Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now

I surely have no real intention of bothering anyone with what has been going on lately.  Let's just say that it was time for a bit of a break from the real world and a trip into the Canyon world.  It was right on time.

The plan was hatched for this trip back in October of last year.  3 of the 4 original participants made the trip and I think we were all really disappointed <sarcasm> at our replacement fourth hiker.  Good replacement hikers can be so hard to find...

Anyway.... The plan was (and it was executed just perfectly), to leave Vegas after work on a Thursday, head to the South Rim, hike the South Kaibab to Bright Angel Camp on Friday morning, Clear Creek on Saturday, back to Bright Angel on Sunday then out the Bright Angel Trail on Monday. 

We will be down there, in the morning....

 The new Bright Angel Trailhead looks great.  What a great project that GCA was able to raise funds for and accomplish.

So this was Rachael's FIRST look at the Grand Canyon (other than a hike to Havasupai).  It's a whole different ballgame at the South Rim.

What we didn't know in the beginning was that we would get to spend Thursday night with Jamie Compos and Jackie Summers.  Ahh, steak dinners and stories was the order of the night and we had a great "Happy Hour" at El Tovar Lounge followed by some great meals of meat at the Arizona Room.  I just love being at the Canyon!

The time had come, though, and we needed to organize gear and get some sleep before the hike in Friday morning.  Jamie and Jackie decided to meet us at the Maswik cafeteria in the morning for breakfast, drive us to the SK Trailhead and hike down as far as they could before turning around and heading back for work. 

We hit the trail somewhere about 7:30.  Here is 4/5 of the motley crew on the trail.  (L-->R: Jim, Jamie, Jackie & Josh)

View of our destination from below the 'Tip Off'.  Believe it or not, this was my first trip all the way down the South Kaibab.  After my first backpack in 2000, I haven't really been back to the corridor.  Just so many people there.  Jamie & Jackie left us at the top of the Redwall.  It was really great to see them and know of their upcoming adventures!  Live vicariously I will. 

Ahhh!!!!  I'm in a tunnel!!!  In the Grand Canyon!!!!  This is sooo cool!!!!

Phantom Ranch is always a good time. 

After the 'Ranch, we hiked up into lower Phantom Creek. I was playing with exposure and aperture settings trying to make the water look smooth.  It's harder than it looks without a tripod!

So after a nice dinner and a hike down to the River just East of the Silver bridge, we had the Ranger come by, check permits and that was that.  Broke into the Knob Creek and enjoyed the stars.  No tents on this trip.

***It didn't rain today***

The next morning we took our time, getting up, and using the provided facilities.  I ate the biggest bag of Lucky Charms and powdered milk ever.  Ever!  So civilized at BACG.  Too civilized.  Well we could fix that.  Since no one brought a watch for this trip, time was mostly gauged by the sun.  We were surprisingly accurate when we asked folks the time throughout the trip.  Well mostly me, I wanted to see how accurate my guesses were.  Surprisingly, I was usually within 30 minutes...

As expected, the Clear Creek Trail got right down to business out of BA Creek.  It was in really nice shape from the creek into the upper Schist.  There is a nice traverse along the River until you hit the break through the Tapeats nearly at Sumner Wash. 

This was also my first time on the Clear Creek Trail.  They should have named it the Zoroaster Trail.  Not just because I like to say 'Zoroaster', but because you see Zoroaster Temple from nearly every angle imaginable. 

Here are the 'Braveheart' girls on the CC Trail.  Freedom!!!  #Selfie

This is the descent into Clear Creek.  According to Jim, it had been improved since his last trip here.  This was Jim's 4th time in CC I believe.  Probably never with a group like this... We made pretty good time, arriving around 2:30 I'd guess.  There were a couple of other guys here in the upper Cottonwood-shaded camp when we arrived.  They had an interesting story.  Started down the Grandview, across the Tonto to Bright Angel.  UP to Clear Creek UA for 2 nights, then back to Bright Angel.  Then Indian Gardens, Horn, Monument and out.  What a trip!  Our plans were different.  We had but one night.

We hung by the Creek and enjoyed the frogs.  Such a nice area.

We had many libations scheduled for this day.  Here I am mixing up the final ingredient of our Margarita; this was the Grand Marnier.  Did I mention it was a nice afternoon?  The chicken fajitas we had for dinner were off the chain (best Guy Fieri voice).

The Tonto on the North side is packed with great views!
There's trouble.
Hey Jim!

Sunday was very windy on the trail.  Very windy and Rachael had some foot problems with her boots.  She's getting new boots too after this trip.  Oh, another view of Zoroaster.  Ho hum.

We made it back to PR in time for 2 beers before 4:00 when they close to prep for dinner service.  Nice.

We grabbed a camp, then went down to hang by the River.  What a glorious afternoon.  Here is Rachael and Amy at the Boaters Beach.

Isn't that some Schist?

We drank the last of the Lumberyard (and the Jamo), ate some lasagna and creme brulee then enjoyed the stars.  Playing with the mini tripod and the DSLR, did some night photography:

Woke up to some deer just chilling.

We headed out probably close to 9 on this fine Monday morning.  Here are the girls gawking at the river from the Silver Bridge.

I took a video of the eddy on RL under Silver Bridge.

Great Views on the River Trail.

Yeah, we just climbed the Devils Corkscrew.

The ruins in the upper Tapeats.

Lunch (egg salad sandwiches) at Indian Garden.

3 Mile resthouse down there.  Rachael's feet were killing her, so she hiked up in socks from below this resthouse.  Amy joined her at 1.5 mile resthouse.


The crew.  We topped out about 4:30, had a bite at the Maswik Pizza Pub then hit the road.  Jim back to Albuquerque and Amy, Rachael and I to Vegas.  We hit the house about 10:00 PM.  What a great trip with the best people in the world. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hatching a Plan, Then Drilling It!

Now that all of the preliminary stuff was done on the interior, it was time to start framing out all of the hatches.  Here you can see the rear seat supports I installed Last week.  I did the same thing at the front seat as well.

Here is the front seat area.

You can see the work done in the Stem Hatch area here.  We have the side deck supports in along with a brace piece to ensure the area where the stem hatches and the stem proper meet do not blow out in the first big wave she plows through.

Here is the rear hatch framing.  I made it wide enough to fit a cooler, and it will fit either of my 100+ QT Igloos.  The idea being the cooler can slide in up against the bulkhead delineating the aft portion of the boatmens footwell area.  When I need to get into the cooler, I can just slide it forward and have clearance to fully open the lids.  I would rig up some eyelets or something to strap the cooler with to keep it secure.  I would think keeping the cooler more centered in the boat would help with the overall balance once in the water as well.  Moving the cooler fore will allow more storage room for drybags inside the rear hatch area.  It would also allow for a few milk crates in the hatch for fruit and produce.

The boatmen's footwell area before the framing goes in.  I have decided to modify this slightly and NOT include the angled hatches here.  I will keep them flat so there is a nice flat surface to sleep on once everything is decked.  Having the ability to sleep on the boat is a pretty important feature for me.

Getting the front hatch framed in.   I decided to stick with the off-center design so I could get some longer items through the hatch lid, like my 'Roll-A-Table', or an umbrella  The final feature worth pointing out about the front hatch is that it is wide enough for a 36-pack of cans to fit in.  I have tried to think of everything...

Front hatch is all framed in.  The area under the front seat should be great for storage of extra beer.  I will likely put some eyelets on each side (or against the bulkhead at frame #7) of this front hatch area to strap in a couple of 5 gallon water jugs.

In this picture you can see the delineation of the footwell area along with some intermediate deck framing supports around the 2 amidships hatches.  I also put some 2x4 pieces in at the boatmens seat area.  This will aid in support (for my fat ass) along with something to attach the seat rails to.

An overview shot.  Next is to rout out the underside of the deck support at frame #4 so the cooler will slide under it and secure to the bulkhead at frame #5 (good catch here Amy).

I am going to try and make some meaningful progress at the footwell area today.  This should be pretty interesting as I also need the floor to slope to the self-bailer.  I will go into more details on how the bailer works once I get that installed.  I have an idea for a smaller boatmen hatch to store small items (point-and-shoot camera, sunscreen, beer cozy, etc.) and have them readily accessible/easily stow-able.  Half the fun of building your own boat is the customization! 

I also have to think about a guttering system and decide how I want to seal up the hatches proper.  The next hatches to frame in after the footwell will be the stem and transom hatches.  There are some funky angles here, so those will probably be last.