Two weekends ago we were privileged to attend what I like to call M.O.S.S. or the McConkie Outdoor Survival School. The destination for this test of endurance was the Grand Canyon. This wasn’t the typical camping trip I am used to from my youth. (Drive up to overlook. “Look, there it is.” Drive away.) Over the weekend we hiked a total of 27 miles. Sunday (the day of “rest”) we hiked along the North Rim five miles out to Wildfross point and back. There was great scenery and wildlife all along the way.

Then Monday morning we did a grueling 17 mile hike going 5,000 feet down into the Grand Canyon and back out in the same day. We ran the first several miles into the canyon. Other tourists on foot and mule gawked in amazement: “Crazy.” “They won’t be doing that one the way out.” Nevertheless, we galloped down the North Kaibab Trail as the plant life, rock strata, and temperature changed around us. The rest of the clan got a bit ahead of me when I realized the precarious way the trail was carved into the side of a cliff about 2-3 miles in and I froze in my tracks as the vertigo overtook my mind. After inching along the trail clinging to the wall for a while, I found them all waiting for me at the beginning of some more switchbacks.

The hike continued down and down. We stop and refilled our water and dunked our shirts and selves in a creek. A rattlesnake shook his rattle at us from inside a pile of rocks he was hiding in. And finally we found our way to Ribbon Falls, our destination. It’s a beautiful little oasis in a side canyon with a long waterfall spraying from a cliff high above down onto a giant mossy stalagmite reaching up from the canyon floor.

After playing in the water and eating jerky, skittles, and granola bars, we began the ascent. As could be expected it was much like the descent except backwards and much slower and harder. Climbing out was like doing a sandy stair master for 5-6 hours straight. Somehow I didn’t notice the scary cliffs as much while walking past them this time. I was too busy hallucinating about dinner, my sleeping bag, and what I would put in my will.

Reaching the top is still kind of fuzzy in my memory. All I know is that, never has Dutch oven lasagna tasted so delicious.

PS The first two pictures are from another M.O.S.S. event: scaling snowy Mt. Magog in June.

4 thoughts on “M.O.S.S.

  1. Wow. Nice photos. Amazing achievement. Amazing “vacation.” Not like ours for sure!

    “Where’s the home of the Buffalo Wings? Make that two buckets, will you?”

  2. The first time the Merkets considered that hike, they were bringing a 14 year old boy out in a body bag. It is amazing that you accomplished this task and can live to tell about it. As far as I can tell there are still no fast food spots along the trail, right. The mules at the top took one look at me and freaked out. No way were they going to haul this big tub of lard down that scary trail. That rattle snake would have probably attacked you if he wasn’t so tired from the hike. It was one of his complimentary rattles as to say get lost. The North Rim is one of my favorite locations in this world. It is so majestic. We are in wonder.

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