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Grand Canyon Backpack: North to South Rim and Clear Creek

About 70 Miles Total

Pat Burr, Nancy Bradford, Katherine Marotta, and Robert Winkler

by Robert Winkler and Pat Burr in Italic


Prolog

It seems the monsoon season has been extended due to the presence of the El NiŮo effect in the southern Pacific ocean. We will endure rain on our first day and increased levels of humidity in the days to come. At least everything is a lot greener.

Monday, September 15, 1997

At 7:30 am we catch the Lodge shuttle for the 1.5 mile drive to the North Kiabob trailhead. We exit the van into the pouring rain. After a short picture taking session we start down the trail into Roaring Springs Canyon carrying our 40 to 50 pound packs. In a short distance we encounter two mule trains loaded with tourists heading down a few miles and then back out. After 45 minutes or so the rain starts to taper a bit so itís off with the ponchos and rain coats.

Pat on the Trail

Weíre about 3.5 miles down and almost out of Roaring Springs Canyon when we decide to take our lunch break when we hear the thunder. Itís getting closer. Frightening lightening strikes the rim of the canyon almost directly across from us. The thunder roars and the sky opens. Red Supi mud laden streams form everywhere. Major drainages are flash flooding. There are waterfalls of red everywhere you look and in places where water almost never flows. We cannot stay here.

We are now wet, tired and cold. We move on.

It is starting to rain, Nancy, Katherine and I are waiting it out in a dry wash. As the lightening starts to hit overhead on the rim and the rain gets heavier, I like the looks of the tree Bob is standing under. Katherine follows next to me as I move, but Nancy being persnickety needs to tidy her pack before she moves. I tell myself if she gets hit by lightening and becomes a crispy critter that I had encouraged her to move. About ten minutes later Nancy wouldnít have been struck by lightening she would have pulling her pack out of water. The dry wash had turned into a small creek with fast moving water. Bob and I decide to check out the trail a little farther down. Iím nervous and want to move, Bob agrees, we round everyone up and start to move. As we continue water on the trail is about six inches deep, its nerve racking.

After a while the rain lets up and stops. Only the humidity remains. At around 2:00 pm we exit Roaring Springs Canyon, turning right down Bright Angel Canyon. This is the main side canyon eventually leading to Phantom Ranch. Even though we are going downhill we are exhausted. Every time we try to rest the rain starts up. Our rain gear goes on and comes off every fifteen minutes. By the seventh and last mile we donít bother changing at all. We take one or two minute stops every five or ten minutes.

We take another rest, Nancy and Katherine on one rock, Bob and I on another. There is dead silence. After about ten minutes I look at all the faces, they are all the same-absolutely void of emotion. Weíre all too tired to feel.

At 4:30 pm we arrive at Cottonwood Campground. We select a campsite for our two night stay, unpack our wet gear and relax.

Later Pat prepares a dinner of lentil soup followed by rice and chicken. After cleanup we sit around the candle, sip tequila and Sambuca, and talk. Weíre in our tents and to bed by nine.

Tuesday, September 16

We are all up early to a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon on tortillas.

There is a group of eight women in camp being led by a former park ranger, Denise. She stops by our camp to show us a better way to hike uphill. Itís called the rest step or the ďchips and salsaĒ step. It works and we will use it extensively.

North Kaibob Trail

Katherine has decided to stay in camp today to recover from a foot problem that developed yesterday. The rest of us head 1.5 miles down the trail to Ribbon Falls. Pat and I (and Kate Sullivan) hiked up here six miles from Phantom Ranch last year, so we were looking forward to a longer stay due to the short hike. After carrying all that weight yesterday, it feels really good to only have a day pack.

Bob & Pat at Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls is as beautiful as I remember. Today the bright sunshine is a hot contrast to the dual cascading falls of cool water that makeup Rainbow. We hangout for the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon in a shady overhang getting up every now and then to get wet and take photos. But mostly we nap and munch our snacks. Two guys who donít immediately see us and whom we later find out are John and Pat from Denver, arrive, strip off everything and get into the falls. Pat and Nancy angle for a better view.

At 1:30 we decide to start back to camp. After a short while we spy the womenís group coming over a ridge. I believe that they are coming from Upper Ribbon Falls. And as Iíve been looking for the way to get there, I decide to try it now. Pat and Nancy would like to come, but they are just about out of water.

I meet Denise going up the trail and she asks me to keep this trail a secret. Iíll think about it. After 20 minutes I crest the ridge into a ĺ mile long valley. Iím the only one here. Down below Rainbow Creek meanders amongst the Cottonwoods and Palo Verde. The trail stays high along the north side of the valley eventually leveling out about half way up the canyon. Moving through the brittle bush a Pink Grand Canyon Rattler spots me from just off the trail and he lets me know it. I only have a brief glance at him as he moves off quickly. After 45 minutes from the trail head I reach the falls. Rainbow Creek plummets 200 feet into a small pool and then another 10 feet into a larger pool. I strip and jump in. After 15 minutes of frolicking I must start my return to camp as I only have about a pint of water left.

I arrive back in camp at 4:30 and Katherine has been organizing, including the job of getting everything dried from yesterdays drench. Pat has made brownies as an afternoon appetizer for those that can eat Ďem. Later we enjoy a dinner of soup followed by spaghetti and meatballs.

Later we invite Pat and John over for cocktails and talk. Katherine is asleep first with the rest of us to bed a couple of hours later.

Wednesday, September 17

Weíre all up before dawn. Nancy has been up all night with diarrhea and Katherine is still experiencing foot problems. We decide that I will leave immediately for Phantom Ranch and try to get us a room or campsite for tonight so that Nancy and Katherine can rest before starting the climbout to Clear Creek tomorrow. Originally we had planned to hike the seven miles down to Phantom Ranch, rest and load up on water, then start up to Clear Creek camping just inside our permit area, about three more miles.

For me the hike is uneventful but hot with 100 degree plus temperatures. I arrive at Phantom at 11:45 and there are no rooms or campsites available.

While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive I have a bagel with cream cheese, summer sausage, and lemonade. After, I go outside and stick my head under a water spigot where I run into Pat from last night. I fill him in on whatís going on with our group. John and he are also trying to get a room but have been unsuccessful.

By 3:00 pm Iím getting quite worried as the girls havenít arrived, so I head back up the trail without my pack. Along the way I get disturbing information from hikers who have passed the girls. Apparently none of them are doing very well. About 2.5 miles out of Phantom we connect. Katherine who suffered foot problems earlier along the trail is doing pretty well. Pat has some minor foot problem and Nancy is exhausted. I take Nancyís pack. Good God it must weight 60 pounds. It is way too heavy.

About a mile outside of Phantom Ranch we pass Phantom Creek Canyon, it has a caution banner across the entrance. A few days ago two hikers were killed in a flash flood. Apparently when these hikers saw a four foot wall of water coming toward them they hid behind a boulder. The water took the boulder. The bodies havenít been found yet. Apparently they were swept down river, about two miles, to the Colorado. We were in this canyon last year making our way through the pools to some falls. Lesson learned, go high if you see water coming. Itís eerie to look at the mouth of this canyon.

The Clear Creek trail junction is one mile out of Phantom and we stop and leave our packs there along with Pat and Katherine. Nancy and I head into Phantom to get some water and my pack. Our plan is to start up the Clear Creek trail, go maybe a mile, hide out from the rangers, and continue to Clear Creek tomorrow. At Phantom Ranch we run into John and Pat who have secured a room for four. Nancy and Katherine will share their room while Pat and I will take the campsite. I also manage to get us four stew dinners for tonight. I head back up to the trail junction to tell Pat and Katherine and pick up Nancyís pack. Everyone is quite relieved. Arriving back at phantom there are hugs all around.

Nancy and Katherine head for the showers while Pat and I just wash a little and put on cleaner tops for dinner. After dinner, Pat and I have our showers. We then join Nancy and Katherine in the saloon. Katherine tries to decide if she wants to continue. Later Pat and I settle into the campsite and sleep out under the Hepawing and a full moon.

As I sat eating the stew dinner I thought about my stew dinner on past trips. We had always been in the back country for over a week, and we couldnít stuff the food down fast enough. I have only been down three days and already Iím feasting on fresh food. I donít have the same appreciation of the stew as years past when I had been munching on food that hardly changes texture even after cooking.

Thursday, September 18

Pat and I are up early. Pat and John stop by to say their good-byes as they are hiking out today. We thank them again. A short time later Nancy and Katherine arrive for a breakfast of oatmeal. Katherine has decided to continue with us. After packing up, filling up on water we depart Phantom at 9:00. We stop at the Clear Creek trail junction, near the Bright Angel Creek to wet our shirts, bandannas, and hats. It is already over 90 degrees.

This part of the trail is almost totally in the open and is all uphill for the next two miles. We do the ďrest stepĒ up, up, and up. We cross a small ridge and then another uphill climb where we take a rest at a stone ďbenchĒ. There is also an overlook of Phantom Ranch and the confluence of Bright Angel Creek and the Colorado River.

The womenís group returning from a dayhike from Phantom to the plateau above stops for a moment to chat. Pat, Nancy and Katherine are resting when I decide to start. This is the last time I will see Katherine.

As I climbout I run into a hiker returning from Clear Creek. He tells me we will have the place to ourselves. We are totally on our own now.

About 30 minutes after leaving the girls the trail rounds a spectacular outcropping overlooking the Colorado a thousand feet below. This is as far as Katherine will make it. I continue on alone for an hour around a large amphitheater and find a shady place to rest where I can see the trail back Ĺ mile to the outcropping. After a while I see Pat round the bend, stop, and go back. As I think that they are enjoying the overlook. I wait awhile and continue on to the next shady rest.

Pat and Nancy arrive an hour later and Iím informed that Katherine has decided to go back to Phantom. At the time she made her decision there was an electrical storm on the South Rim. That combined with the heights made her decide to turn back. The rest of us discussed this turn of events at some length. Nancy decides to go back and make sure that Katherine made it back to Phantom Ranch and if necessary out of the canyon.

Iím rounding a part of the trail that is shaped like a big bowl, the trail is about three feet wide and then drops to the Colorado river. There is a thunder storm passing east of us, and although it will miss us the noise is intimidating. I really want to get around the bowl to where Bob is as it looks safer there. Why does it always look safer where Bob is?

I can hear my sister calling me to come back, Katherine is having a problem. I drop my pack and walk back. Katherine is in trouble. There are just too many issues for her to overcome. Between the heights, width of the trail, and another thunder storm, I know she shouldnít go any farther. I remember my first canyon trip. By the second day I was dehydrated and my feet were full of blisters. I continued on but I hated the entire trip and really thought I wouldnít make it. Katherine has a justified mental fear of going farther and I encourage her to go back to Phantom Ranch. There she will have to deal with people not the elements. I take her pack and walk her back to where the trail starts down.

Nancy and I catch up to Bob. I have reservations about sending Katherine back by herself. Bob and I have one of our heated discussions about this (Nancy has adjusted to listening to these debates). I feel that if Katherine gets hurt returning to the rim we will be held responsible. An hour later Nancy volunteers to turn back and try to stay at Phantom Ranch until Bob and I return. I carry guilt from this selfless act of my sister. She turned back allowing me to try Clear Creek again and remove the bad memories from my first trip there

We try to split up the remaining group gear and food. After hugs, Nancy heads back down the trail and Pat and I continue on. Pat and I end up with no water filters and only iodine to purify our water. Additionally we have an important stove part the will prevent Nancy and Katherine from using their stove. I feel very strange, almost lonely. Weíve lost half our group.

We have a short climb and weíre up on the plateau. This is where we will spend most of the next 24 hours.

Colorado River from the Tonto

After an hour I realize that water will be very short and we donít expect to find any until we reach Clear Creek almost eight miles away tomorrow afternoon. However, after about an hour of hiking we come across some depressions in a wash that have water remaining from the rain we had on Monday. There are three shallow pools, much evaporated, swimming with tadpoles and other flora. As we donít have our filters, I remove my sweaty bandanna and use it to filter water we put into our canteens. Pat then treats it with iodine and I add some powdered Gatorade. We are quite happy to be fully provisioned with water.

A little after five we set off again. Impending darkness encourages us to make camp near a couple of car size boulders. We string a rope between the boulders so that the food can be hung away from animals. Our dinner tonight is dried fruit, nuts, and power bars. We sit relax while watching the stars come out, the Milky Way appear, and the moon rise while talking and sipping tequila. At ten we put up Pats tent to keep out the bugs and enjoy a well deserved sleep.

I love traveling on the Tonto Plateau. From the rim the plateau looks like a small shelf on the way down to the river, when actually its one of many worlds in the canyon. Camping is even better, the night sky opens up and I donít have to listen to moving water, a frequent noise in the inner canyons.

Friday, September 19

Pat and I are up at five and pack by moonlight. We want to get an early start so that we can avoid the hot sun as much as possible. For the next two hours we hike across the plateau, moving in and out of  large and small washes in the relative comfort of shade.

Pat Burr on Trail Near Clear Creek

By ten however the sun finds us as the temperature exceeds 100 degrees in the shade. We take short rests at shady opportunities.

Iím ahead of Pat and find a shady spot for lunch behind a truck sized boulder in a minor wash. I take off my pack, boots, and socks and kick back. Pat arrives after about 20 minutes and does the same. We figure weíre two miles out of Clear Creek. After an hour and a half weíre off again. By 2:00 we round a corner and head into the canyon that will take us to Clear Creek. The views are great. Finally we approach the portion of the trail that we heard was so treacherous. From here it certainly looks bad as the trail makes its way across and down a slippery talus slope to the bottom of Clear Creek canyon. We take a short break at the beginning of the slope to make sure everything is buttoned down. I start down first, followed a short ways back by Pat. We stay close, so that if one slips, the other may be able to help. The hike down was spectacular and safer than it looked.

The Tonto

Although I feel exhausted, I can remember how bad I felt on my first trip. I would hallucinate that I wasnít really on the trip, in fact at times I couldnít believe I had gotten myself into that predicament. Iím getting exhausted but it comes in waves, and I can talk myself out of bad periods. The frequent rests help.

A couple hours after turning into Clear Creek Iím trying to figure out which canyon we will go down. I can see a canyon at the end but it seems to go on too far and we would have to go around a large canyon on our left. We make a left turn and the trail down comes into site. I let out a yippee even though it is still about a half mile away. I can feel fear starting to rise when I see the trail down. However, it isnít as bad as I remember, but I have to keep my eyes on the trail when it narrows to less than a foot wide.

We arrive at the bottom, and after a short walk over to some Cottonwoods, Pat quickly sheds her pack and plops to the ground for a well earned rest. I head right for the creek and treat some water as Iím tired of drinking Gatorade mixed with pond scum.

After rest and water we take a look around. The whole area has been flash flooded sometime in the near past. Naked boulders and rocks litter the valley. Plants near the creek are flattened. However Pat finds us a good site near the creek with a large Cottonwood in the middle and several smaller trees all around. We unpack, treat more water, and have some soup with tortillas and pepperoni. We put up my tent and wash out some clothes. As we finish hanging clothes, we are hit with a thunderstorm complete with lightening, small hail, and a fifteen minute downpour. We crouch under one of the smaller trees away from the larger ones. We then move the tent slightly to avoid a pool that has formed to one side.

Pat prepares us a dinner of Teriyaki chicken. After cleanup Pat puts up her tent so that we can have roomy separate accommodations. We sip tequila and talk Ďtill 8:00 and go to a well deserved bed.

Iím shocked when we move into the camping area, trees and rock have been tossed around as if Paul Bunyon and Babe had spent a day playing here. We found only three recognizable campsites (in my last trip there were at least six good campsites). They looked fairly untouched by water, so they were safe from flooding.

After setting up the site I go through the food and find that we didnít have a good food separation. I have the outback oven and only one item I can cook in it. This means Nancy and Katherine have mostly outback oven food with no stove.

As I start the Teriyaki I listen to the canyon, one of my pastimes when Iím down here. At twilight I can hear what I would call a distant rumble, its intensified in this deep and crooked canyon. I think itís caused by the cooling of the heat on the walls of the canyon.

Saturday, September 20

Weíre up at 6:00. Force of habit. Again it looks to be a beautiful day. Pat makes us pancakes with syrup. I treat more water filling our waterbags as well as canteens.

Today we rest. Pat stays in camp, moving here and there to keep to the shade, while knitting, reading and napping. I go downstream for a couple hundred yards and find myself the perfect shady spot behind a large rock near the creek. I alternately nap and read all morning into the early afternoon. Around 2:00 I return to find that Pat has baked us an apple pie. It is delicious and I finish my half while Pat saves herself a piece for later.

We are entertained afterwards by two lizards and a small snake on our Cottonwood tree. After taking pictures of the snake we rest some more. By 4:30 the sun has gone behind the rim cooling things down considerably. We explore down the canyon for an hour or so before dark. Pat decides that she will explore further in this direction tomorrow.

Bob and I work our way along Clear Creek canyon, there are cairns along the way to help us move down canyon. I go up the confluence of the first large canyon meeting Clear Creek. This is the canyon I want to explore tomorrow. Bob goes back while I travel about a half mile up a wash. The walls narrow a little, but Iíve heard it gets very narrow further up. Iíll check this out tomorrow.

As Iím making my way back, the setting sun directly in my eyes, I hear a rattle. From the corner of my eye I can see a three foot long rattler to my right. I didnít think I could climb the opposite embankment so fast. I turn gulping air trying to calm my heart while I try to see where the snake is. It takes a few seconds, itís a pink Grand Canyon rattler and blends in with the pink rocks. It has coiled for a strike in case I was stupid enough not to move. Iím a comfortable distance away so it starts up the opposite bank. I snap a couple pictures and know Iím wearing my gaiters tomorrow.

Chicken stew is on tonightís menu and after it is cooked, Pat decides that she doesnít like it. I eat it all. While hanging our food for the night I notice a small white scorpion on our Cottonwood. Itís so wonderful to have so much wildlife around. After, we drink most of the rest of the tequila leaving us only a few sips. We talk some and head into our tents, read and go to sleep.

Sunday, September 21

Weíre up at 7:00 to a breakfast of scrambled eggs and pepperoni in tortillas. After cleanup and water treatment Pat heads out on her dayhike down canyon. I decide to explore up Clear Creek to Obi Canyon where there are supposed to be Indian ruins. In short order Iím virtually stopped at a narrow passage between sheer canyon walls choked with Cottonwood, Paloverde, and other plants. The creek has totally lost definition and is running every where. It takes me a half hour to find my way through to a point where the canyon widens to a faint trail. I have to scramble over car size boulders in one place and make several stream crossings but the canyon is beautiful. Obi Canyon is the first canyon on the left and by 11:00 Iím starting up it. Itís a short canyon, about Ĺ mile, and I follow the dry creek bed to the end. There is a 100 foot high fall sporting a trickle of water now. I begin to look for any ruins. I find a cave that goes back into the rock for 20 feet but no ruins. After some snacks for a lunch in the shade I start back. As I know the way through the narrows now the going is quick and easy.

Tonto Plateau West of Clear Creek

Itís 12:30 and Iím only back in camp for 10 minutes when Iím suprised to see Pat returning. She tells me that she also had an encounter with a rattler. After we go our separate ways to wash and relax.

I start down Clear Creek and quickly make it into the canyon I intend to explore, avoiding the cactus gardens and snake pits I stumbled through yesterday. This canyon does get narrow, at times itís about 12 feet wide with sheer walls up both sides. No where to go if there is a flash flood, but its sunny with no clouds. I go up about two or three miles, always seeing footprints only a day or so old in the mud. There was one guy in Clear Creek when we came down, these must be his foot prints. I should go to the end, but I donít. I will regret this in the future, I always do. On the way back I find a house size boulder in the shade, climb on top, eat a snack and read my book. Life is great.

Near Clear Creek

Dinner tonight is black bean with tofu. However, after looking at the freeze dried tofu we decide to leave it out. We do some prepacking, including taking down Patís tent. Tomorrow we want an early start on our return to Phantom, to avoid as much sun as possible. To that end weíre in bed early, do some reading and go to sleep.

I must have soaked that tofu for about half an hour and it still looked and felt like extra hard foam. Iíll have to talk to Bart about this, he is always talking about how good freeze dried tofu is.

Monday, September 22

Weíre up at 4:30 and pack in the dark. We start at first light and reach the top of the plateau by 7:00 as the sun comes fully into view. As we only have to go another five miles before camping at the start of the decent into Phantom we have plenty of time to stop and rest. We take a break at the same rock we stopped at one the way in. I find out that I have somehow left the rest of my snacks back in Clear Creek. Must have fallen behind a rock when I was packing. Pat shares her snacks.

My appetite has finally returned and I wanted to dive into that pepperoni. Iíll have to settle for my gorp. I must be dropping weight, Iím eating about a third of what I normally do and about 20 times the amount of exercise. Of course it will just come back when I get to the top and get my regular life back.

We arrive where we plan to camp for the night and find a nice flat area to throw our sleeping bags. We encounter our first human since last Thursday, a young many walking his way across country. He camps about ľ mile below us. As we have enough water Pat prepares a dinner of chicken in rice and pimentos in a white sauce. After dinner we hike up a long slope to look for some Indian ruins that are supposed to be around here and that Pat thinks she has spotted with her field glasses. We have to hurry as it is almost dark and we didnít bring flashlights. We donít quite make it to the top, but we see some indications of habitation.

We finish the tequila and sleep out under the stars. I have a hard time sleeping due to the presence of annoying bugs buzzing around my ears all night. Pat puts in her ear plugs.

Tuesday, September 23

I get up at 4:00, walk up the nearby wash a bit, find a comfortable place to sit and read. After watching the sunrise we have a breakfast of oatmeal and tea. We pack up and start down at 7:00 arriving at Phantom Ranch at 8:30. After the requisite bagels with creme cheese we eventually learn that Nancy and Katherine were caught by the rangers and because they didnít have a permit, had to hike out of the canyon last Friday. We find out that they have flown home when Pat places a call to Nancy in Detroit.

Our schedule calls for us to stay at the campground here for tonight and tomorrow, then up to Indian Gardens on Thursday and out on Friday. While having our bagels we learn that hurricane Nora will be bringing lots of rain to the canyon on Thursday so we decide to hike all the way out tomorrow. We make arrangements for a room here tonight along with stew dinners and a room on the South Rim for tomorrow night.

In preparation for tomorrowís hike out, we take it easy the rest of the day. When we get our room the first thing we do is enjoy a shower. Later we go to a ranger talk on Grand Canyon fossils, repack, go to dinner and hang out at the saloon before an early bed.

As we eat our bagels, we talk to one of the canteen employees to try and find out if Nancy and Katherine have reserved a room for the night. Since there is no sign of them staying for the last five days I decide to try calling Nancy at home. Iím shocked to hear her voice and she doesnít recognize mine at first. She relates the story of being asked to ďleave the canyonĒ by the park rangers. Apparently there was an hours lecture of how irresponsible we where. I guess each side had their view. Bob and I knew that Nancy was an experienced canyon hiker and could easily take care of Katherine. The rangers had no idea who Nancy was and werenít interested in listening. Of course they were willing to personally plan the ďyoung manísĒ trip through the canyon, give him an unplanned extra day at Phantom Ranch, along with giving him a ride to the trail head. I guess it depends on how interesting your agenda is.

Enough of that. After learning that Bob and I are it for the rest of the trip, we look at one another, the same thought moves across our faces, lets get out of Dodge. We have another stew dinner. I feel Iíve have worked for this one.

Wednesday, September 24

After a really good nights sleep in a real bed weíre up at 4:30 and on the trail just after 5:00 using our headlamps. We cross the Colorado and start up to Indian Gardens arriving around 11:00. After an hours rest, itís ďchips & salsaĒ until we arrive on the rim exhausted a little after 4:00.

Colorado River in Daylight

As we start up the last five miles, I start to get cranky. There are too many people on the trail. I need to think about this trip next year. Maybe I should take Bart up on his offer to check out public lands for hiking.

About two miles from the top, we are passed by a female hiker wearing shorts that leave nothing to the imagination. She is followed by a pack of guys trying desperately to keep up with the view. Iím so tired an Arnold Schwarzenegger type could walk by in the buff and Iíd just wave.

After a quick snack from the snack concession, we pick up our checked baggage, find our room, have showers and put on clean clothes. We make it to the Arizona Steak House for our traditional out-of-the-canyon dinner. Patty picks up the check to ease her quilt of losing my favorite hat.

When we get to Phoenix we try to find Bartís new apartment, I canít remember the number. He was supposed to leave a key under the mat. Bob and I spend an hour running up to second floor apartments and lifting mats. As Iím talking to my sister to see if she can remember the number Bob pulls out a business card with Bartís apartment number on it. We find Bartís place but thereís no key, so I decide to knock. Bartís still home and we scare him to death because we are two days early.

This was a hard trip physically and mentally. The mileage was 25 miles less than last year but doing seven miles down the first day was a killer. Last year we only did 3Ĺ miles on the first day, it makes a difference. Iíll have to use up all the outback oven food. Bobís birthday is during our Thanksgiving get together, I wonder if he would like an out back oven coffee cake.

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