Thursday, November 26, 2009

Travel: Witches in the Woodwork - 2

I went to Cal State Fullerton in the early 70s. I went to college because I was expected to. I was an undeclared major for my first two years. After two years, I took a semester (or two) off.

It began with a road-trip.

I had already paid my fees for the semester, but somehow a friend and I decided that driving my black '67 Fiat Sport Coupe to the East Coast to visit his home town on Long Island was a good idea. (Better than college?) It certainly was a memorable trip, even if it wasn't very smart.

One of our first destinations was a garage in Las Vegas. It seems that I had cracked an engine mount and my engine was sagging. (Falling out a bit?) I think I might have cracked it that time I accidentally got my car airborne. (Who knew that the gas station I was cutting through in a late-night car race didn't have a driveway onto the street I wanted to exit on? Off the curb I went -- into the air -- and two years it landed me in a Las Vegas repair shop.)

On the way into Vegas, we had pulled off the road, hiked into the desert and admired the night sky. It was awesome. Away from the city lights, you see things. That's what this trip was about: seeing things.

After the garage in Vegas, we headed to the Grand Canyon. Most people visit the south rim, but we were on the north rim. It's about 8,500 feet above sea level and gets snow in the winter. We there in late September, just a few weeks before the campground would close for the winter.

"What's at the Grand Canyon North Rim?

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers everything the visitor could ask for; mule rides down into the canyon to Roaring Springs, river tours, the lodge, restaurant, saloon, gift shop, deli, visitors center and campgrounds.

How far is the South Rim from the Grand Canyon North Rim?

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is only eleven miles away from the North Rim if one could fly, but by car it is 215 miles. For the avid hiker there is a grueling rim to rim trail combining the North Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail or South Kaibab Trail."

We camped for a few days, and then hiked down into the canyon for two nights. Grueling but beautiful.

Before we left we enjoyed the Lodge. "The original Grand Canyon Lodge was built in 1928 and burned down in 1932. The new lodge was built in 1937 and this time with a grand window that overlooks Bright Angel Point."

That's where I met my second set of Wiccans. They didn't actually come out of the woodwork, they were on the scenic balcony, enjoying the few. In their mid-twenties, the women were ordinary looking. But as we were co-enraptured with the beauty of the view, they mentioned that they were developing powers that enabled them to manipulate some of Nature's grandeur. The biggest accomplishment to date for these new witches? Conjuring up a small storm some weeks before. (Or so they said.)

Being open-minded -- and a bit naive -- I took this all in as if it were normal. For them it probably was.

It was just a chance encounter. I didn't see them again. The next day my friend and I loaded up our sleeping bags and day packs. We hadn't planned to do any hiking. We went any way. (We left the Fiat and tent top-side.) Here's what we did...

"The North Kaibab Trail is a strenuous, 14.5 mile one-way backpack. This is the only North Rim trail leading to the Colorado River. The trail descends beneath the rim, through the forest, for the first 5 miles, to Roaring Springs. Roaring Springs is a waterfall created by water pouring from a muav cave into Bright Angel Creek. The trail continues along Bright Angel Creek and on to Phantom Ranch."

Wiki-pedia offers some geographic clues: "Phantom Ranch's elevation is 2,550 feet; that is about 4,600 feet lower than the South Rim and about 5,800 feet lower than the North Rim."

We hiked down from the North Rim, and then, back up to the North Rim. It. was. strenuous.

More on that... another time.

PS: Back in the day, I didn't carry a camera. I didn't wear a watch. All the pictures are mental, and they are lovely.

PPS: Saving the best for last... pics of my grand-kids!