October 2, 2011 21 Comments
After a hard day hiking, I thought about taking a refreshing dip in the hotel’s saltwater pool.
Maybe another time.
There's nothing a martini and an AK-47 can't fix.
September 18, 2011 5 Comments
In one of my rare fits of sanity, I decided I was in no condition to handle the hike through the Subway. This hike is the kind of hike where you take a map, knowing there’s not a lot of trail to follow and it’s long with lots of scrambling over obstacles, swimming in very cold water and some minor rappelling. Since my hike through the Narrows left me with crystal clear knowledge of every single muscle connection between my toes and scalp, I did not think I could pull myself up to anything other than a bar. The ever-intrepid Troy went alone.
I agreed I would pick Troy up from the bottom of the route and I spent a pleasant morning strolling the red rock desert of southwestern Utah. Zion is of course named after the promised land the Mormons thought they had found. I did not see a single Mormon, but I would bet that the European to American ratio is something like 8 to 1 right now. Those Germans are serious hikers and they are here in droves. I spent a fun day playing the game “gay or European hipster?” (they are hard to differentiate but it’s all in the shoe choices) and then it was time to go get Troy.
I arrived at the Left Fork Trailhead and waited. I brought my Kindle and read. I read a lot. Hours went by and I finished the Beautiful and the Damned which I had always meant to read and never quite did. The park ranger came by. We chatted. Troy is largely invincible in the woods so I have never been all that concerned, but in the back of my mind was the fear I might have to go down the trail and look for him. It’s 400 feet straight down at the end of the trail. Right around 6 pm as I am thinking about going to look for him, up hobbles Troy and announces he has broken his ankle. No matter what Troy says, I am an awesome wife. I brought him dry clothes to change into, I got the shoe off his mangled foot and we set off for the hospital.
Hurricane Utah is a small town with a clinic-type hospital and they got him in and out within 2 hours. Had this been a Nashville hospital, we’d probably still be there. Troy did not in fact break his ankle, but he sprained the crap out of it and it is now a rainbow of pretty colors.
Troy claims to have defeated nature plenty of times, but not this trip. Nature 1, Troy 0.
September 15, 2011 6 Comments
Zion is world-famous for several hikes, but none is more famous than the Narrows. Basically, take a fast-moving river in a very narrow slot canyon and take intrepid people who want to hike in the river and you have the famous Narrows hike. People die in this place on occasion as there is just no where to go in the event of a flash flood. The walls are a thousand feet of towering, smooth, sandstone cliffs and barring Spiderman- like abilities, you’re pretty much screwed if you get caught here in a flood. Why do it? Because it’s awesomely beautiful.
Being married to a man with a butt smaller than mine is bound to make me look bad in a place like this. This is a hard hike. The water is cold (yesterday, a balmy 58 degrees) and it’s running fast (68 cfs) and you are slogging upstream against a current. If you have a brain in your head, you either rent appropriate canyoneering shoes and neoprene socks (Zion Adventure Company rents both for about $20) along with a decent hiking stick or you own your own gear and you use it. Plenty of morons get in the water and decide to head upstream barefoot or in open-toed sandals or flip-flops. This is a terrible idea. The rocks are slippery and the footing is uncertain, and thousands of pounds of rushing water are trying to topple you. Not wearing appropriate gear can be dangerous. I know this because I broke my neck here in 2009.
In 2009, I decided to wear a pair of water shoes from Merrell in the river. It seemed reasonable, but these are not canyoneering shoes and they lacked the grip of better shoes designed for canyoneering. The flow rate was also almost 140 cfs which is about as high as it can be and the park will allow you to get in the water. I lost my balance in the water and in a freak accident, ended up slammed against the rock with a broken neck and a blown disc. I was about 1 1/2 miles into the canyon at that point. If you hike in, you have to be able to hike out. I did not realize I had broken anything and thought I had a shoulder injury. Not quite. By the time it was over, I had a bone graft, several screws and a titanium plate in my neck and a permanent loss of strength in the right arm from nerve damage. This is unfun. Don’t do what I did. I got injured because I was careless and because I decided I did not want to wear the less comfortable 5-10s in the river. The only redeeming thing from the experience is no one can question my toughness as I hiked my bad self out of the canyon under my own power (I will admit it is a damned lucky thing I’m not paralyzed).
If you do this hike, you will see a ton of Europeans, some of them hilariously over-outfitted. (Drysuits in August are not necessary and you will have sweat running down your ass crack in ways you did not anticipate). You will also see some girls in bikinis far up river in very cold water. They are Swedish or Danish and think 55 degrees is toasty. Pay no attention to these blonde glamazons as they are not of this earth and they exist to make you swear to hit the crosstrainer daily while subsisting on lettuce and air. If you slog up river far enough, you will be rewarded with this:
Expect to get wet (chest deep in a few spots) but most of it is hard in the water and trying not to fall over hiking.
This is a bucket list kind of place so unless you are in a wheelchair or dragging oxygen, you should do this before you die.
September 13, 2011 Leave a comment
Troy booked my flight to Las Vegas. Because we have a zillion frequent flier miles on Delta courtesy of American Express, Troy booked Delta. Delta sucks and I totally do not like the way they fly. To start with, it’s disconcerting to taxi down the runway and then to return to the gate being told that there is “a problem with the brakes”. Good to know. This is one of those things you would hope they would have noticed before they started to take off. Hours later, we took off. As we were descending into Las Vegas, we flew through the mother of all thunderstorms. The plane went up and down and sideways. I puked. Twice. The shame. Fortunately for my fellow travelers, I am apparently good at puking into a paper bag in extreme turbulence as I did not puke on myself or them. You’re welcome Indian guy next to me.
On arrival, I headed for the Flamingo. I chose this hotel because I was either going to stay in top flight digs or old Vegas with mob connections. I opted for old Vegas. This was a mistake. The hotel does have the cool old neon Flamingo out front that’s been there since time immemorial.
The original Ocean’s 11 was filmed here. I don’t think they’ve done much to it since then. I suspect that the carpet is exactly the same (hot pink and brown stripes) today as it was when the Rat Pack puked there back then. I think this property has taken a dive in standards since Bugsy met his great reward. On arrival, this hotel which has 3000+ rooms had one, yes one, valet guy.
The casino is smoke-filled and full of middle-aged women in packs. This is not your destination for anyone under 55.
Our room was a sad attempt at updated. Troy and I are still trying to figure out the vinyl headboards:
Is the head board supposed to save you from a really bad headache in the event of head-banging sex? At 6′ x 6′, who needs that big of an area padded? This is a design element that needs more thought. Also, the 9 bare bulb fixture directly above the bed. I would ditch that.
We ditched out of Las Vegas as fast as possible. We have arrived in Zion National Park and all is well in the Harrison world. Big thunderstorms this afternoon and a downpour., though. Tomorrow, the Narrows.
September 1, 2011 1 Comment
We are heading to Zion National Park in less than two weeks so that I can attempt to finish the hike that quite literally broke my neck. This is where I broke my neck in 2009:
Because my stubborn streak exceeds my intelligence, I am going back to do it again, this time (hopefully) without all the injuries. Currently, there is very little Troy can say to me because I hiked out of a canyon under my own power with a badly-damaged neck. Any time he complains about pain, I just tell him, “Yeah, but I hiked out of the Narrows with a broken neck.” This tends to quiet him down.
Of course, Troy is driving out alone because a) I hate driving 26 hours anywhere and b) he is going to take his time on the way back so he can
attempt to kill himself do Blue John Canyon. For those not in the know, this is the remote Utah canyon in which Aron Ralston cut off his own hand to free himself. I am flying out to Vegas and will meet up with him. Troy booked my flight. On 9/11. I told you he was trying to kill me.
July 23, 2011 6 Comments
I have noticed an uptick in people who find this blog with searches for people who die in various national parks or as dinner for a shark or grizzly bear. Y’all are clearly a morbid, bloodthirsty bunch. This morning, these searches found this blog:
As a public service, for those of you with morbid curiosity wasting time looking for information on people who have died in National Parks and how, here’s where you need to go:
Badlands National Park (click on the compendium for details by year)
Sadly, there’s no statistics kept on who had it coming. Darwinism may be at work in many of the deaths.
For those of you even more determined to track down who met their fate in the form of being dinner for a wild animal, here you go:
February 15, 2011 2 Comments
It’s that time of year when Troy and I start planning the vacations we will take. On the agenda this year, kayaking in Congaree National Park in South Carolina, possibly a quick trip to kayak in the 10,000 Islands in late March, a trip to Yosemite in June for a week to hike (and die) and then Zion National Park in September where I am determined to hike the Subway before I keel over and hang up my hiking shoes. I am trying to talk Troy into kayaking the Na Pali coast in Kauai in July but Troy is not jazzed about it. With all these impending trips, it’s time to start ordering outdoor clothes for the season.
If you ever want to feel totally inadequate, a quick scan through the Athleta catalog should do it. Exhibit A:
Let’s look at this. This woman has an ass you could bounce a quarter off of. I hate her and I don’t even know her. She’s probably really sweet. I tried this pose tonight and all I got for my trouble is a badly pulled hamstring and a bruise from where I fell over and hit the dining table. Fortunately, Troy had already gone to bed when I tried this.
This woman is perky even upside down. That’s unfair to the rest of us. Someone needs to hold her hostage and force-feed her twinkies. I started to try this one but was greeted by four very curious dogs who are not helpful yoga partners. I gave up and poured a martini. Fuck it. I’m wearing a rash guard and khaki shorts this year.