually made it to the village of Supai, where our camping fees were paid and we had yet another pit stop. This was the mule haven.

At this point, the terrain changed from gravel and river rock to soft, soft beach sand – great for the calves.

My mantra: Mini-skirt legs, mini-skirt legs, mini-skirt legs.

The boys may have been chanting that as well, although for slightly different reasons. #hotchickswag

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We knew that from the village, we had just 2 miles remaining before we reached camp.

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Our trail followed a river with light turquoise clear water flowing through it, with small waterfalls varying the stream…until we rounded a corner and came upon the first waterfall, the namesake of the trail, Havasupai Falls.

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Camp was just down the hill – the very, very steep hill.

And we all thought, “Holy shit, we have to climb back up this thing when we leave.”

It seemed significantly steeper than our first downhill climb in the dark. But the darkness plays tricks on the mind – I wasn’t worried about it.

Of course, I’m a superstar ninja goddess, and I can do anything 😉 #ninjasrule

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The quoted material and characters from Lord of the Rings are the property of JRR Tolkien. I’m in awe of his creative genius. This is just a blog and just for fun.

 

The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 3

To The Falls And Back Again

 

Day #2 – Camp

Where thou art, that is home.

We made it to camp! YAY!

Sweaty, tired, dirty, hungry – it felt so good to remove the packs. It was time to establish what would be our home for the next couple of days.

Captain Amazing began scouting the grounds for the ideal spot to pitch our tent. He was looking around at the trees and the ground, determining where the sun was, walking around, kinda talking to himself out loud:

“We want to have shade…be close enough to the others but have privacy…a view…”

He stopped in his tracks and looked at the river –

“This is the spot. We’ll position the tent this way, so we have a breeze…and this window will be there, so we have a view…and we’ll put our heads on this side.” 

He was using enthusiastic and wild hand gestures to demonstrate how the positioning of the tent would occur…(fricking adorable!)

OK – Done and done!

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The great thing about vacations and going totally off-grid – no clocks, no phones. So we had no idea what time it was. However, this did affect where the sun was and where the shade disappeared to shortly after that picture was taken…as I was attempting a nap in the tent…

…which became an oven…where I melted and was drenched in a pool of sweat.   #sweatlodge

I woke up, dried off, replenished the gallon of fluids I lost in my nap attempt in the oven, and found the guys at our neighbor’s table shooting the shit. We discussed the tent temperature and that we would need to move our homestead and sadly lose our view.

We moved the tent to another location. Slightly disappointed that we no longer had the view he wanted, Captain Amazing was immediately gratified at the 20-degree cooler temperature we had at the new spot across the pathway in the shade.

It was time to go play in the water – Shorts on, cameras ready – we hiked up the short distance to Havasupai Falls.

It was beautiful from the bottom – The boys went in for a swim. I waded about knee deep – it was really cold. The force of the water coming down created a chilly misty wind also, so I was perfectly content to watch them frolic and swim against the current to reach the falls.

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The other guys hung with me and told me there were bigger and better falls, and that’s where getting in the freezing water would be worth my while. Super cool!

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Ahhhhh — we all felt fresh as daisies 🙂  Time for a proper nap!

So we walked back to camp. Our new tent site was shaded properly – YAY! – so we would not bake in the sun. Since everyone was going to rest up a bit, so we thought, Captain Amazing and I decided to have a little fun – and break in the tent 🙂

We closed up the flaps, just enough for privacy but left a little room for air – it was still 80-something degrees.

From my vantage point, I wasn’t seeing anything but bliss – ahhh, yes – However, what he saw was rather disturbing.

I suppose we should have been flattered by the Peeping Tom who had his face up against the tiny opening we left for air – watching our fun and games – I mean really, we were THAT good that it was worth watching. I have to high-five us for that!

Although, I can’t believe I missed an entrepreneurial opportunity! We should have opened up a concession stand and charged admission.

Thankfully, I was not informed about the captive audience until we were done – I might have been embarrassed otherwise – HA HA! NOT.

I know it wasn’t the first time in my life, and it likely won’t be the last. I do know of a group of boys who enjoyed watching me take a shower when we were in high school. You guys know who you are!

Despite the nosy neighbors, we were able to sleep. I awoke and left the tent – Captain Amazing was still sleeping. He had to be more tired than me since he did NOT sleep at all in the car the night before, as evidenced by his wide awake snoring 🙂 xo

I went over to my brother’s military compound to visit with him at our dining picnic table.  I told Mr. Bobby the story of the peeper and circumstances surrounding the event. “Ewww,” he said.

I’m pretty sure he was referring to the peeper, not the fact that I had just been “getting it on” and I was now telling him about it 😉  #ihavenoboundaries

And then we looked over at my new home-away-from-home and watched the peeper pitch his tent right next to ours – with very little space between the tents – like he was establishing a new suburban subdivision where there is less than 12 inches between homes.

“Looks like ya got yerself a cozy little ‘hood,” Mr. Bobby said hillbilly style.

Great – NOT!

Well, then – I will just have to be very loud tonight. Challenge accepted!!

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I mentioned earlier that we had first-class food rations. That is no exaggeration. We had food in the cooler in the car waiting for us to climb out (sausage & eggs baked in muffin tins, chocolate protein brownie bites, cinnamon protein recovery cake, and bananas) – in addition to the food we packed in.

Our resident geniuses Mr. Luge and Captain Amazing created small refrigerator boxes, made out of cardboard, Mylar bags, and duct tape. So we packed in steak, rice, meatloaf, quinoa, bacon, eggs, and lunchmeat; as well as a ready-to-eat lunch of meatballs, asparagus, and potato wedges. #menuofthegods

No freeze-dried meals for us!

Oh, and Captain Amazing brought in 2 flasks of rum to share with me 🙂 Yum!  #getmydrinkon

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

Um, yeah, I had the equivalent of 4 – just saying

~~

Speaking of rum – I might have to change his name to Captain Morgan 🙂 Although the rest of us kinda got into the spirit of the pose too – He was sharing rum with me after all!  #piratesrule

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~

Dinner and drinks – Our original menu for Friday night was steak and rice; however, the steaks were still frozen. The fridges worked!!! So we ate the delicious meatloaf and something tasty for dessert…plus rum and Crystal Light…

The banter was all guy talk – it was so fun. I’ve always hung out with guys – always. There is no backstabbing or cattiness – nobody’s feelings get hurt – and there is no talk of feelings, which is great. And you’re free to say anything.

This quote exemplifies the dining picnic table/bar talk:

A lady came up to me one day and said ‘Sir! You are drunk’, to which I replied, ‘I am drunk today madam, and tomorrow I shall be sober, but you will still be ugly.

#you-be-ugly

This was also this night that Mr. Luge earned his nickname. His evening attire consisted of a long-sleeved tight dry-fit Under Armour shirt with black long-johns. Thus, he looked like a member of an Olympic luge team.

~

With the equivalent of 4 drinks swirling inside me, it was time to retire – under my host 😉 He he!! Operation noisy commenced. This is where urban myths are formed as well as reputations…

…I certainly got into my part…I delivered quite a performance – although as I stated before, the company I keep with Captain Amazing is effortless and enjoyable on many levels – so all I had to do really was turn up the volume.

Everything else happened organically…or I should say, orgasmicly.  #yoloswag

I love camping! ❤

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes above are courtesy of emily dickinson, Dorothy Parker, and Winston Churchill.

 

The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 3.5 – The Lost Chapter

The Lost Chapter: Night Terrors & The She-Demon

…or The Desolation of Mr. Bobby

By Rogue Survivalist Mr. Bobby

Survivalist’s Log:
May 9, 2014, sometime after nightfall

A hard hike completed, a well placed camp set, a hearty meal in place, The Survivalist was ready to settle in for a good night’s rest.

All about, the animals of the night took flight, as night transitioned from day.

Bats flew silently through the twilight sky, snatching up the unexpected. Frogs and insects began their songs of love and filled the air like a warm blanket. The canyon was comfortable and inviting.

With the “good nights” said to new friends, The Survivalist anticipated a well deserved sleep and visions of new adventures for tomorrow danced across his mind.

He settled in with the sounds of the night. Flashes of light shown through the tent, with crunches of dirt and stone created by passersby.

The night’s noises about, the Survivalist turned to music to soothe his restless mind. An unsettling calm started to grow within him.

The warm night soon turned into an ocean abyss. The bats fell away to darkness, the frogs and insects were silenced. The warmth was pushed away by the cold menacing pressure and darkness.

The sound was faint at first. It was shapeless and translucent, like the shadow of a great white swimming out of the cold vastness. And just like a shark circling its prey, The Survivalist treaded water in the night stillness, knowing the only outcome was survival.

The sound began to take shape and increase in intensity. The rhythmic moans became familiar and with that, the unsettling dread.

He wiggled in the sleeping bag, like a worm caught on a hook.

“There’s nowhere to run,” he thought.

The moans quickly turned to shrills. The She-Demon calls for her master’s approval echoed through the canyon.

The Survivalist escaped to his music but soon discovered there was nothing that could silence the unpleasantness that fired from outside.The passersby only added to the uneasiness he was feeling.

As the calls grew louder, the feelings of distance within him increased. He was a lost pilgrim in an unholy land.

With each shriek, he retreated further and further into the recesses of his mind. Nothing he did helped; nothing he could do to stop it.

Just as the vocals and cries climaxed, they immediately died away.

The She-Demon was silenced in contentment. The night however, did not return to its former warmth.

The animals remained quiet and hidden. Even the passerby’s frequency diminished in the aftermath. The Survivalist did not dare venture out. He remained cocooned.

To some, the experience was as normal as the wind blowing or the river flowing. But for him, the noises and imagery will remain a part of him for years to come.

There was no rest for me this eve. The best I could hope for is to survive. #truestory

#my-sister-the-she-demon-ho

~~

Thanks for the donation, Mr. Bobby – What is said and heard at camp, stays at camp – It’s Vegas! Geeeeesh!

The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 4

To The Falls And Back Again

Day #3 – Cliff Climbing and Dare-Devilry

I had every reason to sleep very soundly – rum, fun, lack of sleep the night before, and 10 miles of hiking – all produced fitful slumber, such that, when I started to regain consciousness, I thought I was at home, and it took me a few minutes to realize that I was in a tent in the bottom of the Grand Canyon next to Captain Amazing.

#LifeIsGOOOOOD!!!

It was still dark, probably 3 or 4 a.m. since I usually wake up at that time. I had strategically placed a neatly organized pile near the tent door which contained a flashlight, headlamp, toilet paper, and my shoes. My pile wasn’t as tidy as I had originally left it – oh yeah, my fun was little crazy last night –

I couldn’t find the flashlight, so I grabbed the headlamp and my shoes, unzipped the door, and clambered out into the cool dark air.

FYI – there are about a gazillion more stars at the Grand Canyon than anyplace I have ever been. I was dizzy from looking at the stars (yeah, that’s why I was dizzy).  #startrek

I made my way in the dark toward the bathroom. However, my headlamp was fading. There was a couple walking ahead of me, so did my best to keep an eye on them and not trip, turning off my headlamp from time to time to save the battery – in case I didn’t have a guide for the return trip back to the tent.

The bathrooms at this campsite were awesome – They have a terrific system there – no odor at all.

Returning to the tent was difficult – I had almost no light, so I walked carefully – Ouch, tree stump! At least I was on the right path.

Since it was still quite dark, and nobody was awake to play, I tucked myself back in and managed some more sleep until the sun came up.

Mr. Luge and Mr. Julie McCoy walked by, shook our tent, and made girly orgasmic noises to awaken us. I laughed – #ohohoh

Oh yeah – it’s all coming back to me now.

We got ourselves moving and joined the other boys at Mr. Bobby’s military compound for breakfast.

Captain Amazing and I are coffee drinkers – YAY- so we shared a mug of coffee and shared our oatmeal, drinking from the mug and eating from the same bowl –

If we weren’t so awesomely cool, and if we were actually a “couple,” we probably would have been accused of being one of those irritatingly syrupy sweet couples that are joined at the hip and do everything together and dress alike – GAG.

Thankfully, that is NOT the case! We are too cool for that – and there is nothing syrupy going on here…just saying… #nostringsattached

I am relieved that there wasn’t any teasing of THAT nature going on – because THAT would have embarrassed me…

On the contrary, it was decided that the “code word” of the day, if we got into trouble, would be “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh God – YES” in girly orgasmic tones.

For some reason, that was not embarrassing to me.

Friends are like orgasms: You can never have too many, but just try to watch out for the fake ones.

The plan for this fine Saturday was an expedition of the epic kind. We were to explore the Canyon – taking a trail leading to Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.

Ms. 3L had contracted a wicked case of blisters. Since Mr. Bobby had hiked in with a complete medical kit (probably including gurney, stethoscope, anal thermometer, and speculum – because one never knows what one might need in the eventual case of Zombie Apocalypse), his military compound became the 4077th MASH unit.

He played Trapper John and treated wounds with Neosporin, gauze, needles, moleskin, bandages. (I don’t think anyone needed a pelvic exam), while the rest of us gathered up our gear and prepared for the day’s hike. #lockedandloaded

Our gear consisted of light snacks, water, cameras, swimsuits, and water shoes.

Except for Mr. Bobby – who wanted to be Rambo.

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We began our trek, not knowing what we would see or find. It was this day that reminded me most of The Lord of the Rings because of the terrain and we didn’t really have proper shoes.

As we walked through portions of the campgrounds that we had never seen before, Captain Amazing commented on every tent and piece of camping equipment that we passed. He knew every brand, how much it weighed, the various other styles each tent came in, its best use, the optimal temperature for each bag, hammock, tent, and tarp, and how to properly accessorize each – It was very educational 😉 #helovestoys

The site for next year’s trip was also determined. We would go “back here” where there was more shade.

The path led us through gorgeous blooming cactus. One would expect to see cactus in Arizona…but everything else we saw and experienced was nothing short of surprisingly spectacular.

It was not long before we came upon the first waterfall – Mooney Falls – which was larger than Havasupai in width and height.

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In order to get to the bottom and go for a swim, we had to climb down –

– first through a cave/tunnel –

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YIKES!

That was the only millisecond of hesitation I had. I was not going to chickenshit out of anything on this adventure, despite my fear of heights. I laughed in the face of fear – ha ha ha!! …and I pretended I was at Disneyland.

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The side of the cliff was equipped with chains and large stakes, along with some ladders to assist climbers with their challenge of reaching the bottom…alive… #yolo

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At certain points in scaling the side of this mountain, it was much easier for me to climb down backwards, finding hand holds, grabbing chain…and of course, not dying… #yolo

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There was a couple immediately in front of (below) me carrying pool noodles (WTF??????) who told me that at peak times of day, it could take up to 45 minutes to climb down because of the “nervous nellies” who would change their minds about going all the way down and be frozen in narcissistic fear, not able to go down or up, holding up the line.

That would NOT be me – NOT TODAY!

I had nothing to lose – My sanity was already gone – so I kept my pace steady and careful, so as not to die.

…and there were moments of pausing and waiting for the people below to continue on, so I had to pose for the camera – and shout a WOOT and do a little dance.

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It’s quite impressive to see our accomplishment.

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HAZZAH! We made it down…alive. We walked across the penninsula to some trees and a smaller water fall, where we were told there was a cave. The boys wanted to swim and take pictures in the cave.

Like Havasupai, Mooney Falls generated a great deal of icy misty wind. This water was freezing cold. I waded in thigh high. That water was not touching my parts!

The boys, however, felt the urge to have their parts race right back up inside their abdomens. #shrinkage

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The boys were nuts!!

Do women know about shrinkage?
What, do you mean, like laundry?
No…Like when a man goes swimming… Afterwards…
It shrinks?
Like a frightened turtle.
I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.

 

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And Mr. Bobby had his chance to play Rambo 🙂

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It was time to towel off and move on to the next stop – Beaver Falls – which interestingly enough the name was not teased – at least I didn’t hear it – I was waiting for it though.

We grabbed our things and continued forward. I would tell you the direction, but I have no idea. We will pretend it was north.

The path traversed the river a few times, and we paused under a cave-like overhang for more pictures. We hiked over logs, leaped over small ravines, climbed over hills using trees as hand holds.

I went on a hike in Alaska when I traveled there on a fishing trip in 2008 – similarly a guys trip – therefore, very fun! That was one of the most beautiful places I had seen, until this day.

The Canyon walls were more colorful in person than any picture I had ever seen. And we came upon GRAPES – fields and fields of grapes.

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It was unreal and so beautiful. We stomped through the fields of grape vines, listening for the velociraptors hunting us. #Jurassicpark

The path was thick with foliage but still quite functional and well traveled. We stopped and took pictures at every picturesque site we came upon…listening or the velociratpors 🙂

There was a point where the path took us adjacent to the Canyon wall. This rock was very different from the cliffs we were climbing, and I wanted to touch it. I left the path a bit and dashed up a small hill and touched the wall. It was warm and smooth.

I kind of felt like Nemo when he touched the boat.

Oh look at me. I’m gonna touch the butt.

Mr. Julie McCoy asked why I did that when we have been climbing all over rocks today.

“It’s different. This is the Canyon wall. It probably has mystical powers or something. And it’s just special. I don’t want to be this close to the edge and not touch it.”

He followed suit, and so did Captain Amazing.

Our directions for reaching Beaver Falls were simply to follow the trail and when we reached the palm tree – the only palm tree in the Grand Canyon – then we could continue forward and up the plateau or change directions … which was a little vague and we didn’t quite understand that.

I don’t know where the directions came from – perhaps a tribal elder whose English was not altogether cohesive.

Nevertheless, since we were all now experienced “mountain goats,” we chose the climbing route – and scaled more cliffs and climbed higher toward the end of the Beaver Falls territory and had fantastic views of our next playground….

 

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This was Beaver Falls where we spent quite a bit of time and ate snacks on the cliff wall. The darker areas in the water are just shallow spots. The water was beautifully crystal clear.

…and Captain Amazing flew!! – I knew he had more super powers 😉 #yoloswag

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I did go all the way in – not bad for a cat – meow!

Jumping in, however, was going above and beyond my fear factor – so I opted to climb down, and Captain Amazing amazed me again, by assisting me and making sure I was safe…

It probably wasn’t a bad vantage point for him either…hand on my ass…thank you!

“You got it, Babe,” he said. “Do mind you mind if I call you, Babe?”

He he he!!! 🙂 I think I had an orgasm on the ladder – “Be cool,” I told myself –

“Not at all, I love that!”

Not sure how cool that was, but I was warm and fuzzy inside, and that was the only time I was ever concerned about what I said or what my reaction was – and it was fleeting.

We played and chilled – figuratively because the water here was actually quite pleasant –

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After eating our snacks along the cliff wall, we determined it was time to journey back to camp, taking the other route so we could see new and different things.

And the Canyon did look different going in this direction.

 

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Quotes above are by Jarod Kintz and from Disney’s “finding nemo,” and “Seinfeld” – The Hamptons episode.

 

 

The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 5

To The Falls And Back Again

Day #3 – Lunch and Other Goodies

The romp back from Beaver Falls went sooo much faster than we anticipated. Of course, we had already seen much of the beautiful landscape, so we didn’t have to stop and take as many pictures…and the cameras no longer had much battery life left.

We arrived at Mooney Falls, where we had the great pleasure of climbing up the cliff – That was even funner than going down.

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We arrived back at the homestead and took inventory of the food we had left: Bacon, eggs, quinoa, turkey, pepperoni, salami…Mr. Julie McCoy had an idea. He walked over to the neighbors and brought back the Costco-sized bag of tortillas –

Our lunch was bacon-egg-quinoa-turkey-pepperoni-salami burritos – Lunch of champions. #baconrules

They were very, very tasty. Mr. Luge was quite a chef.

Medic Mr. Bobby, AKA Trapper John, was called over to the 4077th to fix some new blister wounds and a couple of bug bites.

I did massage out a few kinks in low backs, calves, and shoulders over the course of the entire trip – you could say that they all had my hands on them 🙂

Anyway, we were off to Havasupai Falls for more water fun…work off our lunch and get ready for our steak dinner feast.

Group picture: Huddle up – ready – BREAK!

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Mr. Julie McCoy and I decided to explore while the other three went for a swim. We found some caves up in the cliff. Captain Amazing gave me his camera so I could add some photos.

There was an iridescent little waterfall tucked inside one of the caves. There wasn’t much else to see, but our exploration allowed us a chance to chat.

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I thanked him again for the kind invitation for this AWESOME trip. I want to make sure I am invited every time! #gratitude

~

We returned to camp, cleaned up, and chilled before dinner. Mr. Bobby pulled out his kitchen sink and started a load of laundry. He asked everyone if they needed anything washed – the boys stripped off their clothes.

Mr. Bobby has very excellent housewifery skills – skills that I lack. I have mommy/communication type skills, but in the overall domestic goddess department, I would prefer room service and a maid….or Mr. Bobby…  #longlivebobby

The guys agreed – Mr. Bobby would be invited on every trip because of his kitchen sink – and his medical kit.

As we prepared the dining picnic table “kitchen central,” and the clothes were being laundered, the banter kicked up a notch –

Being a creative inventor, “MacGyver” type of man, Captain Amazing noted his camping coffee mug was just the right size to hold a liter of water. He mentioned this a few times and how he was going to buy another one so he could carry his liters of water on the outside of his pack in these handy-dandy cup holders.

A bet was placed about how many more times he would tell us the story of purchasing the second cup….I said 3 more times…Mr. Julie McCoy said 10, and Mr. Luge said 60.

Captain Amazing made sure I won the bet – on the car ride home! 🙂 #iwontletitgotomyhead

~

On other camping trips, the boys established the tradition of eating steak on the first night. That was our original first night menu; however, our crafty inventors created such awesome little refrigerator boxes that the steaks were still frozen on the first night at camp.

Once the duct tape seal was broken, the steaks were able to thaw, so they were the perfect temperature for cooking on our dining picnic table.

Our resident chef, Mr. Luge, prepared our perfectly marinated steaks using the very best cooking equipment we had – since we couldn’t have fire – an MSR camping stove, JetBoil, and a frying pan.

The rice was soaking in its boiling water in a special bowl with duct tape “cozy” for insulation that Captain Amazing invented. Mr. Julie McCoy provided us with dessert, small date-based cookies he picked up at Whole Foods on local farmer’s market day.

Mr. Luge was our main cook for most of our meals – If he grew a mustache, he could pass as the Swedish Chef –

chefs

Mr. Bobby cleaned the dishes, and the rest of us organized and packed up the food for the morning.

Camping wouldn’t be camping without a scene from Blazing Saddles – while we weren’t allowed a campfire, there was plenty of gas being released around the table.

A good fart joke makes me bawl with laughter, so will somebody farting. And the word ‘poo.’ You can’t beat a good poo joke.

I was flattered really – the guys were all comfortable enough with me and themselves to just be themselves and let it all out. We were outside, so it was okay 🙂

…and it was time for the second flask of rum! Yum! 🙂

Throughout our social moments in camp, my brother performed his classic “Bobby” character, a dim Forrest Gump like character, totally obnoxious – politically incorrect on ALL levels, but hilarious nonetheless – the kind of funny that makes you snort and catches you off guard.

And he has a permanent invitation to all future adventures if he brings his “Bobby” character with him. #bobbytard

As we sipped our rum, we formulated our exit strategy – I was in charge of waking up the crew, since I have the mad skill of waking up on my own at 4 a.m. We wanted an early start, planning for high temperatures once we reached the base of the final vertical climb. Good plan!

I think I had a smidge too much rum that night – Yes, I was quite ready to be under my host, but I was a little wobbly walking to the bathroom before retiring. #madamlush

I vaguely recall the beginnings of a discussion about the nature of our relations – but I either tuned it out, don’t remember, or we got distracted and the talk was never finished –

– so I sit here remaining blissfully oblivious as to the labels of our affair and will remain so…for hopefully ever. #friendswithbenefitsforever

‘Because I like you,’ she said, ‘and I don’t want anything from you.’

The phrase: “We need to talk” sends waves of trauma, nausea, and terror through the very core of my being. It’s heinous. Can we invent a new phrase? Along with new labels? Something cool and nonconformist – something that doesn’t equal prison to me?

A little stumbly and a little fumbly, we made it back to our tent and decided it would be best to set the alarm, just in case my body clock malfunctioned.

I was tucked in, disheveled, spent – I don’t think I produced the volume that I had the night before, but the fun was never-ending –  the only way to fly!  #multiples

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes above are from Jenny Eclaire, Ray Bradbury, and Mae West (my role model for all things womanly)

The Fellowship of the Falls – Book 1: Chapter 6

To The Falls And Back Again

Day #4 – The Final Ascent

 

I awoke on my own, not knowing what time it was, desperate for water and the bathroom. I grabbed the water and took a big gulp.

The wind was howling but the tent was very comfortable.

I found my flashlight and shoes, tucked my roll of toilet paper in the cleavage compartment of my bra (my girls do a fine job holding things that I need when I need them), and I scooted out of the tent.

Once again, the stars were a magnet to my gaze. Gillions of stars – #startreknextgeneration

I had attended a Saturn viewing at the Challenger Space Center once, and the lecture was mind-blowing: The stars you see right now, do not exist anymore – You are seeing something that was shining millions of years ago, but the light takes that long to travel to our eyes. I actually developed a headache from mentally grasping that concept.

The temperature had dropped quite a bit, and it was windy for sure. I made it to the bathroom and back in one piece – hooray. I returned to the tent, not knowing if it was time to wake everyone up. I didn’t want to do that if it was only 1 or 2.

I nudged Captain Amazing and asked him what time it was. He reached for his phone – 3:20 – so I lay back down and stretched and listened to the wind until I felt an appropriate amount of time had passed.

I left the tent and woke up Mr. Luge and Mr. Julie McCoy first.

“Good morning, Boys – It’s time to wake up,” I sweetly cooed.

I then went over to Mr. Bobby’s compound – “Hey – Wake up!!”

He’s my brother – I don’t have to be sweet.

Captain Amazing was aroused by my beginning to pack up my gear.

Did I just say “aroused” out loud??? he he he!  #onetrackmind

We all worked diligently to deflate sleeping pads, stuff sleeping bags into stuff sacks, pack up clothes, assemble backpacks, and then take down the tents. We were all efficient teams.

I was the first one done and very proud of that. My goal was to not have anybody waiting for me and my girly habits.

“You’re done already? Gawd, you always smell so good,” Captain Amazing said to me.

Awww thanks!

We ate our final meal at camp – oatmeal and coffee – cleaned our dishes, packed our food gear, cleared our camp sites, and headed out – our final ascent.

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Just before sunrise, we were on the road. Our first obstacle was the very, very steep hill adjacent to Havasupai Falls, the one we were dreading – because when we went down it, it felt much steeper than the initial climb into the Canyon – shorter but steeper.

Mr. Bobby’s pack was still way too heavy – He still had the MASH unit, kitchen sink, and probably the entire outdoor section of Bed, Bath & Beyond in his pack – We would eventually fix this.

I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind.

 

As we approached the village of Supai, the sky grew darker. There were some hikers waiting for the village store to open, and we asked them to take our picture.

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We passed through the town, and then it started to rain. We attempted to cover the packs, but then it didn’t really matter since we were heading home.

There were many gusts of wind, especially as we trekked through the flash-flood areas – wind tunnels.

I put my scarf over my head to cover my ears. It was chilly.

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There were many hikers coming down, and we gave them the same friendly message we had received on the way in:

“Almost there…maybe another hour and a half.”

We kept a fairly steady pace between the rest stops for Mr. Bobby, whose legs were giving out on him from the weight of his pack.

An executive decision was made – we took apart his pack and divided it up among the 4 of us. I stuffed some clothes in the little empty space I had and placed a day pack around my shoulders to my front – so I had a front-pack and a back-pack.

The terrain became a little tricky with the front-pack because I couldn’t see my feet anymore.

The air was cold, but we were sweating, diligently marching until we reached the bottom of our final ascent – The Big Daddy – the mile and a half uphill. We couldn’t see the top.

We took a break at the same placed we broke on our way down – ate a quick snack, watered up, made any adjustments we needed to make. A train of mules passed by, so we let them pass before we moved out.

The mules stop for NOBODY – and they come very quickly.  They will run you over and not think twice about it – and the driver probably won’t care either – so you are warned. Do not wear headphones on this hike or you will die.  #deathbymule

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When the trip was initially planned, we had talked about taking the helicopter out – which would have been cool in its own right. Helicopters are a fun ride.

But as the emails were going back and forth and the trash talk that accompanied them – the gauntlet was thrown – and we made a pact to climb out with our gear.

We took a collective deep breath and solidified our fortitude to get this challenge done, with every intention of reaching the top together.

You don’t climb mountains without a team; you don’t climb mountains without being fit; you don’t climb mountains without being prepared; and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.

We couldn’t see the top from where we were. Mr. Luge led the way on the path. There was a fork in the road: To the left appeared to be steeper but a straight shot – To the right, less steep but greater length with an extra switchback.

The left fork was taken – steeper and shorter. #harder #faster #onetrackmind 🙂

Captain Amazing was behind me, and I heard him slip. I turned around and found him sitting on a rock.

“Are you sitting on purpose or did you fall? Are you ok?”

He said that he had, in fact, slipped but caught himself and was ok. There were rocks to climb over, railroad ties, and other obstacles, as well as having to move when the mules came up behind us and avoid the hikers coming down.

I couldn’t see my feet, so each step was deliberate. My mantra was: Step, breathe. Step, breathe. Step, breathe.

The wind was cold on my face, making my nose run and making the sweat all over me cold – there was a lot of dust and because of the difficulty of this climb and my runny nose, I was breathing heavily through my mouth – like a train – inhale, exhale – with deliberate purpose. My heart was pounding in my chest, and my throat was burning.

One hiker passerby told us that he had driven through snow flurries on his way to the trail head. Great!

Midway up the incline, we still couldn’t see the top. The only way to identify the switchbacks was by the hikers on them. It was here that the temperature really dropped.

Mr. Julie McCoy and I kept our pace steady – step, breathe; step, breathe. He is a marathon runner and I am a workout junkie – I have also walked many thousands of miles just because I can.

Step one to running a marathon: You run.
There is no step two.

Because of the weight Mr. Bobby had started out with, his legs were cramping, so he, Mr. Luge, and Captain Amazing formed a team of three, taking breaks when they needed to.

Mr. Julie McCoy and I would take pauses to look back and make sure they were ok while they were resting – looking down in awe of how high we had climbed – and would start up again when we received the thumbs up.

We marched ahead, not really knowing how much further we had to go.

I feel like I’m this close to death –
– but that much closer to really LIVING.

There was a group of teens hiking up at the same time – we would pass them, and they would pass us when we stopped.

When we caught up to them, I asked how old they were – 18 – and I said they were doing so great, gave them a pep talk – “We’re almost there,” even though we still couldn’t see the top.

I rounded a corner, and there it was, the top! WOOT, WOOT – we did it!!!

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I stopped there and Mr. Julie McCoy caught up to me.

“Let’s wait here so we can all cross the ‘finish line’ together.”

We looked down and saw the rest of our fellowship, not too far behind.

There were light snow flurries. It was astounding that we had just been wearing swimsuits the day before, and we only WALKED to this change in weather.

The other three caught up to us, and the five of us hiked up the last hill together, threw our hands up, and cheered for ourselves.

Stepping onto the blacktop of the parking lot felt like walking on pillows. It was crazy.

We found the car and dumped our packs. Captain Amazing got out his scale and took a final weight of each pack. Roughly the numbers were something like this: His was 40, Mr. Luge 45, Mr. Julie McCoy 35, Mr. Bobby 35, me 27.

We stripped off our sweaty clothes and put on our clean – COLD – clothes that we had left in the car, grabbed snacks, and began our drive home.

We stopped at a little town about an hour or so from the trail head. I knew getting out of the car was actually going to be the hardest part of the day –

My legs don’t work. I have ridden the subway twice from end to end. I’ve been where it turns around. Ted, you don’t ever want to see where it turns around.

We parked at the little gas-station store – similar to a Circle K – Captain Amazing was the first to jump out of the car – His legs didn’t work and down he went. #jello

We all laughed really hard, until it was each our turn to get out of the car.

UGH! We hobbled like 90-year-olds and grumbled just as much.

We used the bathroom, freshened up, bought snacks, and forged ahead. Next stop: Flagstaff and burgers.

As we drove, Captain Amazing had this spectacular aha-moment:

“Maybe you guys are right. I might have slept in the car on our way up. I don’t remember any of this.”

🙂

He was riding shotgun, studying his “Hikes of Arizona” book, categorizing each hike by difficulty and prioritizing the order in which we would tackle each of them. He worked diligently until we reached Flagstaff.

There were signs along this section of highway put up by Burma Shave – They were poetic advertisements incrementally placed along the side of the road, so you could read each line as you drove.

I don’t recall the signs we actually saw, but here’s an example of a Burma Shave “poem.” Each line was its own sign.

DINAH DOESN’T
TREAT HIM RIGHT
BUT IF
HE’D SHAVE
DINAH-MITE!
Burma-Shave

We arrived in Flagstaff and refueled at a place called “Granny’s Closet” which was actually a sports bar, not a closet, nor was there a Granny in sight. Nevertheless, it was on the main road, and they had a menu – with burgers –

Mr. Julie McCoy and Mr. Bobby split the “The Heart Attack Burger” – Described as – “Call the Doctor!! Grilled burger topped with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, ancho mayo, and smashed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.”

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Mine was not quite as exciting – my typical bunless burger – and Captain Amazing ate my fries. 🙂 I took a sip of his beer.

Why were we still sharing food and drinks??? We each had our own dishes. I didn’t even think about it at the time – It’s just a hindsight observation. #friendswithbenefitsforeverremember

Mr. Julie McCoy rode shotgun the rest of the way home. As we drove, Captain Amazing talked to me about the hikes he wanted to do. He pointed out a couple of the hikes along the drive that he found in his book – hikes he wanted all of us to do next and showed me the work he had done in his book, with the numbers and the accompanying legend he created. #ocd

Mr. Luge and Mr. Julie McCoy looked at each other and snickered.

The rest of the drive remained uneventful. We arrived at our destination, unpacked the car, and reloaded our separate vehicles. The trip was over.

I wasn’t really ready for it to be over.

We said our goodbyes – hugged.

Captain Amazing grabbed my face and gave me the best kisses – He’s really good at that – I’m very lucky, indeed! #bestkisser

My brother dropped me off at my apartment – STAIRS – UGH!!

Our EPIC journey was over – but the high from it lasted for days…even though I caught a cold that laid me up – I originally attributed it to inhaling dust, but it was probably just a cold.

Let me tell you about a little thing I like to call ‘mind over body’… You see, whenever I start feeling sick, I just stop being sick and be awesome instead.

Nevertheless, the laying up allowed me the time to write out our tale – Our Fellowship of the Falls – and I cannot wait for the next adventure! #justbeawesome

I saw my brother, and he agreed – the BEST time with the BEST people!! We want to do it again this weekend!!

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth it was worth all the while

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

 

 

 

 

Quotes above are by JRR Tolkien from “The Lord of the Rings;” Mark Udall; Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother;” the 18-year-old girl on the trail; and the Greenday song “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).”