After hearing Carol’s story, I realized that she did not just need my help for a little way, she really needed my help for the entire hike. I had prayed to G-d for someone to hike with, and he had provided me with an opportunity to serve.
I borrowed a pen and paper from Carol, and while she sat and rested, I ran the half mile to catch up with Marian.
“Do you need us to get a ranger!?” she yelled as I approached.
“No!” I shouted back, “But she is going to need my help the rest of the way, so I wanted to get your and your dad’s email addresses because I think you are very interesting people.”
I got her to scribble down the addresses, and began to head back down the trail as her dad called from around the bend for her to catch up. That was the last I saw of Marian and her father.
I spent the rest of the morning hiking with Carol, stopping every hundred yards for her to let her heart calm down. We talked about all kinds of things that morning. She told me stories about her daughters, and her ex-husband. She told me about her eccentric friend Ken, who lived in Ashville, NC and owned a motorcycle, sail plane, and a goat. She told me about her desire to go to Africa, which she did, and about how she had just signed up for the Peace Corps after being laid off from her job.
Before we new it, it was 11:00 and we had made it to Indian Gardens, a beautiful micro-forest where the NPS located a pump house which actually pumps water up hill to the rim lodges. Indian Garden is a much busier location than Phantom Ranch, so I spent several hours just sitting in the shade by the water fountain, talking to different hikers as they came through.
I started to get really excited as I talked to a spread out group from Intel. There were 28 of them doing their second rim to rim day hike in the last week. They started out on the South Rim, and hiked across to the North Rim a few days before, and after some resting and a little partying, they were crossing back to their vehicles on the South Rim.
Each of the hikers wore fancy synthetic cloths, a green wrist band, and some tags to identify them. They also carried radios and an assortment of snacks in their lightweight Camelbacks, miniature backpacks with built in drinking bladders. Most of them had hiked the Grand Canyon before, and were trying to meet personal goals as far as hiking time, which ranged from barely over five hours to about fourteen hours to make the rim to rim crossing.
I wanted to hike out at that point, but I was not willing to leave Carol behind, and I already had a permit to camp for the night, so I made do by enjoying the creek for a while, finishing Searching for G-d Knows What, and hiking out to Plateau Point where another hiker found a small rattlesnake. Indian Gardens was a very friendly place, and I was able to talk to a lot of cool people including Christine, a 40 year old geographer from Colorado/Wyoming.
Finally it was time to sleep, so I made my way to my campsite for the worst night of sleep I have had in weeks. There was a very cold wind blowing all night. For those of you who don’t know, wind passes right through fleece and almost completely negates its effectiveness as insulation, which is probably why there is such a huge market for “wind-stopper fleece”. In addition to the unexpected cold and wind, mice crawled all over my sleeping bag throughout the night. At least, I assume they were mice. They could have been tarantulas…
To Be Continued…