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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Wednesday, August 28
Onward and Upward On Mountain Bikes
ďI donít know of anybody whoís ever mountain biked it uphill,Ē said Arizona Trails Chief Trail Steward Larry Snead of todayís mountain bike leg on a segment of the Arizona Trail.
Well, he canít say that again.
Our trek team and alternate Jacob MacLeod joined Arizona Trails coordinators Dawson Henderson and Steve Anderson for a 19-mile ride ďupĒ the trail.
Why up? Because itís in the direction weíre heading, toward the Grand Canyon.
The first seven miles indeed climbed, but gradually. The difficulty was tracking through sand. The next 12 miles were steeper, including some short switchbacks, but the trail surface was firm. Loose and steep rocky sections were the exception.
Jacob and I paired up at the front of the group. Ahead was another day of fun-filled pedaling at our own speed. The trail was well-marked and mostly obvious but Richard and Julie may have a different version. At one point the path turned from an old road into the forest on a single-track trail. They missed the turn and added another mile, one-way, to their ride.
At another point Julie hit some sand and stopped abruptly, causing her to sail over her bike. She slammed her thigh on a handlebar causing a softball-size contusion. It had a striking purple and yellow color.
Jacob, too, hit such a sandy spot, and he too went over the handlebars. But Jacob, a quarter century younger than Julie, landed on his feet. At the same age I have no doubts that Julie would have landed doing handsprings.
Part of our ride took us to places where we could see the rim of the Grand Canyon. Between us and the rim was a timeless gulf of ponderosa forest. The sweeping, flowing nature of huge expanses of these natural forests tell me that creation tends toward perfection.
Again and again this view peeks back at us through the trees.
Bearing down on it with every crank of the pedal, the Grand Canyon and our adventures in it will soon be the order of the day.
Riding with Jacob delivered to me uncommon pleasures. On these special days when we are free to travel at our own speed, I am always alone. But not today.
Jacob rarely joins the trekkers because his duties do not allow him many breaks from shuttling vehicles and other support requirements.
Today is unlike any other day. The shuttles were just 14 miles one way so team leader Bob Hammond graciously exempted Jacob from helping move vehicles.
I was so pleased. Jacob is out of high school but has yet to experience his first year in college. Fitness and good health is a priority to him. Unless he has fooled me our cycling pace is similar. Early on I set a fast pace, according to Jacobís stated standard, but Jacob turned it on during the middle section of the trip. I was able to keep a visual on him as he ghosted through the trees ahead but thanks to the occasional gate he did not but once disappear. Often weíd be together on steeps where weíd churn through loose rocks and thick mats of pine needles. The time he disappeared - leaving me in his dust - I relaxed my rhythm at times to take photographs of the distant rim and to change batteries in the GPS, which I had fastened to the top of my helmet.
When I next saw Jacob he was sitting down, massaging his calves. Three miles to go.
Somewhere in the first of these three miles I inadvertently passed Jacob on a wheel-spinning climb over a rocky section. Jacob bounced off the trail but I managed to hold onto it. I didnít see him again until he arrived at the end of the trail.
He said that my early pace exhausted his glycogen - he said it more scientifically and eloquently than that - and that his calves hurt and he was running on empty. He was just being nice, but thatís Jacob. Heís an incredible asset to the team.

Hull Cabin, an historic place whose porch I have adopted as my sleeping quarters for two nights, is the site of our new campsite.
Hull Cabin is the first administrative site used by the early managers of the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
The gaps between the boards beneath me are filled with dirt from decades of wind-blown dust and dirt tread. Iím interested in the dirt tread. Although Hull Cabin is no longer used for anything other than sightseers, Iím appreciating the comfort it gives me. Iím out of the rain should the blessed stuff ever again fall. The surface is flat - no lumps.
Hull Cabin is also the place where the team shouted glee and chants of victory when I pedaled up to it on my mountain bike.
Team support is a many splendored thing.

Once we all arrived and quenched our thirst and hunger with cool drinks and snacks, Dawson Henderson and Steve Anderson drove some of us 12 miles to a place where we could get out and walk a mile to a fantastic Grand Canyon viewpoint.
It may be that I canít get enough of the Grand Canyon, the world wonder.
Along the hike to it nature again blessed us with the nature of things.
Pygmy Nuthatches, 20 or more in number, had clustered around the bottom three feet of a large ponderosa pine. They were voraciously feeding on something, or so it appeared, but what we did not know.
Most of the little gray birds scattered to nearby branches as we approached, but three or four stayed behind. Although we were just a few feet from them snapping photographs they continued their frenzied search among the cracks, crevices and holes of the tree.
We did not linger long. I glanced back to see that it took just a moment for the more skittish birds to once again land on the tree. So beautiful and perfect - so natural - were these birds that I yet again turned my attention to them. I decided to return for more photographs, this time with my telephoto lens attached so I could get better photos - I hoped - but from a greater distance. It worked.
I clicked off a dozen photographs.

I think that I could stand with my back to the Grand Canyon and snap beautiful photographs from over my shoulder. If I were an unsuspecting bird on a new flight path traveling at the tree tops approaching the Grand Canyon, Iíd faint or suffer a heart attack the moment the world opened beneath me. Iíd go from being an eagle to a chicken for the moment it took for me to realize what had happened.
Seeing the Grand Canyon twice in four days, Iím not just a little excited about our upcoming plan to hike down the Tanner Trail, float the Colorado River for two days and then hike from Phantom Ranch to the North Rim. Iím thrilled to pieces! I must have done something right.

Ever wonder how trails such as the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail get planned and developed? Years of hard work by devoted people, thatís how.
The Arizona Trail (AZTRAIL.ORG), a 790-mile non-motorized trail from Mexico to Utah through Arizona, is in the works. It has been from its inception in 1985 when school teacher Dale Shewater first envisioned the trail.
Now, with Chief Trail Steward Larry Snead leading the charge and Dawson Henderson and Steve Anderson assisting, the Arizona Trail is just 160 miles from completion.
The trail is almost entirely on public land with the exception of the Babbitt Ranch. The ranch, whose gigantic land holdings are managed with the ideas of Aldo Leopold in mind, has donated a right-of-way for the trail. Whatís even better about that is the right-of-way has been donated to the county so that the county will be the land manager.
Furthermore, once the Arizona Trail is completed and designated, the public land agencies on which the trail goes will maintain it.
From what we learned the users of the Arizona Trail will see tremendous diversity and incredible wild places. The planners have worked hard to locate the trail in spectacular areas while being sensitive to nature and cultural sites. In fact, through the years the trail planners have moved it to protect habitat values and cultural areas.
Looking at the map of the trail I see that a portion of it goes through the Superstition Wilderness near Apache Junction, a place I learned to love when I worked there as a wilderness ranger a decade ago.
On its east side I watched a sleek black rattlesnake slither past where I was eating lunch.
Iíll never forget that snake or my time in the Superstition Wilderness. Thereís nothing like the Upper Sonoran Desert in February and March, especially in a wet year. Rich with vibrant colors - explosions of cactus blooms. The fragranceÖhmm!
The Arizona Trail, from what I have seen, is worth a look.
for Wednesday, August 28
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
An experienced outdoorsman, Jan Nesset knows that everyone has to pitch in at camp
A native of Montana and the third of four children, Jan Nesset joins American...
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List of All Journal Entries
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Wednesday, April 28
Jan Nesset
American Frontiers: Part II: Taking Stock
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Sunday, December 1
Jan Nesset
Canyonlands in December
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Thursday, November 21
Jan Nesset
Snow Raspberry Bounty
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Sunday, November 17
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The Bisti Badlands
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Friday, November 15
Jan Nesset
Public Land Flows Through It
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Thursday, November 7
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A Day At Earth Analytic's Home
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Tuesday, October 29
Jan Nesset
Slot Canyon Adventure
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Monday, October 28
Jan Nesset
Some Things Never Change
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Sunday, October 27
Jan Nesset
Back To The Wave
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Monday, October 7
Jan Nesset
The Thing About Summits
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Saturday, September 28
Jan Nesset
A New Beginning: National Public Lands Day
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Thursday, September 26
Jan Nesset
Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
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Wednesday, September 25
Jan Nesset
History-Coated Strawberry
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Tuesday, September 24
Jan Nesset
The Last Of It
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Monday, September 23
Jan Nesset
Dinosaurlandia
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Sunday, September 22
Jan Nesset
Over The Edge
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Saturday, September 21
Jan Nesset
God Bless America
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Friday, September 20
Jan Nesset
Sometimes It's A Tough Life And We Get To Do It
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Thursday, September 19
Jan Nesset
The Niche Near You
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Wednesday, September 18
Jan Nesset
Snow Day
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Tuesday, September 17
Jan Nesset
A Capitol Reef Bull's Eye
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Monday, September 16
Jan Nesset
A Lucky Rift
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Sunday, September 15
Jan Nesset
Riding The Hog's Back
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Saturday, September 14
Jan Nesset
Oh Rhythm My Rhythm
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Friday, September 13
Jan Nesset
Precious Images
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Thursday, September 12
Jan Nesset
From the Hole to the Staircase
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Wednesday, September 11
Jan Nesset
Happy Days
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Tuesday, September 10
Jan Nesset
Do You Believe In Magic?
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Monday, September 9
Jan Nesset
The Bridge Over the River Why
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Sunday, September 8
Jan Nesset
Public Lands And…Not You?
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Saturday, September 7
Jan Nesset
That Place So Special
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Friday, September 6
Jan Nesset
Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!
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Thursday, September 5
Jan Nesset
Do The Wave
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Wednesday, September 4
Jan Nesset
The Condors Are Coming!
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Tuesday, September 3
Jan Nesset
Fires Are For The Birds
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Monday, September 2
Jan Nesset
Back On Top
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Sunday, September 1
Jan Nesset
Perfection
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Saturday, August 31
Jan Nesset
The Wheels Have Left The Tarmac
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Friday, August 30
Jan Nesset
Star Light
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Thursday, August 29
Jan Nesset
The Traditional Connection
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Wednesday, August 28
Jan Nesset
Onward and Upward On Mountain Bikes
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Tuesday, August 27
Jan Nesset
Checkerboard Kings and Queens
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Monday, August 26
Jan Nesset
Aldo Leopold As Ranch Manager
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Sunday, August 25
Jan Nesset
A Story In Everything
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Saturday, August 24
Jan Nesset
Fire In The Whole
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Friday, August 23
Jan Nesset
"Good Morning, Flagstaff!"
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Thursday, August 22
Jan Nesset
Hoping For The Best
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Wednesday, August 21
Jan Nesset
Could Get Stinky
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Tuesday, August 20
Jan Nesset
Wheels Asunder
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Monday, August 19
Jan Nesset
Hurt Me, Thank You!
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Sunday, August 18
Jan Nesset
Roads Aplenty and Rocks of Pleasure
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Saturday, August 17
Jan Nesset
Of Dragons and Fire
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Friday, August 16
Jan Nesset
Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
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Thursday, August 15
Jan Nesset
Puzzled
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Wednesday, August 14
Jan Nesset
A Day Off, Sort Of
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Tuesday, August 13
Jan Nesset
A Delightful, Light Day
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Monday, August 12
Jan Nesset
Courage On Eagle Mountain
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Sunday, August 11
Jan Nesset
Farewell
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Saturday, August 10
Jan Nesset
My Aching Back In The Saddle
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Friday, August 9
Jan Nesset
Back In The Saddle
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Thursday, August 8
Jan Nesset
In The Saddle
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Wednesday, August 7
Jan Nesset
Shut My Mouth!
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Tuesday, August 6
Jan Nesset
Diversity and Song
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Monday, August 5
Jan Nesset
An Unraveling
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Sunday, August 4
Jan Nesset
A Bagged Peak
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Saturday, August 3
Jan Nesset
Lines On A Map
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Friday, August 2
Jan Nesset
GPS-Marriage Made In Heaven
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Thursday, August 1
Jan Nesset
Free Wheelin'
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Wednesday, July 31
Jan Nesset
An Excellent Start
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