Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hiking the Grand Canyon - part 4 - Biscuits, Bullets'n Backpack

I like the unusual. When my girls were little they helped mix graham flour and honey, and spread it on a cookie sheet to bake. Cooled and ground we had grapenuts. We learned appreciation for the store-bought version.

For the hike, I packed freeze-dried meals and energy bars, but kept my options open to other foods. A friend told me about a recipe for biscuits Roman soldiers took into battle for nourishment.

Using the coffee grinder and blender, I pulverized the wheat George brought, added honey, mixed, and plopped mounds on a cookie sheet to bake. How long? Until I was satisfied. I felt primitive, excited to bring the past to life. Warm, we could eat them. Cold, they turned hard as bullets. We couldn't break a piece off, and we don't own a battle axe. I eased them into the trash, as if they'd go off. It didn't matter. I couldn't hit anything anyway. So much for that experiment.

To get a "feel" for the pack, I wore it empty around the house. When the snow and ice melted, I wore it walking. Each week I added gear. The full pack with sleeping bag and mat weighed twenty-five pounds, and my hiking boots weighed five. The whole "outfit" was hot and heavy, and this was flat land, but I had to condition. My kids looked puzzled and scared, "Mom, why are you doing this?"
"...because I said I would. Won't you be proud of me when I accomplish it?" They looked more pained than proud.

We heard people were betting for and against our success. Drag-out fees are expensive, especialy if a helicopter is needed. The 18 to 25 year-old males have the most problems. They don't know their pace. Not male, past 25, and not about to give up, I pre-addressed labels for the betters postcards, and prayed the losers would have to pay up.

Time to pack. I laid everything out on the bed that went in the backpack: large plastic bag to double as a raincoat, a change of clothes, chapstick, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush, sunscreen, small plastic bags, a squashed roll of toilet paper, baby wipes, camera, film, diary, pen, mess kit, canteen, knife made from B52 and shield, dehydrated soups, energy bars, dried fruit and nuts, graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, matches, two bottles of water, and prayers others asked me to carry to the Canyon floor. Donna would have the same plus the tent and firecrackers in case of emergency.

The list is so long, no wonder the pack is heavy. And I had a first aid kit, candles, flashlight, aspirin, and moleskin for those blisters.

Just for a picture, I put on all the gear and George's coonskin cap with horns and smiled. The pith helmet was too hot and heavy and I passed on the spats.

Papa and George took me to the Lincoln Airport in the rain. Papa said, "You're doing this backwards: fly, bus, drive, walk." We hugged and prayed. He fought tears. I bit my lip.
"I'll call you as soon as I get to Donna's." This was it. As I walked away, it hit me. What if I didn't make it back alive? I turned, went back, hugged Papa, and told him the words I wanted him to remember me by, "I love you."

(more later)

copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series

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