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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Dadwolf and Seldomseen take on the Government (Shutdown)

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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Joined: 09/18/2006

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Posted: 10/11/13 05:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Back in the spring I invited another RV.net member on my annual fall backpacking trip, using the North Bass trail to reach the bottom of Grand Canyon. Mike (Dadwolf on the forum) agreed, despite having no backpacking experience. By the end of the week that particular item was checked off Mike's "to do" list.

Mike and I met at the North Rim Country store on the 30th of September, as we still needed to drive miles on both Forest Service and National Park backroads to reach the trailhead. The plan was to boondock that evening in the National Forest just outside the Park to get an early start to the trailhead. Here is Mike doing his "Whazoo" imitation that evening.

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I had been hearing rumors about the impending government shutdown, including the likely closure of the Park. My permit started on October 1st, which coincided with the date of the new fiscal year, and I was rightfully concerned the knuckleheads in Washington would not reach a deal in time.

Plans called for hiking the upper section of the North Bass trail the day before we were due to drop into the Canyon, and then spending the night at the trailhead to ensure an early start the next day. I was counting on the remoteness of our location to give us a little extra time before a Park Ranger showed up and told us to leave. As it turned out, we just missed them.

After a restful night just outside the Park boundary we drove the 8 miles to Swamp Point, arriving reasonably early on the morning of the 1st. We wasted no time heading out for the day hike, carrying extra water to cache for the trip out. As it happened, a very wet late summer had water flowing just about everywhere, something Mike was quick to point out on multiple occasions.

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The weather was drop dead gorgeous, and remained so for the entire week. Our day hike took us all the way to the top of the Redwall, covering a distance of 8 miles round trip and a 4800 foot elevation gain/loss. I'm not sure what Mike's expectations were before the trip, but I'm pretty sure our little excursion made him just a bit wide eyed about the upcoming trip.

We returned late that afternoon to find a notice flapping from under the windshield wipers of the trucks.

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My first thought was that I was glad we had gone hiking and missed the individual who made the long trek out to Swamp Point to place the notice. My second thought was "just try and stop me". I was amused that we had until 6:00 p.m. on Thursday to leave, since that would have been our second day in the Canyon.

The insanity of the shutdown and the utterly unreasonable expectations that anyone whose trip was already in progress would just pack up and leave made me more determined than ever to go. Mike was willing to be my accomplice in defying the shutdown, so we resolved we would continue with our plan. I mean, if you've come this far, why stop now?

The peace and solitude of Swamp Point along with the days exertions allowed for a restful night.

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The next morning we hoisted our heavy packs and began the trek into the depths. Here is Mike looking as clean and pretty as he would for the next 5 days.

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We both had a good laugh at this poster at the trailhead. We figured since neither of us looked like this guy we would be o.k.

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The North Bass trail is 14 miles from rim to river, losing the majority of its elevation in the first 5 miles. There are extended stretches where the trail is literally the bed of White's Creek, with lots of boulder hopping and bushwhacking through dense riparian vegetation.

Here's a sampling of the scenery.

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The "Teddy Roosevelt" cabin at Muav Saddle. Apparently Teddy never slept here, but he did stay at a camp nearby while hunting cougar.

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After walking the same 4 miles as we did the day before, only this time with a heavy pack, I was surprised that Mike was willing to continue through the descent of the Redwall, one of the more formidable barriers in the Canyon.

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Mike took the steep, loose descent of the Redwall to heart, and for the rest of the trip I think it was weighing on his mind, at least a little bit. Knowing how the Canyon can make people feel very small and insignificant, I did my best to encourage him with the following:

Me: Hey Mike, did you know the Chinese say the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time?

Mike: Why would I want to eat an elephant?

Me: It's a metaphor - you know, the Redwall is the elephant. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you'll get out.

I can tell by the way Mike is looking at me that my 10 second motivational speech has done nothing to ally his concern about getting out of this place alive.

After the Redwall, we follow the creek for a while before finding a most agreeable streamside camp.

[image]

We deploy our gear and hang our food to keep the rodents away, and settle in. The trickle of the creek helps me sleep, although I usually toss and turn for the first few nights. Because Mike deals with plumbing issues in his job, he tells me the sound of running water makes him think there's a leak somewhere he's got to fix.

The next morning we are barely out of our tents before a group of hikers come barreling through camp on their way out. They are surprised to see us, asking if we know the Canyon is closed. We play dumb (easy enough for me to do) and claim no knowledge of such weighty news. They look surprised when we show no apparent signs of packing up and following their lead, but continue on their merry way. They are the last people we will see in the next 4 days.

Once again Mike impresses me, since most people show signs of significant bodily trauma on the morning after their first backpacking trip in the Canyon. Not only does he not hobble about like others I've seen, he cheerfully swings his pack onto his back and follows me as we tackle the next leg of the journey.

[image]

Below the Redwall, the trail follows the creek bed for several miles. While the elevation does not change significantly, much attention needs to be given to where the trail climbs in and out of the stream, and negotiating the boulder strewn channel and sometimes dense thickets of willow, locust, and catclaw.

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After what seems like forever, the path climbs out onto the Tonto Platform, a nearly contiguous bench above the Tapeats sandstone that allows for the majority of cross country travel in the Canyon.

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A few more miles pass before the trail makes a sudden descent towards Shinumo Creek, our base camp destination. The ribbon of green along the perennial stream is a welcome sight.

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This last mile of trail winds steeply down the rocky cliff shown here, with lots of exposure and loose rock.

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We are both glad to reach the place where we will spend the next 2 nights, and find a suitable campsite where a cliff provides shade from the midday sun.

[image]

Once again the sound of water provides great white noise for sleeping, unless of course you're Mike and think there's a broken sprinkler head somewhere.

[image]

Mike has stated that one of his goals (aside from living to tell the story to his grandchildren) is reach the Colorado River. Fortunately it is only 2 miles downstream, and we have a spare day to fill. So the next morning off we go, crossing Shinumo Creek multiple times enroute. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit Mike was the only one who managed to do this with dry feet.

[image]

Along the way we pass the remnants of Bass Camp, where the pioneer William Wallace Bass hosted guests as one of the first entrepreneurs to value the Canyon for tourism. A motley collection of slowly rusting metal is all that remains to tell the story.

[image]

I told Mike the next time the topic of 12 volt coffee makers comes up on RV.Net I'm gonna post this picture in response.

[image]

Of course reaching the river is not as simple as walking downstream, no sir, not in this Canyon. There's one more hill to climb (about 700 feet) and descend, and when I ask Mike if he wants to go "touch" the river as opposed to just looking at it I sense just little bit of hesitation..... But like the good sport he's been all along, he agrees to make the effort.

[image]

We make the final steps down to the deserted beach, while I marvel at the lack of people and boats on the river (thank you, government shutdown).

[image]

Mikes first reward for hiking down to the River:

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On the way back to camp, I had spotted a plunge pool that looked very inviting, especially since it had been some days since my last shower. Despite the lack of sun and relatively cold water, I took a bath (well, more like a rinse).

[image]

Mikes second reward for making the hike to the river - a nice long nap.

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The rest of the day went by too quickly, and the next morning it was time to saddle up and do it all again - in reverse.

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Taking a well deserved break on the way out.

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One last rest stop before the final climb.

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We emerged from the Canyon after 5 days and 4 nights, a little tired but much richer for the experience.

The best part about it was that I had taken some advice offered by Whazoo last year and decided to ask another RV.Net member if he wanted to do something fun.

Mike turned out to be a most agreeable companion, and he impressed the snot out of me by doing one of the more challenging trails in the Grand Canyon for his very first backpacking trip. And though he may have had some reservations about the difficulty, he went ahead and did it anyway with grace and equanimity. Way to go, Mike.

So, in the interest of paying it forward, like Whazoo said - take a chance and invite someone on the forum to go somewhere and have some fun. I bet you'll be glad you did!

[image]

Happy Trails!


The Road Goes Ever On



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LabMan1945

North Central Maine - God's Country

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Posted: 10/11/13 06:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Way to go Seldomseen! I'd like to make more comments but would be banned for "politicizing". Excellent report. Thanks!
Grant


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Budster

Nampa, Idaho

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Posted: 10/11/13 06:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great trip report! Glad you made it there and back with no injuries. Good job on ignoring that annoying note on your windshield.

Lakelady48

Vermont

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Posted: 10/11/13 06:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like an excellent trip and you have some beautiful photos to prove it! Glad you didn't let a little government shutdown spoil your week.


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Reelescape1

Charleston

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Posted: 10/11/13 06:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report and glad someone has the balzz to do this!

Scott16

Planing to buy. Research in progress

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Posted: 10/11/13 06:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the great trip report, and having no injuries.
I am sure glad you forgot about that note on your windshield!
Scott


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Desertboy

Oklahoma/ And Northern Arizona

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Posted: 10/11/13 07:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hats off to you Both, I definitely envy the 2 of you guys. That's probably the Best trip Report I've seen IMO , Because I'm Obsessed with the G Canyon after only seeing it from the South Rim. Ive been working to get myself in shape for a hike like this. Thanks so much.


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67avion

Carbondale, Illinois

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Posted: 10/11/13 07:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm reading this inspiring trip report camping on a moon lit Ohio
River. We passed several signs stating that the government had closed the Shawnee National Forest, but here we are....

Many thanks to Seldom Seen and the spirit of Whazoo.

Great trip report. Great American Attitude.





Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 10/11/13 07:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Whoooeeee! I got tired just looking at your pictures. What an adventure!

As to inviting and being invited, I've done one or the other three times now. Results were good.


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Buzzcut1

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Posted: 10/11/13 07:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

awesome trip and photos

George Hayduke would be proud of you two.

* This post was edited 10/11/13 08:02pm by Buzzcut1 *


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