Added 22 December 2007
Tuesday, 9 October 2007, Grand Canyon
We rolled out of the tent at around 6:30, more ready to meet the day than expected considering we had a rough night of little sleep due to my stomach feeling really bad. Although I had a fair amount of exploring in mind for the day, since it was a layover day, we spent the first part of the morning in a fairly leisurely fashion. It was nine o'clock before we left camp for a hike down the creek to Hermit Rapids, some 1.5 miles away.
We took our time on the hike, which followed a fairly well established trail, often stopping to marvel at the wonderful geology of Hermit Canyon.
We reached Hermit Rapids at around 10:30 and sat around simply enjoying the view, hoping to see some river rafters come by and run the rapid. In the meantime, the women found a nice boulder to sit on for some "girl talk" while I studied the rocks and Steve, being the wild and crazy guy that he is, went for a bracing (albeit brief) swim in the cold waters of the Colorado River. Because the water for the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is supplied from the base of a dam, it is about 47 degrees fahrenheit year-round. Steve dove in several times, much to my amazement.
Since I had a strong desire to explore the portion of Hermit Canyon upstream from camp, I decided to have an early lunch at the river then head back up canyon. The group decided to do the same. We didn't stop much on the hike back and made the return trip in 45 minutes.
Steve, Tina and Marisa went for a swim to clean off. I puttered around camp for a little while before announcing my intention to hike up the canyon, an invitation that only Steve accepted. We moved up the canyon slowly, picking our way up the creek instead of following the path that others had made alongside the creek. As a result, we didn't make it as far upstream as we otherwise could have. It was a decision that I don't regret, although it pained me greatly when it came time for to force myself to turn around despite a massive desire to find what was 'around the bend'.
At around three o'clock, Steve decided to turn around. I wasn't ready to head back to camp yet, so I continued up canyon for another 30 minutes or so. I still didn't want to turn around, but I knew that Shan would not only be worried if I stayed out too long, she would also be getting hungry for dinner. Still, it wasn't easy to turn myself around, and there was a long pause as I looked eagerly up the canyon imagining the untold wonders awaiting there.
After a quick snack by a waterfall I headed home, largely staying out of the creek to make better time. Once again I was greeted by a hungry wife upon entering camp. I wanted to bathe a little before the day cooled off too much, but helped get dinner going before finding a nice pool to clean up in.
After dinner, we all sat around chatting for a bit, then I went down to my spot on the creek to filter enough water for the following day. It was wonderful to just sit by the creek for a while. I don't know why I love it so much, but I'm rarely more contented than while filtering water in the back country. Almost before I was even done filtering, everyone started turning in for bed, even earlier than Monday night! So I stayed at camp long enough to tuck Shan in then took my camera, notebook and field guide for another little excursion up canyon. This time I opted to stay down close to the creek and see what kind of night life I could find, since my travel companions were providing none.
I slinked up the creek, peering into pools, getting down to look under overhangs for the creatures of the night. I found a few small fish at first, but not much else, so I watched the fish. Then I found a few canyon tree frogs (Hyla arenicolor) further up the creek, and watched them for a while as well. Near one particularly sedentary frog, I decided to lay down on the bedrock along the streamside, largely just to relax and enjoy a perfect evening, but also to see if, without me watching, the frog would move. After laying around for perhaps an hour or so, my froggy friend was right where I first found him. I don't know if it is because they are "sit and wait" hunters or if he somehow sensed that I was still nearby, even if out of sight. Though still not especially tired, I decided to head back to camp and go to bed at around 11 o'clock.
I got up sometime after midnight, and as I got out of the tent I inadvertently scared a few ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) out of the tree right next to our tent. I wished they had been bolder, as I would have loved to have watched them for a while.