Sunday , March 25 , 2001
We ate a pocket breakfast and departed our
campsite by a little after 7 am. We were pleased to see that the Beavertail
Cactus had opened a dozen or more of it’s magenta-petaled flowers. On a flat
rock just past Demaray Point someone had laid out many Indian artifact for
viewing. Any artifacts that are discovered in the canyon should be
left where they are found. As the group neared Phantom Ranch Anna
Marie wrinkled her nose and mused, "I think I smell the mules!" Pat
and Terri later disclosed that they both secretly worried it might be them. As
we cruised into our "Phantom Ranch oasis" by 11:30 am., Laura greeted
Pat with the great news that we indeed had secured cabin #6 for our last night
in the canyon. Delightful hot showers were enjoyed by all and the research began
through flower books, hiking manuals, and maps provided at the canteen. All
three contributed more data for our journal notes. Pat tried to describe the
location of our Tonto campsite to Scott and a worker from Texas, he and others
were happy to hear Terri’s tale of the trip to Chevaya Falls. As Pat surfed
her camera for just the right snap of the elusive campsite photo to show Scott,
she mused " I sure wish I knew where I slept last night…", That
raised several eyebrows and elicited more than a few hearty laughs in the
canteen. Later on, the gaming began. Terri taught us how to play Liverpool
rummy, which captured our attention until we were kicked out for 5:00 P.M.
dinner preparations. We joined Ranger Pam’s presentation on desert botanicals
and discovered many interesting facts about the plants we observed on our
The abundant Prickly Pear Cactus has a houseguest
– the female Cochineal Bug. This
small red bug was a natural source of red dye and was used by the English to dye
their “Redcoats” and was the ingredient used to color the red strips in the
first American Flags.
The Century Plants or Agaves, can grow up to seven inches per day. Its fibers were used by Native Americans to make paintbrushes and brooms.
The most important part of the Banana Yucca is the fiber found deep inside its blades. It was used to weave baskets, mats, and sandals.
Mormon Tea is a medicinal plant used to manufacture Afedra. This is the main ingredient in Sudafed for nasal congestion.
Although many species of trees are apparent on the North Rim on the Grand Canyon, the South Rim has only three main species: Ponderosa Pine whose needles smell like vanilla, Pinion Pine which is used to make pesto from Pinion Pine nuts, and Utah Juniper whose berries are ground into flour and also used to make gin. In addition, Navajo women used the pounded, softened fibers from the bark of the Utah Juniper as an absorbent, washable, and reusable material for diapers.
The quality of dinner cuisine stunned us considering our location; fresh salad with palm hearts and asparagus, warm corn bread, two different veggies, baked potatoes, and a generous juicy steak graced the family style meal. Pat initiated an evening stroll but promptly aborted the trip due to her painful blister. This is our only concern as we plan our ascent up the Bright Angel trail tomorrow. We donated our unneeded water bottles and rope at the ranger station, then returned to the canteen for a vicious game of Scrabble. Pat’s repeated attempts to convince Terri and Anna Marie to accept "ai" as a word failed miserably since the closest dictionary was 10 miles uphill, Pat’s opponents rejected her explanation that "ai" was a three toed African tree sloth. The uproar that followed amused the many friendly hikers who gathered there nightly for camaraderie. Asleep by 10:30, we all dreamed sweet dreams about our adventures so far.