Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 8 in the Grand Canyon: Feeling a Little Primal.

The happy place at the top of the Deer Creek gorge

Deer Creek Falls

The 8th day we started from Stone Creek Camp (Mile 132) fairly early so that we could do a couple short hikes and still cover 20 miles to Ledges Camp (Mile 152).  The first was one of the most iconic in the Canyon, Deer Creek.  Deer Creek is a small stream that has chewed a very unique canyon for itself out to the rim of the inner canyon. At the canyon's edge it drops 80 feet or so into a pool along the Colorado.  The second hike was also a very popular hike called Matkatamiba.  It is a cool climb up through a smooth polished mini canyon that you can climb chimney style for quite a while.
On the lip of the inner canyon at Deer Creek
By day 8 in the Grand Canyon we started to feel a little primal.  There was sand in everything.  On day 3 Woody was pretty much rolling in it. I sort of cleaned my dishes after each meal.  A lick is as good as clean. Right?  The cadence of the nomadic group provided the only clock work that really mattered.  Sunrise started each day.  We pushed as far into the evening darkness as we could so that we could remain asleep till first light.  In a very basic sense, the only things that mattered were; Eat, Sleep, Stay Warm, and Travel.  There was a routine.  We began to do things pretty much the same way everyday.  Waking, fixing coffee and breakfast at a certain time. Packing our bags a certain way.  Loading them into our boats just so.  Climbing into our gear.  Paddle.  Lunch. Paddle. Hike. Eat. Gather Wood. Fire!

Orzo, Veggies, Calamari & Tapenade
You could definitely classify everyone in the group by whether they stew over their canyon food for months or pick it up at the grocery store right there in Flagstaff.  There are 3 schools of cooking for this trip as far as I can see.  Number 1 captures the serious backpacking gourmets who prepare their meals before hand and dehydrate them.  They do more planning than I have ever put into this type of trip but man, the meals look awesome, and they are one pot meals because they just boil the water, cook the contents, and eat out of the same bowl.  Cooking and eating out of a single bowl is a big deal.  It means less you have to take and less you have to clean up after each meal.  Number 2 has the down-and-dirty packet boilers.  This includes your Mac N' Cheesers, your Beans and Rice-a-roni packs and your high falutin' Mountain House style backpacking food folks. This style is also very simple and what it lacks in creativity it gains in time saved.  The only reason I am careful about anything in this style is the very high sodium content.  My heart starts racing just thinking about it.  Number 3 features the fresh food river chefs.  I start in this category but towards the end of the trip I begin to wander towards packet boiler status as I get tired.  The fresh foodies bring veggies, eggs, meats, bread, etc. to fill out the menu.  The benefits are obvious:  the food is good, and you can adjust and create different meals by adjusting contents.  The downsides are: longer cook times, more dirty dishes, and a heavier boat.  I wrote the categories so I get to break the rules;  I consider myself a mix of all three.  I bring some fresh foods, a dozen eggs, a cooked ham, giant cheese block, onions, fruit, etc. but I also have a base of easy to cook pastas, rice, and grains, and I also carry a couple bags of dehydrated veggies that I soak into meals.  I add ready made sauces, meats, and spices from my spice box for variation.  There are lots of ways to attack the food thing, but it does take a little planning.


Here is a link to all of the photos from Day 8 in the Canyon.
Its good to have fire.

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