a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Walking Into A Big Hole In The Ground

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Walking Into A Big Hole In The Ground

SUMMARY: I can do it; really I can.

I have this list. I've had this list for many, many years. It's all the things I want to do or see before I go on to the great parking lot in the sky. Oops, dang, now there's a movie about it, and this kind of list actually has a name, and it's called a "Bucket List." (Things to do before you kick the bucket.) Who knew?

"Hike into the Grand Canyon" is one of the list items. (I have always assumed that Hike Out Of The Grand Canyon is also on the list, but I suppose that's icing on the cake. There's always horses. At $150 a ride.)

Last fall, a friend an I actually made reservations for this coming May at the lodge at Havasu Falls. It's just a little wee hop of a hike. Don't let the bright red "Strenuous!" label on the page fool you. What's 10 miles, anyway? 19 miles of it straight down the side of a cliff and and 35 along the bottom of a never-ending canyon, but really, it's nothing.

If I only were walking 1-1.5 miles daily as I did for so many years until my knee crapped out on me last year and then I also lost Jake, who was a good dog for walking with, and left me with TIKA THE WALKHOUND FROM HADES. Here you see how much fun we're both having while I try to photograph flowers on a little stroll down the path along the local river, which has a vertical change of elevation of about 0.3 inches on a bad day. You should see how much more fun we both have when another dog walks by within 35 miles.

She will not be going to Havasu Falls with us.

But I also made this ToDoList back before I owned any kind of camera except the sort that you stick in your pocket and it's fine until you actually want to take a picture. Like, say, of an Ovis canadensis nelsoni at a quarter of a mile and you wish you had a real telephoto lens.

But now I have multitudes of SLR cameras (approximately two) with hundreds of lenses to complement them (at least 3, certainly less than 4). And as you can see, taking photos as I hike (or as I do just about anything, for that matter) is just as important as actually DOING the thing. Maybe moreso. Sorting them afterwards? Well, sort of liking walking out of the canyon, that's also icing on the cake--the point is that I TOOK the photos. Right? Am I right?

So not only do I have to get myself and 3 days of water and clothing down into the canyon, plus lunch (and sunscreen), I have to carry 40 pounds of camera equipment or I will feel NAKED. (Although I guess I probably don't need to take all two tripods.)

Anyway, the point is, I'm trying to get out and walk a whole lot more to get in shape for this lifetime dream, and I'm not doing it really well, (although perhaps better than I have for a while), and my excuse is always, "because the dogs need the exercise and stimulation as much as I do, but I can't deal with Tika today, so I guess I'll sit at home instead."

And, oh, by the way, on this list (which takes up several pages), the only mention of dogs is one question buried at the end under "miscellaneous," which is: "Where do dogs fit into all this?" You might guess that this was before Remington, Jake, Tika, Boost, and dog agility in general. Back when I wasn't sure whether dogs fit into it anywhere. Look at me now. Who knew?

(P.S. Thanks, Steph, for the photo. Note the stylish backwards baseball cap. I wear it to keep the sun out of my eyes. But pressing a camera against my face works just about as well and it would bump against the front of the cap, so my official photographer cap is backwards.)


  1. You'll LOVE this hike!! I've hiked down the canyon and back in one day! It's wonderful going down (of course!) but be sure to take several breaks on the way up. We basically sat down after every other switchback (we started at the Bright Angel trail) which helped us to pace ourselves. Also be sure to have plenty of water...the rangers actually check and will send you back if you don't have enough.

    Now I'll have to dig out my old pics of me dipping my feet in the Colorado River! :)

    You'll love it!!

  2. We went here like about 15 years ago and hiked all the way down to a campground on the river, past the village. It was really really beautiful and cool.

    There were a lot of bored, reggae listening Indian kids everywhere that wanted to smoke pot. The actual hike part, involved some sitting on the trail and crying from me.

    The hike back up was near my birthday, and Gary got me the best present I believe I have ever gotten that year. The gift of a mule to take our backpacks back up on it's back instead of ours. I think it still involved much sitting on the trail and crying. If they still rent mules to take backpacks up, I would say bring some extra money and treat yourself to the gift of a mule!

  3. OK, I'll be prepared for the mule emergency backup.

    This particular hike is definitely not a one-day-down-and-back trip, not with the 8+ miles total from the rim to the village, and another 2+ miles to the falls themselves. We're planning on spending 2 nights. And, hopefully, the backpacks won't have all that much in them.