Posts Tagged ‘grand canyon

27
Feb
19

Celebrating a Century of the Wondrous Abyss

My sister was moving to Las Vegas and my aunt, my dogs and I were helping move her from Michigan to her new home. Since none of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon, we made it a point to stop on our last day of travel. This was just the first of a number of times that this Midwestern girl has visited the abyss.

Standing on the edge of a precipice looking down onto layers upon layers of color, it was hard for me to comprehend those that described the Grand Canyon as “Eh, wasn’t impressed, it’s just a big hole in the ground.” or “Not sure why I would go back, I’ve seen it once, don’t need to see it again.” On my first visit to the great canyon in April of 2008, I was 30 years old, I could have sat on that edge until the sun went down and remained there until the sun peeked over the rim. I was in awe.

Mira enjoying the breeze on the South Rim in April of 2008

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Yukon as Bark Ranger on the South Rim in April of 2008

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Upon his first visit to the canyon in 1903, Theodore Roosevelt had similar feelings, stating:

“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison-beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world.  Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness.”

Shortly after (11/28/1906), the then president established the area he found so beautiful as the Grand Canyon Game Preserve.  Thanks to the Antiquities Act of 1906, Roosevelt was able to redesignate the canyon and the land surrounding it as a national monument on January 11, 1908.  In a further effort to protect this area of unparalleled beauty and splendor, President Woodrow Wilson again changed the canyon’s designation, making it the country’s 17th national park 100 years ago today on February 26, 1919.

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It took 8 years for me to return to the park, this time Mira and I making the trip down from Utah onto the North Rim.  We wound our way up in elevation, the landscape quickly changing from desert to alpine, huge Ponderosa pines towering over us, mule deer and turkeys roaming the road side.  It was a stark contrast from the hustle and bustle of the South Rim, hardly a person in the viewpoint parking lots despite equally majestic views.  The cool quiet enveloped us as Mira and I sat and looked out over the endless colorful towers and buttes.

After walking the quiet Bridle Trail (the only dog friendly trail on the North Rim) down to the North Kaibab trailhead, Mira and I went to find our campsite in the Kaibab National Forest, overlooking Marble Canyon and the Marble Plateau.  It was windy, the temperatures dropped below freezing and I had to zip Mira up into my down jacket, but we woke to a beautiful sunrise with nobody else around which made a little bit of suffering all worthwhile.

Mira and Me at Point Imperial – we had a great conversation with a German couple who then offered to take our photo.

Point Imperial Panorama

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Nice short hike on the Bridle Path

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Campsite on the edge – Kaibab National Forest

Looking out over the Marble Plateau

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Fast forward to spring of 2012, I again found myself staring out over the layered landscape.  Camping at Mather, the site was frequented by mischievous ravens and elk bedded down at the back of the site.  The next morning I woke before dawn to catch a bus to the trailhead of the South Kaibab trail.  I’d be taking my first trip below the rim, hiking down to Ooh Aah Point and back.  It was like a different world as a I traversed the rocky trail.  Standing and looking out from Ooh Aah Point, I knew I needed to return and traverse the canyon from the North to the South Rim.

Mira is always a hit with tourists at the South Rim (which for a national park is exceptionally dog friendly).  Such a little ham!

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Hiking down the South Kaibab Trail, its openness allows for some pretty spectacular views!

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Amazingly, I was able to convince my friend and coworker Amy to tackle a multi day Rim to Rim trip despite the fact that she’d never been backpacking in her life.  We nervously submitted our multiple itineraries in May of 2018 for a trip in September.  A couple of days later I opened my email to find out we’d drawn our first choice itinerary and that we’d be spending a night at Cottonwood Campground and another night at Bright Angel Campground before making the arduous journey out to the Bright Angel Trailhead.

Throughout the summer we trained with our packs, scrutinized our meal plans and got one backpacking trip under Amy’s belt.  We flew out to Las Vegas on September 13th arriving at my sisters late that night.  My sister followed us to the South Rim in a separate car, picking us up at the Backcountry Office parking lot where we dropped off our rental.

After visiting a few viewpoints, we started the long journey to the North Rim where we’d camp for the night before Amy and I started our voyage across the canyon.  We arrived after dark, my sister starting the fire and Amy and I setting up the tent.  We cooked over the fire under those towering pines, drinking in the crisp, high elevation air before we retired to the tent.  Sleep came hard, the excitement of the impending journey akin to what a 5 year old feels on Christmas Eve.

Amy, Me and Melissa (my sister at the South Rim)

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Dusk on 89A, heading toward the turnoff to the North Rim

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Melissa roasting marshmallows  and cooking dinner before bed.

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After a few photos and a goodbye hug from my sister, we started our hike at 6:40 AM, the temperature hovering just above freezing.  Over the next two days we descended into the canyon the temperature and scenery changing with the elevation.  After spending a night at the bottom we arose at 2:45 AM to start the strenuous hike out.  Looking down from the rim, one only sees desert, but the many folds of the canyon hide an oasis.  There hanging gardens on rock walls with beautiful orange flowers, bees buzzing back and forth, puddles in the middle of a muddy trail filled with tadpoles wriggling around in the morning sun and several alcoves with cascading waterfalls.  It took us about 10 hours to complete the 10 mile hike out and to the parking lot, it was physically and mentally grueling for us flatlanders, the last 3 miles feeling like an eternity.  But a few short days after we climbed out of the chasm, we were already talking about which route we’d try next time.

Amy and I at the start of our hike – the North Kaibab Trailhead

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Campsite at Cottonwood campground, our first night in the canyon.

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Amy waving up from the bottom of glorious Ribbon Falls

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Bright Angel Creek and Bright Angel Campground

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Amy looking down at the Devil’s Corkscrew that we just hiked up.

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A little waterfall cascading into a pool in a small alcove along Bright Angel Trail

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Looking back from where we had come, getting close to Jacob’s Ladder, the most difficult part of the day!

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Nearing the top, hiking behind a group of guys we had befriended on the way up.

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We made it, despite shredded feet, sore knees and sunburned lips!

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I feel so fortunate to have visited the canyon as many times as I have in my 41 years.  I dream of more excursions exploring the inner canyon and lingering on the rim, feeling like a raven with the wind blowing on my face.  I’m so thankful that our forefathers had the foresight to protect this wondrous place, that it’s not a private playground for the rich with the entire rim crowded by huge vacation homes.  As Roosevelt said, “The ages have been at work upon it, and man can only mar it.

 

 

28
Jun
17

Just a Dog

Six months ago today, I sat nervously in an emergency vet exam room, exhausted emotionally and physically, waiting to hear the fate of my dear 11 year old Australian Shepherd Mira.  We were at my parents, visiting for Christmas, when she began refusing food and vomiting but still playing with the other dogs and acting fairly chipper.  I shrugged it off for a day thinking that she just had a bug and would be fine, in fact she seemed to improve the following day.  The next morning I woke to her laying under the hide-a-bed vomiting and knew it was time to take action.  

Since I was three hours away from home, I tried getting her into my parents’ vet, but they had no availability.  I’m not much for crying but I was struggling to keep it together.  I ended up getting her into my boyfriend’s vet, still 2 hours away but closer than my own.  They checked her out, X-rayed her abdomen and didn’t find anything concerning, what a relief!  A shot of Cerenia to keep the nausea at bay and we were on on our way.

Sick little dog – waiting to be checked out

She seemed to perk up a little bit after that but as the afternoon progressed she started vomiting again and by the time I got home, my stoic little dog was leaning against the wall moaning.  I rushed her to the emergency vet near my house where they quickly brought her back to an exam room.  While the vet reviewed the X Rays with me, my heart dropped.  There was a visible blockage a short way into her small intestine.  My old girl needed surgery.  As the realization hit that i had to leave the clinic without her, my ability to contain my emotions ceased.  I gave my wobbly drugged up punk a hug and a teary-eyed “I love you” and walked out the door.

Leaving my girl 😞

Ugly sobbing started as I wailed to my mom over the phone that I wasn’t ready to be without her.  I drove home, squinting through tears.  Yukon stoically tolerated me clinging to him while desperately trying to sleep for a couple of hours, phone by my head, waiting for a call informing me of the outcome of Mira’s surgery.  The call came a couple of hours later, I hesitated answering it for fear that bad news might await.  What would I do if she hadn’t made it off the table?  My worrying was for naught, the vet was able to remove the blockage, an unknown foreign object, and Mira was awake and alert in her kennel.  I was able to sink into a deep, much needed sleep.

I awoke around 7am to a call from the vet, Mira wasn’t doing well, she crashed hard about an hour after she came out of anesthesia and they were worried about DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation).  They had to run some blood work and would get back to me when they knew what was happening.  After what felt like a million years, I got the call that Mira’s blood work looked fine and that she seemed to be perking up a little.  Sobbing, I asked the vet if I could come and see her.  “Of course”, she said and mentioned we could discuss her progress.

I paced the exam room, waiting for someone to bring my girl out to see me.  Around the corner she came like a drunken sailor, wobbly-legged and groggy.  She hurled a big puddle shortly before the room but seemed as happy to be back with me as I was to have her by my side.  I laid on the floor, her head on my lap just happy she was still alive.  I stayed with her this way for an hour only leaving so she could rest, promising that I would be back in the evening to visit her.

Lots of staples

Sick punk

That evening, I went back – Mira, still weaving down the hallway seemed to be a little more perky.  After talking with the vet, we decided to take her off of the bupenorphine thinking it may have been prolonging her subdued state.  She laid with her head on my leg until it was time for me to leave.

Evening visit

Work was unbearable the next day, I’d have to wait until the afternoon to visit Mira but a call to the clinic set me at ease, she was doing well and would likely be able to come home that evening.  I stopped after work and she was standing on her own, walking around.  The staff had her loose in the clinic and she had been wandering around exploring on her own.  The good news was she was likely coming home but she was still urping up brown fluid which concerned them.

Standing on her own!!

Afternoon cuddles

Back to the clinic at 8pm, the vet on staff was concerned that Mira was still regurgitating fluid, she thought another night may be good for her.  My heart and my budget (EVet visits are $$) told me she needed to come home with me that night.  I felt that being in her own familiar place, with Yukon and me next to her that she’d recover more quickly.  They loaded me up with enough drugs for an army and the dreaded cone of shame and handed me the bill (which was cringeworthy but worth every penny).  Into the Jeep she went, we were home in no time, both her and Yukon excited to see each other.  Back together, the world was right again.

Homeward bound

Together

Over the next week, she slowly but steadily improved, despite the evil cone that I forced her to wear (which made her forget how to dog) and regular rectal temps (super fun for us both).  Her incision became infected and she popped a couple of stitches (keeping even a senior Aussie calm is a chore) but a couple of visits to my regular vet (who was a great help with aftercare – and whose staff was saintlike when dealing with my many phone calls) and a couple of antibiotic changes and my little fruit loop was back to normal!

Over the six months since this happened, I routinely find myself staring over at her as she sleeps, thinking about how close I came to losing her.  As she ages, I know someday I will have to face that reality but I’m so thankful that it was pushed down the road, that I have more time with her.  Just a dog, just a piece of my heart.

Ready for my drugs, Mom!

Post op checkup

Aussie lampshade?

Fully recovered Mira on spring vacation at the Grand Canyon (May)




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We’re very thankful that this little one is still with us after the events of the other night. It’s been a physically and emotionally exhausting couple of days. See my Facebook (link in bio) for the story of almost losing him and losing two GSPs in addition to the two dogs we lost a few weeks ago. We’re still not definite (awaiting necropsies and water testing) but there’s a theory. . . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy #bluegreenalgae #gsp #germanshorthair #germanshorthairedpointer
Shark puppy 🦈 . . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy #muskegonriver #swimming
Mesa wasn’t sure about Andrew at first but as of yesterday he was crawling all over him covering him with kisses. All dogs love him 😊 . . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy
Mesa’s really struggling to relax in his new home 😂 . . . . #aussielovers #aussiepuppy #aussie #dogs #dogstagram #australianshepherdworld #australianshepherdsofinstagram #dogsofinsta #instadog #dog #aussies #puppylove #australianshepherd #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #aussiesofinstagram #aussielove #cute #doglover #reddog #redmerle #redmerleaussie #adventuredog #adventurepuppy
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