Saturday, August 29, 2015

Whazoo Ruins Trip Reports

No kidding, have I ruined trip reports with too many ruin trip reports? It's an issue and I don't know how to remedy that since they are a main draw to our outings. Like fishing, geocaching and so many other "excuses"  it's a big reason to get out. 

And there we were again, repeating our last trip. Going to Phoenix from Durango to be there for open heart surgery on one of our one month old identical twin grand baby girls. How hard can it be to be first time grand parents? Especially to see the anguish on your childs face when the doctors remove the breathing tube only to have all the alarms go off because little Zoe doesn't breath on her own a week after surgery. In fact she now has a collapsed lung to deal with. Thankfully we have so many prayers and good vibes coming at her from so many friends, thank you.

A reply from Mike "Crazy Creek" on the last trip report, he noted our similarities in life. I know Mike was talking about he and I but I'll take that further and say how much I have in common with everyone here. You have a truck and camper, and I have a truck and camper. You are all supportive wonderful generous people and I...have a truck and camper.

But look, no more pity party for Whazoo, life is hard for so many and I'm humbled by those that have terrible issues with life and deal with it better than I.

We stopped one last time at Cedar Mesa on the way home. We've camped on the Mesa for twenty years and I am officially burned out on the area. But it is a fantastic spot on the map for anyone that likes to feel that they are lost in the great outdoors. Cedar Mesa has something for everyone. Drive-up and get-out ruins and vistas. Dirt roads and hike-to-ruins galore. Grand Gulch and it's tributaries for hikers is a treasure trove of ruins and the scenery is unbeatable.

One of those tributaries, Bullet Canyon, was in our sights for this hike. Did you get that one? Bullet Canyon? In our sights? Ah, you've gotten too used to me haven't you? 

I didn't know why "they" named it Bullet Canyon, but I was aiming to find out. (I know I know)

The road to the camping area is very good, most truck and campers would make it easily. But the drive in was disconcerting. As often as I get upset with the BLM I get even more so with knuckleheads that give them every reason they need to close more roads. Sometimes it seems there are more of them than there are of us and their acts of vandalism are visible for a long time. I was wishing I had a rake to erase this jack wagon's disservice to the rest of us but even a rake would leave broken ground on the bed of cryptobiotic soil.  

Our day hike would be another ten miler. Having the morning meds coursing through my veins I was in good spirits. "Meds", now there's a word with meaning in my "old" age. I'm sure I don't take as many as many, (huh?) but they have become a morning ritual, right after coffee. Can I get a show of hands to see that I'm in good company? How about a reply just because I'm feeling lonely as I swallow those weird shaped pills that often get caught in my throat making me hack and cough like I swallowed spit the wrong way. At the same time I'm thankful for them, hiking would be painful without. Or nonexistent.

I'd like to say that hiking in canyon country is a bit different from hiking in hills and mountains. In the mountains you climb first, having it easy on the way down at the end of the day. Not so in the canyons we love, they're actually inverted mountains. You have it easy the first part of the day as you hike downward. And being easy it sometimes leads you into going farther than you should, forgetting how hard it will be to climb out. (Take flashlights, and extra meds!)

It still amazes me that there can be so much ice in the desert. I'm thinking there was rain or melted snow right before a flash freeze. 

Of course, the stream bed was the trail as we walked on nature's version of a slip and slide.

My ode to the winter Olympics, the Whazoo Twizzle. Can you please hit the stop button on your computer, I'm gettin dizzy here.

Before long we were staring down the icy gullet of Bullet. A very neat looking frozen waterslide, I was wishing for the talent to take a great picture. I settled for just "ok."

"Come on down Granny, you can do it!" And she did, making it look easier than I, who slipped and fell at the bottom splitting the stitches open in the palm of my hand from surgery the week before. You gotta hand it to me...

What started off as a wash running below our camp was becoming a gorgeous canyon as we followed gravity down hill.

Very large cottonwoods were growing, or something, the bark being as deep as any I've seen.

The "or something." We couldn't tell what it was doing, maybe making itself into a pretzel, being dead only for the winter.

The trail was sometimes my eyebrows are getting. Are there meds for that?

Lunch break would be there, under the overhang. Or was it over the underhang? Isn't it all the same, the difference being where you sit? It gets confusing to me so I'll just call it an alcove. In that alcove was something we wanted to see.

It was the location for the Perfect Kiva, five miles down canyon from camp.

This looked like the spot where the Anasazi ground the maize that fed them. We were amaized that they could live on such small pieces of corn. What? You didn't think I'd miss that one did you?

While eating lunch I looked down and there it was, a nine hundred year old cob of corn. But who's counting the ears?

As Mrs. Whazoo gets corny all by her little self.

Every now and then you find pottery shards, talk about exciting. It's the small things right?

There was an open hole and a ladder waiting, so I didn't want to keep the latter waiting.

Little did I know I'd be kicking up so much dust with such little effort. Have some Hantavirus Dear! Being careful like she is Mrs. Whazoo took off PDQ.

I let the dust settle for just a minute before leaving the pack rat middens behind.

A short distance away was the Jailhouse Ruin. We were about two miles from the junction with Grand Gulch.

A multi-storied set of ruins, it looks like my mug shot is still on the jailhouse wall.

Called the Jailhouse Ruins because of this one window, I didn't get it. Even I could have broken out.

Looking behind the wall showed that it wasn't a jail after all.

Taking a look inside it had plenty of cobs on the ground. I had thought it was the perfect Anasazi nursery to drop the kids off for daycare. But it was probably just an interior granary.

Another small section had been made with a different construction method called wattle and daub. Sticks woven together and covered with mud. Wattle and daub is also what I'll do when we move back to Phoenix. In the summer I'll waddle a bit then daub the sweat from my forehead. 

I was optimistic as I looked at some neat "negative" hand prints and some artwork on the ceiling. 

"Hey Whazoo, let's get going. It's three o'clock and we have five miles to go...uphill."

Mrs. Whazoo and I agree, we are missing a very important part of the team, a dog. 

Without doing time, we left the Jailhouse.

Shadows come quick to the deep canyons, and the chill with it.

Back at the frozen water slide I was thinking that Billy Ray Cyrus had his Achey Breaky Heart, we had our Icey Dicey Falls. 

"I know Dear, it looks daunting."

Another tip of the hat to the Olympics, I've invented frozen waterfall skiing. And the judges score is??

The upper section of falls.

Walking over the ice we heard a cracking noise. I held my breath hoping the ice would hold her...I can't swim if I had to save her.

We made it back to the camper just as the light left the Mesa. We didn't have to use our headlamps, but almost, as we said goodnight to Bullet Canyon. 

A quick look at the camping spot at Bullet Canyon. No outstanding long distance views, just the peaceful quiet of being alone in the southwest.

A little side note...we've noticed many times that where there is a juniper tree growing there will be a pinyon pine within inches. The juniper lives longer than the pines so I have to think that the juniper gives some kind of protection to the pine. I can't find any literature on it but this is the case more often than not.

Another morning another hike. Signing in at the trailhead it seems there was a person with an interesting name ahead of us.

I had to wonder as we walked, were those the fresh prints of Belair? (Did I hear a boo?)

Boy, this looked like yesterday's frozen stream bed. Or was I locked in a nightmare of a never-ending hike on ice?

These are called "House On Fire" ruins. As you walk up to them they're just another set of ruins. Did I just say that? But the surprise comes when you take a picture and a trick of exposure shows it differently than you see it with your eyes. See for yourself...

Ok we're almost through, just ten more minutes. Don't you know that's my favorite saying to my family when on a long and tiring hike. It comes back to haunt me in my old age.
We were driving back to a camp spot I had been to at Thanksgiving, so some pictures may give you that deja-moo feeling. 

On the tip top of Comb Ridge the view was phenomenal.

And to think that George Hayduke winched his jeep down the Comb. With good eyes you can see the Highway 95 cut that Edward Abbey was so distressed over in The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Mrs. Whazoo shows her excitement for the view while I was a mere shadow of my former self. Or half a shadow. 

I was so hungry that night I felt I could eat the butt off a bulldog. I opted for some burgers, not having a bulldog around. Can I say that there are more uses for levelers than you might think?

Morning was as clear as the night had been helping keep the our spirits up.

My buddy on the Cliff Bar wanted to do some climbing, I obliged him.

The landscape from on high was incredible, giving my imagination a run for it's money. Not that my imagination has any cents. Looking across Comb Wash at the rock upheaval I'm reminded of a cracked egg. Or the back of my neck from working outside through twenty Phoenix summers. 

Almost seven years old now I'm so happy to say that the truck and camper are in fabulous shape and still taking us where we want to style. I can only hope the same for you.

A big thanks for hiking with us, and camping. We enjoyed your company... 
Dave & Lynn

But wait, there's more. Now for the first time on you also get a free triplett. All you pay is shipping cost and a small administration fee.  "Are you kidding Whazoo, we gotta get outta here before 2015 man." Don't worry, it's only a triplett.

Six years ago I did a solo loop backpack trip from the tc. I hid and locked a mountain bike in the juniper forest around Bullet Canyon and drove north to the Kane Gulch Ranger Station where I left the truck. Hiking down Kane Gulch to Grand Gulch, down the Grand Gulch and up Bullet Canyon to the bicycle, spending several days in the Canyons on the thirty-three mile hike. I had thought to ride the bike with a fifty pound pack back to the truck, a scant seven miles of pavement over gently rolling hills. Hah! After a few minutes of pedaling furiously with a pack on my back I noticed two things. First off I couldn't pedal uphill very fast and was wore out in less than five minutes. Second of all that darn seat was trying to imbed itself in me bottom, what with all the weight of the pack. Off came the pack, I dumped it in the bushes and marked the spot with a stick at the side of the road. 

Even so I couldn't quite pedal up those rolling hills but had to walk the bike. But oh the joy coasting down the backside of those hills, coattails flying in the breeze as the years flew off. It was worth the hike just for the downhill ride and I realized, I was now on the downhill side of life...but enjoying it all the same.

The hike itself was the worst I've ever done. Getting to my first camp I realized I'd forgotten my book to read. With the sun leaving the canyon so early and not being able to have a fire I got a good taste of what the Anasazi must have felt on so many nights, absolute boredom. 

It was fall and the Canyon looked different than it did on this winter trip. 

A metate used to grind the maize, it was the portable model, probably ordered from Amazon.

The real end...