Sunday, April 10, 2011


I'm not really what you'd call an outdoorsman.  It's not that I don't like the outdoors, mind you -- cycling, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, tree climbing, exploring... there are tons of things I like to do out there.  But as I said in my last post, I don't have one of those hiking goals you sometimes find among people you know, and back when I was a scout (I was a Cub Scout of the various grades, and a Webelo, but punched out of the Boy Scouts after one meeting), I never really went for the whole camping thing.  I enjoy an occasional night in a tent and with a camp stove, but you won't catch me out there every weekend or anything like that.  I don't like having stuff stuck to my feet, maybe -- sand, evergreen needles, etc.  Think what you will. 

That aside, as I was discussing (virtually) with a friend of mine, today, I do appreciate the diversity of the landscapes of our planet -- or even just the continent I call home.  Coming from New England, I've found the dry hills of northern California, the flatness of Florida, the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies and the deserts, buttes and canyons of the American southwest just fascinating.  And I've had the chance to see some amazing stuff out west -- Bryce and Zion, Moab and Sedona, Yosemite and the Columbia River Gorge.  And twice, now, the Grand Canyon.

It's an incredible place, if you haven't been.  I've posted a few pictures, here, rather than try to describe it.  Its vastness is impossible to comprehend through photographs.  Most of the big features in any of these pictures are miles away.  Even stuff up close is out of snowball's reach (I checked that).  And a hike to the bottom on the Bright Angel trail you can see in these shots is something like 17 miles.

This week I spent a fair bit of time thinking through some letting go I need to do -- really painful stuff that I've tried hard to avoid for a year.  And I've got more coming in the next few months, which I mostly haven't been trying to avoid.  All of it necessary to getting on with life, none of it easy, and some of it impossibly hard.  I'd like to be able to tell you that the trip to the canyon made everything easier -- that the vastness of the place and the geologic time scale made all of the hard stuff I've been wrestling with seem unimportant.  But I can't lie like that.  It's an incredible place that inspired awe over and over again, simply by shifting my location or casting my gaze in a different direction.  But it's just a place.  It doesn't make things go away, and it doesn't make them easier or hurt less.  Even so, it's good to get a dose of awe, and a pair of 3-hour hikes equals six useful hours of thinking time.

The last time I was at the canyon, I hiked to the bottom with my ex, and it was a good and memorable experience.  This time, the canyon received snow just before my arrival, which lent the south rim a different feel than it had the last time.  I didn't have the right gear to hike down in, or enough time to get very far, so I just hiked the rim, in both directions from the Bright Angel lodge -- one per day.  It would have been nice to get down in there, but my only real regret is that I didn't have someone to share the experience with.  Rather than swapping impressions, I spent last night reading Hemingway.  Good, but not as uplifting.  Maybe next time.

Back to bikes next week -- I promise.  I'll be finishing the fitting work on Juli's Schwinn, and doing the overhauling work on my friend Carol's Fuji (possibly with her husband and son), and hopefully(!) getting in some outdoor miles on the Motobecane.  Maybe Juli will even get to test out her new bike?  Time will tell.

All for now,


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