Sunday, May 23, 2010

Three Marks and a Black George

I know, the title of this blog sounds like a deadly cocktail, or at the very least, a hallucinogen. And in a sense, it is. My five week visit to the States culminated in an 8-day Colorado River trip through the 277-mile long Grand Canyon. If you’ve been on a Grand Canyon river trip, you’ll remember the hallucinogenic quality of that time.

It started with an Arizona Shuttle van ride from my sleazy motel room on Rt. 66 in Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. Mark Harris was the driver and within a very short period of time, we were reminiscing about “the good old days” in Yosemite (after he discovered I was once a ranger there). You see, Mark Harris spend a lot of time climbing in the Valley in the early 90’s. He taught me some “tricks of the trade” climbers use to stay in the Valley for free (like nailing the recycling bin closed, forcing park visitors to leave their nickel cans and bottles in the nearby trash can; climbers gather the goods and take them to the recycling center for payment). Eventually, rangers (no doubt some of my friends who still worked there) escorted Mark out of the park… to greener pastures.

The other two Marks (Pillar and Yeston) were boatmen extraordinaire who lead the 32-person (River Management Society professional river managers), 8-day/300 mile, 4 motorized rafts (3 J-rigs/1 S-rig) trip through the Canyon. Piller was the trip leader and drove the 37’ S-rig. I rode on his boat a lot because he was always telling jokes, reciting cowboy poetry (how does he remember it all?) or recounting stories of the gazillion (or was it a Brazilian) days he has spent on the river in the last 11 years. Yeston was even funnier because his stories were based on real life….! Yeston’s description of taking a Government “bean-counter” down the river (she only made it one night before she had to be hauled out by helicopter) had me laughing so hard I was crying!

Black George is a legend (see or and a good friend of Yeston’s. He will be 87 years old in September. He told some absolutely amazing stories around the “propane” campfire. All I can say is Yee-Haw!
In case you are wondering about the pictures, in order from top to bottom, left to right is: Martha Moran in National Canyon, me under and next to waterfalls in Travertine Canyon, Rob and Jason on the front of the S-Rig, view from Nankoweap, Deer Creek Falls, Yoga on the beach lead by Rachel Peters, graneries at Nankoweap, Vasey's Paradise, and Black George (new boyfriend) and yours truly in Redwall Cavern.

So, I’m back in Panama, enjoying every second of the ocean, my friends, cool breezes and walks with Chester. After suffering through 3+ weeks of bronchitis in the states, it’s good to be back to such a healing place. I head back to the states July 4 to take Mom to the family reunion in Kelseyville. Will I be ready?

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