American Frontiers PLIADOIBLMUSDA FSGeography Action from NGSHondaColemanCoca-Cola
Search
About
Dispatches
The Trek


The Trek

The Teams
Read bios about the team members and see photos.

Team Member Journals
Read online journals filled out by members of both Trek teams. Search by date, place and more.

Interactive and Downloadable Maps

Related Events

Trek Itinerary

Media Center



Exhibits
Lessons
Geo Action

PLIC Museum
Home

 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
Friday, August 30
South Rim, Grand Canyon
View
Team South gets pumped as they ready themselves to head down the Tanner Trail into the Grand Canyon.

Team South gets pumped as they ready themselves to head down the Tanner Trail into the Grand Canyon.
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

View
An interpretive sign tells the trekkers how far they're going to climb down. Don't forget you still have to come back up!

An interpretive sign tells the trekkers how far they're going to climb down. Don't forget you still have to come back up!
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

View
The south rim of the Grand Canyon

The south rim of the Grand Canyon
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

Some things just don’t change, like my habit of waking up early even when I have gone to bed late, such as the case was last night. Yesterday we had reason to celebrate, for it was our thirtieth day of the trip, our halfway point. The celebration consisted of margaritas, the stringing of crepe paper and chili pepper lights, party hats and blowers, and silly games, along with our usual entertainment. Kay sang both the American Frontiers Blues and the horse pack trip song, while Jake recited a poem and sang a song, too. This happened to be one of the times when we had internet access in our tech trailer, so after the celebration I checked my email, putting me in bed around midnight. Right on cue, I awoke at 5:30 a.m., ready for whatever the day held in store!
Cathy and Kay had a school program to conduct in the morning, and we all needed to be there, so we donned out lavender shirts and drove in to the Shrine of the Ages auditorium, a beautiful building that far exceeded our needs. In no time at all, Wetherbee (president of Earth Analytic, our tech providers) set up the projector and had the presentation ready to go. So where were the kids? We were wondering that same thing until they came rushing in about twenty minutes late. They had traveled in from a town in Arizona called Mesa, and they too had matching shirts, although theirs were red, white, and blue. The presentation introduced the thirty sixth graders to real experiences on public lands, educating them as to the amount and value of the land to each and every citizen. The kids in this particular program were interested in trying almost every activity that the trekkers had done to date, the most popular being the ATV’s (all terrain vehicles). After the presentation, the kids had a chance to ask some questions of all the team members, though they seemed to be a little reluctant to ask about our ventures. For the next hour after our presentation, an interpreter with the National Park Service (NPS) by the name of Russell Bader gave a talk on wildfires and forest ecology. He had to have been one of the best children’s presenters I have ever seen (aside from the naturalists I work with at the Missouri Department of Conservation). Honestly, “Ranger Rus” was quite good and he really got the kids excited, involved, and interested in the subject matter. He said it all with his facial expressions, which were filled with a sort of childlike wonder, as if he would burst if he didn’t share his knowledge.
As the program ended, many of us turned our thoughts to our hike down the Grand Canyon. We headed to one of the park’s headquarters buildings and spoke with Lon Ayers, who informed our group of the reputation of Tanner Trail, which we were to hike down in only a few hours. The trail, rated as a double black diamond (expert), was apparently not intended for first-time canyon hikers, so it was kind of ironic that the majority of our group had never even seen the canyon, much less hiked it! Regardless, we were given our permits, and after stopping at the market across the street to pick up a map, we headed back to Hull Cabin (our camping spot) to pack. We were really pressed for time since we wanted to leave camp at 3:00 p.m., and it was already 1:00 p.m. as we began to pack. I expected to be (and was) a little stressed before heading out (I was during the backpacking trip as well), and it was obvious that I was not the only one. I could feel the tension in the air, knowing it would eventually turn to excitement. I moved fast both mentally and physically, trying to remember everything I had wanted to pack into the canyon. Kay had returned earlier than our car had and she had her delicious taco soup ready for me to eat, and I definitely found the time to do have some in between my efforts to pack. By the time we loaded our gear, drove to the rim, and waited for Wayne (our National Geographic videographer), it was 4:45 p.m. when we headed down off the rim.
An immediate change was apparent as we waved goodbye to our teammates and our feet fell on the first steps of Tanner Trail. The tension of the early afternoon dissipated as quickly as did the sun’s hot rays. I was able to relax and focus on the beauty of the trail and the huge feat I was about to accomplish, a feat many desire and relatively few get the chance to make a reality. I say relatively few because we had previously been informed that the average trip to the Grand Canyon lasts an estimated twenty-one minutes. Twenty-one minutes??? How can that be? I stood at the rim for almost two hours just for sunrise and even then I couldn’t even begin comprehend what my eyes were taking in. But there I was, hiking into the canyon, thoughts racing through my brain all the while. I was grateful for the shade offered by the high canyon walls, but I was a bit concerned about reaching the Red Wall by dark, since we did get off to a late start. For a trail rated “expert”, I had expected more of a challenge, but I was surprised at the ease with which I traversed the rugged terrain. However, the trick is to imagine having to hike back up that same way, and in that light, my idea of the trail’s difficulty jumped up a few notches!
The only obstacle to our descent was a tiny rattlesnake by the trail, which attempted to warn us by “sizzling” at us (actually it was rattling - I call it sizzling because when it comes from a snake so small, it sounds like bacon sizzling!). Richard was leading our group and I fell in behind him. I heard the snake before I saw it, off the left side of the trail. When I spotted the snake, it was moving pretty quickly, and I pulled Richard aside to let him know. The group stood and watched as the snake moved under a small scrub bush and coiled itself neatly into a small bundle. It was rattling the entire time, and I wonder if we disturbed it by walking by or if it had been previously disturbed by some other creature. I know we were the only humans in the area, for Tanner Trail is not one of the more popular trails into the canyon.
We were fortunate to have our arrival at the Red Wall coincide perfectly with the setting of the sun, so I let my pack thump to the ground and sat for a few moments to watch. Before darkness settled over the camp, I took a moment to pause and reflect on the day’s events. Everything and everyone else seemed so distant, and although it is almost impossible to describe, I felt like I had been swallowed by the earth itself, with the rim of the canyon blocking much of the sky above. When the last light had faded and I was snuggled into my sleeping bag, I looked up at the sky and at that moment I could have been anywhere. Time had no meaning, and I was alone with the stars, the hard rock beneath my back, and my thoughts. My “trance” was interrupted by the sound of a voice, and I heard “You little b*st*rd!” Jan apparently had inadvertently camped within the territory of some unforgiving ants…
for Friday, August 30
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
LM-jessicahorse04-08.jpg

   >> more...



List of All Journal Entries
•
Friday, November 15
Jessica Terrell
National Trails Symposium
   >> more...

•
Sunday, October 27
Jessica Terrell
Meeting Team North
   >> more...

•
Saturday, October 26
Jessica Terrell
The Finals Days...
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 19
Jessica Terrell
An Eye-Opening Experience
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 18
Jessica Terrell
Days and Days of ATV's
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 17
Jessica Terrell
My "Favorite" Day
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 6
Jessica Terrell
Tour of Glen Canyon Dam, Hatch River Expeditions, and Lee’s Ferry (Lonely Dell) and the Houseboat!!!
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 2
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, North Kaibab Trail
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 1
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 31
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Day 2
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 30
Jessica Terrell
South Rim, Grand Canyon
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 26
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Sunrise
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 11
Jessica Terrell
Snow Lake
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 7
Jessica Terrell
Silver City, NM
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 3
Jessica Terrell
Location: Lake Valley, New Mexico
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 1
Jessica Terrell
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, July 31
Jessica Terrell
   >> more...








TOP





All material copyright ©2002 - 2017, Public Lands Interpretive Association except photographs where ownership is otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.