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Jerome

We spent our final day in Arizona in an old mining town called Jerome. At the beginning of the last century it was a very prosperous town producing copper, zinc, silver and gold in large quantities. The industry has practically gone and the towns population dwindled. Now it is a protected historical interest. Being perched on the side of the mountains it has awesome views of the mountains in which Sedona nestles to the north. Initially we toured the local mining museum which was fascinating. I particularly liked the 3D models of tunnels and underground faults/ore veins. The museum occupied a former mine owners residence and included a 100+ year old piano which Ben and Sam were allowed to play.

Later we wondered around the town shops, many of which were art galleries followed by an early lunch at the “Haunted Hamburger”. Great burgers. Great view.

Before returning to our lodging we stopped off at a local vineyard for tasting and picking up gifts.

Right now we’re sitting in the airport waiting for our plane. There is a good and free (a surprise these days) internet connection so I’m able to blog.

As an aside, I decided to buy a Magic Jack which will enable us to have a US phone number while we’re off on our travels.



In & Out

Sorry for the short message last time but we’ve been largely out of contact since then.

Big, big thanks to Liam & Jo for their fantastic instruction over 10 days.  As mentioned, the entire class passed.  After we were let out about a dozen of us headed into Flagstaff where we had a Thai lunch.  A very nice one at that. I have added a few final pics to our photo set (see earlier post with slide show)

After lunch we picked up a few items and, after dropping off one of the other ‘WFRers’ back at the campsite we drove to the rim of the Grand Canyon.  We took a walk along the rim top to catch the sunset then headed back to our room to get ready for our hike. When sorting out the food for the meals we needed we realized we had a little too much so some was left behind. Once finished, we ate some of our spare food on the wall at the rim.

The following morning was an early start. Alarms went off at 4:30 and we got ourselves ready for the 5am bus to take us to the South Kaibab trailhead. By 5:25 we were heading down into the canyon. This trail follows a ridgeline and has no place to stop over so it’s best to go down. By being on a ridge the views were spectacular. About an hour into our walk we stopped on an outcrop and ate breakfast while the sun rose.

The hike down was quite tiring but not as bad as it was for a few folks we passed who were hiking up. Not sure if they realized how exposed they would be but some looked pretty worn out. As we passed people, particularly those sat down looking exhausted, we asked them in they were ok, ready to dive in and do our WFR act if they were not. Fortunately we weren’t called up.

By 9am we were in the campsite at the canyon bottom. We found a site we liked and set up our tents. We were all quite tired so the morning comprised sleeping and ready followed by lunch around 11am. Lunch finished us off so a bit more dozing was required. We were both tired from the walk as well as the heat which was up in the 100s (F). We were camped right on the Bright Angle creek so we were able to bathe/wash albeit in pretty cold water. In the afternoon we walked to the Phantom ranch for coffee. Afterwards Helen and I took a walkabout and ended up walking the river trail which involved crossing both of the foot bridges across the Colorado River.

One of the main annoyances were the flies which were everywhere and had a tendency to bite. The flies were replaced by bats at dusk which offered us some relief although Sam was worried a bat might fly into him. He was ok in the end. As night fell we all took an early sleep. We’re not used to camping so we all found the ground bumpy and slept fitfully.

Another early morning had us up accompanied by more bats than the previous evening. At 5am we had a cooked breakfast at Phantom Ranch before returning to the campsite to pack up. It was not until 6:30 until we were off – one of the last groups to leave the campsite. The hike to Indian Garden camp ground, about 2/5 of the way up was fairly straight forward and we were there in what seemed no time. I walked this route back in 1984 and remember little of it. The last time I walked down and up in a day so the way down was dark and the way up we were already exhausted so that may explain the memory lapse.

This campsite was a little cooler than the first being at a slightly higher elevation. After we set camp Ben and Sam wandered off and found a little oasis in the stream and even walked out to Plateau Point before returning very quickly to avoid the midday heat.

Lunch was the same as the previous day as it was the packed lunch from Phantom Ranch. The afternoon was lazy followed by dinner at around 4:30am. After dinner we all hiked out to Plateau Point to watch the sunset. This was indescribable. All I can say is that the location places you in the center of the canyon with awesome views all around and 180 degree views of the river 1,500 feet below. Throw in a world class sunset and maybe you can begin to understand how it looked.

The second night was more uncomfortable than our first. We overslept a little and by the time we were packed we were the last ones out of camp. That being said we acquitted ourselves well on the final 3,000 foot climb. Ben and Sam made it up in two hours and Helen and I followed 30 mins later. Not bad considering the gear we were carrying and the lack of preparation.

Back on the road before 10am we headed off to Cottonwood for our final two nights. We heard nearby Jerome is quite nice. We’ve got a pretty nice Best Western room, in fact two rooms, for a very good price. Right now we’re all just crashing. While we do so, here is a vid and some pics.


YouTube Preview Image


Exhausted

Just to get the record straight, getting to the top of Humphries Peak, the highest point in Arizona, was Ben’s idea.  We could see the peak each day from our classroom and he wanted to stand on top of it.  That being said the rest of us wanted to go so that got us going.

This morning we woke up extra early and started breakfast at 6am.  We were on our way by 6:30am and arrived at the trailhead by 7am.  The trailhead is at over 9,000 feet and the one way trip 4.5 miles with a 3,300 feet rise in elevation.  While light, we were not in sunlight when we began our trek.  Very quickly we realized the altitude was going to make this difficult.  We are all soon feeling a little woozy and experiencing headaches.  We soldiered on ignoring the lessons recently learned which was to go back down.  We did slow down our pace and took it very easy.

On the way up we met four people from our course.  The first was Don who had hiked up and ‘camped’ under a tarp the previous evening and had caught sunrise from the top.  Close to the top we met a group of three.  At this point the winds were quite brisk and very cold.  Fortunately, at the top windbreaks had been built from rocks so we were able to sit in these and shelter from the wind while warming up and eating snacks and drinking water.  The views were better than anticipated and we were all pleased we’d made the effort to get up there.  Our original estimates were three hours up and two down.  It actually took us four and a half hours to get up due to the difficulty of climbing at that altitude.  We figured we’d make up on the way down but were wrong again.  The descent went on forever and seemed a lot longer than the way up.  Ben reckoned we must have been spaced out on the way up which made it feel shorted.

We eventually got back to the car by 2:30pm, much later than our anticipated noon.  We stuck to our plan and drove to meteor crater.  It was great to see but we were less than impressed with the exhibits as the science was a bit inaccurate to say the least.  We didn’t stay long as we were all quite fatigued from our earlier exertions and I developed a severe headache – a sure sign of altitude sickness.

So here are a few pics from today’s day off :



I’ve also uploaded some pics from our WFR training. Enjoy.



Arizona – Sedona

We were off by 4:30 this morning. The roads around New Brunswick don’t agree with my old GPS map so we made a few wrong turns eating up some of our contingency. This and the fact we took the bus to the wrong terminal were the only remarkable items during flight to Arizona. Having picked up our car from the airport we decided to drive to Flagstaff via Sedona. We stopped off at a few sights to take pics as well as taking a short hike to “Devil’s Bridge”. Further along the way we took a look at “Slide Rock State Park” in case we want to visit on the way back from the Grand Canyon.

The hotel we’re staying in, Drury Inn, is superb. For $110 all four of share a room. We get free internet, breakfast and those of us over 21 get three free drinks between 5:30 and 7pm. It’s just gone 5:30 so we’re heading down. Here’s some pics to keep you amused.