New Hance-Tonto-Kaibab

If there is any place where the abyss looks into the observer with ease, it is overlooking Grapevine canyon on the Tonto trail. The black schist is stark and vertical, the dull-pink granite intrusions laid diagonally. Huge and consistent stripes that blend the near wall into the far, without the river inlayed at the bottom all reference would be lost. I found it almost impossible to walk along the edge without ignoring the inner gorge.

So, why a Monday mysteriously off? Not the sort of thing that happens often for me. Ever, really. Indeed, in this case I fucked up. A student didn’t show second hour, was in the bathroom. I didn’t think much of it until near the end of the period, when I learned she had tried to hang herself and passed out. Reasons? Yes, she’s been on a medical order for months to have as much time in the bathroom as she likes, a bowel complication resulting from being analy gang-raped. Plus, I’ve got 95 students in 8+ grade levels, and do all my own paperwork, grading, curricula development, teaching, supervising, etc. Excuses? None. So, my head was on the block when it came time to make an example, and I got a free day off. Free for the company, that is.

Please note, I write this reluctantly, and only after vetting my whole blog. Most of you know what I do, a good number exactly where I work. The casual observer does not, and it has to stay that way.

I’ve never dealt with failure well, obstinancy and an overprotected childhood. So, I’ve got some demons from this one. The sort that make an attempt at “punishment” by the company laughable; I can assure you that out on my journey, physically sojourning alone with my demons, I did not sleep well.

The mission is I think accomplished. Rolling with dissapointment and failure has been a personal goal for a couple years, and this weekend I had a good and challenging trip, and today I kicked ass at work. So, next item.

I do want to go backpacking more, now. My Granite Gear pack worked so well I wanted to buy it a beer early Monday afternoon; I brought too much food but not too too much. On Sunday I punched out 26 miles of rough backpacking, found a beautiful campsite, and drank deep from a unique place.

This year will I think continue to be a good one.


  1. The biggest I’ve done is down S. Kaibab to river, then across to and back up Bright Angel to the top. Took about 8 hours. I think that is around 20 miles and probably more vertical (but easier trails) than Hance to Grandview.Never actually camped in the Canyon. Intimidated by the permit process I guess.

  2. I’ve done the S Kaibab-River-B Angel loop in 4.5 hrs. I’d estimate that the Hance-Grandview loop would be substantially harder, longer, maybe a little less vertical (still go to the river, 7k to 2.7k and back)with more rugged hiking. I’m down for March 31st or, even better, April fools day! A good day to do something foolish!!!

  3. I’ve decided you are a different sort of animal.I was a bit out of shape for that hike, but 4.5 hours is (I assume) a running pace. My HR was never below 150 the entire climb out.I will look into 4/1, got a kids B-day party on 3/31.

  4. Sounds good, its on a semi-firm calender.For the 4.5 hrs I did not running up or down, just power-hiking with few stops (to eat and pee). On the ascent I focused on my Suunto watch and tried to keep my average ascent rate north of 13 meters/minute.

Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s