April 27, 2012
It was a good day! That sums it up! Finally, I can say the best day yet! I knew that after yesterday, today would be great. I'm not the kind of person that has two bad days in a row. Today had to be good!
This morning started with two parts awesome and one part amazing. First off, the weather this morning is so much more awesome than yesterday. Then, only minutes after leaving camp, I got to paddle the Grapevine Rapid and I have to brag that I did it awesomely! It was my biggest and most technical rapid yet. Then, at about mid-day, we FINALLY made it to Phantom Ranch and that was amazing!
My excitement when sky high when I saw the landmark bridge across the river just before the trail head to Phantom Ranch, which is a campground, ranger station, intersection of hiking trails between the North and South Rims, etc. at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Butch asked that we limit our time here so we'll be able to make good progress down the river. I know he wants to get past Horn Rapid sooner than later for several reasons. As soon as I stepped off the raft I set out to accomplish as much as I could physically handle.
First, I found the bathroom. A real bathroom with running water. I urinated in the urinal and washed my hands in a real sink twice. Then I saw the toilet and couldn't help myself so I took a spontaneous, on-demand, dump right there on the spot! Then I washed my hands some more in the real sink with running water. Hey, did I mention there is running water at Phantom Ranch???
After my bathroom stunt, I saw that Robert and Athena were on the pay phone. There are two pay phones here. One is at some bathrooms near the river. The other is about a mile up the trail at Phantom Ranch. I decided to run that mile and it is during this run that I decide that some day I shall return here with Jenny and trail run the Rim to Rim (Bright Angel Trail to Kaibab Trail or South Rim to North Rim). It's a beautiful scene with mature cottonwood trees nearly 100-years old planted all along the path. When I get there I see the pay phone is open so I jump on it, dial Jenny's number (after figuring out how to use a prepaid phone card) and when she answers the phone I choke up for words. Hearing her voice almost makes me cry. She even asks what is wrong with my voice. I pull myself together and spend about 30 minutes catching up with her. I learn that everything went fine with her getting home from Boston and the house and pets are OK, but most importantly I get to speak with Jenny and tell her I love her and I miss her. She tells me some local and family stuff and it's good to hear news from home. I was so thankful that no hikers were waiting on me and that we were able to take our time chatting.
After the phone conversation I see that Andy and Cathy are on the phone so I have a few minutes before heading back knowing that at least I'm not the only one Butch is waiting for up here. I walk into the Cantina and make a few purchases including the famous lemonade with real ice, a post card for Jenny that I leave in a mule saddlebag that will be mailed after being hauled out of the Grand Canyon, and a candy bar. The lemonade is so cold that I even eat the ice after finishing it as I walk back down toward the river.
We leave Phantom Ranch and hit the river for the roller coaster of rapids laying ahead of us that climax with Horn rapid. We scout the rapid before running it and are lucky enough to be able to watch another group go ahead of us. Robert gets to paddle it and we end up "splitting the horns" as we pick our line. Robert does very well, probably even cleaner than Butch although his boat is very stern heavy with an extra cooler.
Tonight we are camped at Granite rapid. It's the best camp in two days mostly because the weather is agreeable. Robert, Athena and I are making lasagna for dinner in a dutch oven! Bring on Day 11!
Athena's co-workers back in Portland, Ore., actually sent her a care package at Phantom Ranch and this blow-up killer whale was inside. I think it compliments our "Flower Power" boat quite well!