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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
Sunday, September 1
Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch

Okay, so my dreamless sleep did not serve me as well as I had hoped, but what more can you ask for than to wake up next to the Colorado River deep in the Grand Canyon? As I stood to stretch, I glanced towards the water. Was this the same river I had been on just a few hours ago? Something had changed. No longer did I see a sparkling blue-green river, but a channel of chocolate milk. What had caused this tremendous change while I slept? There had been no rain, and I couldn’t imagine that a storm upstream would affect the river this much. Here in the canyon there was little soil, definitely not enough to change the entire river. After all these ideas raced through my head, I finally came up with what had happened. The river level is controlled by the folks up at the Glen Canyon Dam, and since this change in water color coincided with a drop of a few inches in the river level, I put two and two together. My guess was confirmed at breakfast when Meg and J.P. responded to our questions and comments.
The river trip continued today for a couple of hours, mostly through some really calm portions of the river. It was great to be able to look closely at the rock, most of which resembled varnished wood in appearance. Yesterday we had the chance to walk up into one of the side canyons to a waterfall, and the rock was very slick and sharp to climb on. I’m really not sure what makes the rock look that way. I found myself wishing that I had my college advisor (Dr. Martin K. Huehner) with me, for he taught a geology course I had taken during a study abroad trip to Australia back in 1999. It really just completes the picture when, in addition to all the ooohing and aaahing, you know how a particular formation came to be. At one point, Wayne wanted us to let him off the raft in order for him to film us as we went by. We decided to play a trick on him (we had been very good to him up to this point!), so we all hid ourselves on the opposite side of the luggage pile when we drifted past, so all he ended up filming was an empty boat! However, J.P. was able to motor us back upstream a bit to give him another chance. Afterwards, Wayne admitted to being a little upset with us, but he forgave us, of course!
We reached Phantom Ranch sooner than I had expected, and upon saying our goodbyes and thank yous to Meg and J.P., we headed up to the campground. I smiled to myself as we reached our camp, knowing that I had completed half of a very special journey into a spectacular place. I never had any expectations of what I would see when coming to Phantom Ranch, but two bridges spanning the width of the river would not have been on the list! I suppose if I would have given it some thought, I would have come to the conclusion that hikers and mules would not be able to cross and reach the opposite side if not for some sort of bridge. Before checking out the bridges, I headed up to the canteen to see what all the fuss was about. It had a really great atmosphere, and my first stop was the cooler full of complimentary ice cold water! As I glanced at the menu posted on the wall, I was taken aback at the steep prices. Hmmmm…beef stew for $24.00, steak for $29.00, or breakfast for the modest price of $18.00. We had box lunches reserved for us, and they were almost the cheapest item on the menu at $8.00 each. After I picked up my jaw from where it had dropped, I read the sign above the menu - “Remember, everything at Phantom Ranch comes down by mule.” I understood, and it made perfect sense. Convenience for visitors comes at a price.
Cathy and I decided to check out the souvenirs, and we were lucky enough to meet David J. Meyer, the manager of the ranch. He gave us a lot of insight into how the private operation is run. He employs about seventeen full time people, but only about eleven of them are working at any given time. The schedule is ten days on, four days off. All the employees live in small cabin-like structures located in the area. Of course we were interested in what it took to become an employee at the ranch, and David said that there is a pretty lengthy waiting list, but it is just a matter of completing an application and then sitting back to see what happens. You could get on in six months or two years. David also mentioned that they desire those who are willing to work there for at least a year. It obviously takes a person who can just pick up and leave when his or her time comes to work at the ranch, but what a job! Cathy and I looked at a couple t-shirts that were for sale and decided on one with a nice image of the canyon on it. It had been designed by David, who was also a professional photographer, so that made my decision an easy one! Each little item I buy has some significance to it, and this one was no different.
I went to check out the bridges later on, and was surprised at the great view from each one. The water was still the color of chocolate milk, and it seemed to blend into the rock around it so that it was difficult to distinguish where the water met the canyon walls. While on one of the bridges, a mule train carrying tourists meandered slowly down the trail across the river. I watched for a few minutes until I realized that if I didn’t move, thirty mules would pass within a couple feet of me on the bridge, bringing with them all the dust from the trail. I scurried out of there pretty quickly and headed over to the other bridge, which was less traveled at that moment. I became mesmerized by the sound and sight of the water far below, and it was a great way to relax and unwind before dinner (boxed lunches). Another way to unwind was to take a dip in Bright Angel Creek, which ran just outside our camp. The water had been dammed by some river rocks to create a nice pool. I picked up my boxed lunch and sorted through its contents for something that did not resemble a Power Bar in any way. Don’t get me wrong, those bars are very tasty and they certainly helped me along the trail, but after a couple dozen, they lose their appeal. I sifted through the summer sausage, pretzels, peanuts, apple, electrolyte drink mix, and other goodies and ended up eating a Power Bar-free meal. I guess I’ll need to save the remaining ones for the hike back up tomorrow.
As dusk encroached at an earlier hour than usual in the depths of the canyon, I set up my sleeping bag on the dirt and went to write a few lines in my personal journal by the creek’s edge. As I began writing, I noticed bats flying back and forth around me, and after a few minutes, I was engrossed in the bustling scene before me. Dozens of tiny bats flew within a few feet of my head, diving and swooping randomly for insects. Also preying on the invertebrate community was a nighthawk that made long, low sweeps up and down a hundred-foot section of the creek. Only moments later, a mule deer appeared on the opposite side of the creek, mostly hidden in the vegetation. Finally, right before I went to bed, a ringtail cat was spotted climbing up the canyon wall by our campsite. It is amazing to me that so many different types of creatures can co-exist with humans in such a small area. The campground down here can accommodate up to ninety people at any given time, so there has to be a significant impact on the animals in the area. Before settling in for the night, I prepared for the hike out and then became a bit paranoid about the wildlife around me. I hung my bag up in the picnic shelter and placed all my food in the metal boxes provided. As a final precaution to keep critters from running off with my belongings, I placed my pocket contents into my stuff sack from my sleeping bag and tied the bag to my wrist, hoping I would be ready to fight for my possessions if some curious ringtail cat decided to investigate!!!
for Sunday, September 1
North South Both




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

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List of All Journal Entries
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Friday, November 15
Jessica Terrell
National Trails Symposium
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Sunday, October 27
Jessica Terrell
Meeting Team North
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Saturday, October 26
Jessica Terrell
The Finals Days...
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Thursday, September 19
Jessica Terrell
An Eye-Opening Experience
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Wednesday, September 18
Jessica Terrell
Days and Days of ATV's
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Tuesday, September 17
Jessica Terrell
My "Favorite" Day
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Friday, September 6
Jessica Terrell
Tour of Glen Canyon Dam, Hatch River Expeditions, and Lee’s Ferry (Lonely Dell) and the Houseboat!!!
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Monday, September 2
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, North Kaibab Trail
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Sunday, September 1
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
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Saturday, August 31
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Day 2
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Friday, August 30
Jessica Terrell
South Rim, Grand Canyon
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Monday, August 26
Jessica Terrell
Grand Canyon Sunrise
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Sunday, August 11
Jessica Terrell
Snow Lake
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Wednesday, August 7
Jessica Terrell
Silver City, NM
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Saturday, August 3
Jessica Terrell
Location: Lake Valley, New Mexico
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Thursday, August 1
Jessica Terrell
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Wednesday, July 31
Jessica Terrell
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