On September 1, 2018, I was ushered off the local college running track, which was closing for a field hockey match about to begin. As it happened, this abbreviated workout ended with the completion of my 3,000th mile of barefoot training, on the dot. I’d been working towards this goal with great enthusiasm since reporting on my 2,000th mile in December 2017 (and the first 1,000 miles the year before).
Back to the Catskills after a summer out west, just a few quick notes….
The week before Labor Day is typically pretty quiet in New York, and with nothing much on the calendar, I couldn’t bear sitting around idle, so I threw together a quick jaunt up to the Adirondacks with the goal of making progress on the 46 high peaks (as a result of the trip, I’m now at 24/46). Here are some quick notes…
Heading west from Moab, I’m hearing reports that Zion National Park is pretty crowded (someone mentions the main valley can be accessed only via shuttle bus). Thus I’m delighted when my friend Anna tells me of a hike that bypasses the crowds. Drive to Zion Ponderosa Ranch, she continues, and they’ll point you to the trailhead a short distance away….
A year or so ago casting around for new challenges, I google’d “barefoot Grand Canyon,” and that’s when I discovered Thea Gavin, a free-spirited writer and self-styled “suburbanite chronically injured running grandma,” who’d hiked from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other, descending roughly 5,000 feet and them climbing back out, for a total journey of 24 miles, all without shoes. When conventional boot-clad hikers in the Canyon asked why, she responded, “It’s fun.”
This spring I began planning a western trip to the Grand Canyon and other places I’d never been. Business matters interceded, the trip was delayed, put on hold, and then finally thrown together at the last minute with destinations to be figured out on the fly.
Now it’s late morning, August 7, and I’m pulling in to Kanab, Utah, which I’ve designated as my final staging point prior to entering Grand Canyon National Park. Priority of work: lunch, laundry, gas, obtain a wi-fi connection to download maps and review the route, and hopefully find an espresso. The strategy is to enter the park after dark (avoiding the crowds and the heat), attempt a barefoot descent of the Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River, and then turn around and climb back up.
In Mammoth Lakes for one more night, I need time to plan my final hike on this western trip, a 16-miler in Yosemite National park. So this will be a rest day…
My four-week southwestern pilgrimage is drawing to a close, and what stands between my current location in Mammoth Lakes and the San Francisco airport is. . . . Yosemite National Park, John Muir’s temple of the wilderness, in which “every rock seems to glow with life.”
This is sacred ground, with 4.3 million visitors last year. This year, having just reopened after a month’s closure due to forest fires, no doubt the park will be thronged. What’s needed is a thoughtful plan: an infiltration route from a remote trailhead to a suitable vantage point overlooking the valley, sparing me the crowds below. A chance encounter with a friendly trail volunteer supplies me with exactly this: a 16-mile route from Porcupine Creek Trailhead to North Dome and the top of Yosemite Falls.