Thursday, July 3, 2008

One Grand Adventure

Just to fill you all in on the grand adventure resulting in a busted hoof (hope I didn't spoil the ending for anyone:

So to kick of the adventure, I race into work at o'dark hundred. I am packed not only for the trip but I have painstakingly organized specialized packs for each day so as to maximize organization and minimize time-loss on our adventure through the grand canyon. Setting aside a pack for the morning hike in, and the Tuesday hike back out, my little tote was up to OCD par.

Blazing out of work like the building was on fire, I make my way to the airport for my flight to Las Vegas. With my track record for missing a few flights, I was quite impressed with my arrival time, so much so I had time to enjoy a cup of coffee.

All was set. Famous last words.

With the family coursing their 5 hour drive to Las Vegas, I arrive and make my way to the baggage carousel. Still donning my work suit complete with stilettos I await my perfectly packed suitcase.

It never comes.

This is the first in a series of mishaps to the well oiled planning machine that is the Benson (Richer) family.

So after trying to explain to the extremely courteous and genuinely helpful baggage team at US Airways that I have not been sucked into the glitz and glam of the Las Vegas strip and will be trudging out another five hours by car (two of which are past any civilization and cell phone range). Although my duffel may be on the next flight, not even FedEx can unite me with my bag. The nearest village to our destination still receives their post by mule train. Ergo a bag is clearly out of the question.

So off the Benson (Richer) Fleet goes to Walmart. (Again still donning heels, pearls, and a pencil skirt. What a site)

After a quick stop at the Del Taco (see previous post on obsessive Taco disorder) we head for the rim!

Now sleeping on the south rim essentially involves a sleeping bag in a parking lot. A high note after my brother's digestive system gets ahold of the super del taco combo we had earlier that night.

After arriving and winking in about 2 hours of sleep we were rudely awoken by a small group of hiking infidels determined to wake my dear snoring aunt up. I have never been more compelled to slash tires than that moment, but since we were up at 3 I figured to let the day one hike begin.

The day one hike from the south rim to the campsite is a race against the sun. As soon as the rays hit those Indian red walls of the canyon you are hiking in blistering 110 degrees. In the shade and with water the 8 mile hike to the Supai village is manageable. Our fam has an edge on the competition though, I'm a speed Nazi trained by the Washington DC walkers (comparable to our brethren in New York) and the delightful snack packs Aunt KB packs for us. (Ziplocs filled with all the good stuff you look at in Target but never buy for fear of premature cardiac arrest: beef jerky, all flavors, cheese crackers, rice crispy treats, granola bars, and mike and ikes!)

Hitting the first sign of the stream at mile 7 we are not far from the village. Fun little story here is about 6 years ago, Ben lost his swimming trunks to the current. He will never let that story die. Bringing his GF Krista down, we of course had to share the tale with her(better than baby pictures)

At about 9:30 we finally hit the village, checked in, and met up with Aunt KB who flew in on the village helicopter. The stigma in our family about users of the village helicopter(and pack horses) is unless you are seriously injured (as my aunt is), you are a weenie and should not be allowed to enjoy the falls that we all work so hard to hike to. We let these weenies know they are not welcome by glaring. (What can I say, were not vigilantes, just smug.)

But the work is worth it, we trudge on for the final 4 miles of our day to the campsite. Although camp is only two miles, by the time you finish setting up camp you've pushed it the final two. But oh when you see Havasupi falls on your way in, the sunburn and sore thighs are worth it.

So day one a success, no injuries.

Day two, while waiting for my cousin Dani and Uncle Jeff to make their trip from the rim after squeezing an extra work day into the week, the Benson's descended on Havasupi Falls. Waba-Waba!

What a playground, between clamoring behind the falls, jumping off every rock possible, and squeezing through the toilet bowl, you would think bodily injury would ensue. Just a scraped knee from Krista on that score card. But we did notice a few changes from the last trip, the falls were more intense this year. The jump is a little hairier now, with the addition of a ladder and more moss frosting the rocks. But the upstpay is so fierce you can't really see how far up you are.

We finished out the day by the river swing and leaping from cave walls, all R and R for Sunday....Beaver Falls.

Beaver is awesome, with 3 sets of falls to jump from ranging from 10-25 feet, for our family, its what separates the men from the boys. Its a 4 mile hike from camp and requires scaling Mooney Falls, a 300 ft wall using a chain and well placed footholds. We call it the Elvis Shakes because the legs of the fearful shake so badly. Legend has it, it was named Mooney Falls after the guy who fell to his death propelling with only half the rope needed to safely come to earth from the summit.

It would be appropriate for me to fall here and retain some respect.

Ha not so.... so we continue the hike crossing the river and through the wild grapevines, snapping shots off where we could. And a mere 500 ft from our final destination ... happens. The trail narrows while a stream runs parallel to the trail about a foot below. My foot starts to slide on the clay-like mud and I hear the pops of my right foot; like rice krispies on steroids.

Pulling my feet out of the stream it is clear, I am not walking on it any time soon. As my foot swells and my tummy churns I am convinced its broken.

The irony of Dani's encouragement, walk it off, fell on deaf ears. In the Benson Clan, tears equal injury, and I wasn't crying.

The challenge: how do we get out. Dani and Grant take off to Mooney as we seem to remember a gurney on a single bike wheel secured next to the trail. After an hour of shock, Jeff, Ben and I start the piggy back tour of the canyon. By riding on their exhausted backs and crawling on my hands and bum over the rocky trail or the river crossing we made solid ground.

Dani and Grant had the foresight to replenish the water supply before bringing the gurney but that required an additional 4 miles rt up to camp and back, including a trip up Mooney. Whew!

You would have thought it was Christmas the way I shrieked at their sight with the basket. I was so relieved!

So Team Benson muscled me through the flat spots on the see-saw gurney, lifted me over the rocks, and I managed the crab walk through the river crossings.

We were met along the way by concerned hikers and villagers. Unbeknown to us, by the time we made it back to the Goliath - Mooney falls, the entire campground heard about the mishap and when the chopper scaled the cliff to retrieve me, the Supai village was standby.

The three miles from the accident glided beneath us from the helicopter while my foot continued to swell. It was quite an impressive feat!

Rather than make the full trip back to Kingman hospital, I opted to get dropped back off in the village, where I was greeted by the doctor in his Gator golf cart with off road tires.

The Rx: ace wraps, ice, and crutches. They had quite a selection of the latter: 5'3 or 6'0. Standing 5'8 I opted for the shorter of the two. I now had another 4 hours to kill while I waited for my family to return to camp and one of them to hike up to the village with a tent. Grant drew the shortest straw.

Arriving the the village, my guardian angel started to set up the tent. After 15 miles on his tires, he was clearly exhausted. As we realized we put the stakes in the wrong holes, on our tent being pitched right in the town square, we were approached by a couple informing us of the allegedly rampant tribe drug and crime incidents. They invited us to stay with them for the night. So Grant, myself and my 5'3 crutches eagerly accepted. They set us up in the village church!

I was almost as excited to see the air mattress on the cement floor as I was to see the tipsy-turvy gurney!

The next morning the family hiked out and took my second helicopter ride.

Clearly I wasn't flying back out of Vegas so it was off to mommas I went for some R & R. So much for shedding the princess title in the Benson Family!

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