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The Grand Canyon Boucher Trail: Almost Barefoot (Sigh)

May 3, 2015

“The Boucher Trail is arguably the most difficult and demanding of the south side trails.” (From the National Park Service description:

For the reason above–as well as the fact that I was jointly responsible (as a WFR assistant) for the well-being of the eight participants who signed up for the Grand Canyon Field Institute’s “Hands-on Springs Survey Backpack: Hermit-Boucher-Slate”–I reluctantly donned socks and sandals for most of last week’s Grand Canyon adventures (40-ish miles of backpacking and day-hiking from the Hermit’s Rest trailhead to the far reaches of Slate Creek, with side excursions up and down Hermit and Boucher drainages documenting springs and plants).

Without my Merrell Pipidae Wrap sandals (which are awesome: amazingly light, flexible, and tough! and for those reasons no longer manufactured!) I could not have kept up with the determined group as they trekked up and down and over and through this Grand world of ancient shattered rock.

In the side canyons, though, those miraculous places of seeps and springs and green life, I was able to shed the sandals and experience the pleasure of desert water and storm-sculpted stone: aaahhhh.

It’s “too soon” to be able to process it all in words, so I’ll just post these images and continue to think and write about this awe-filled experience that I was fortunate to share last week with two extraordinary trip leaders and eight plucky hikers ranging in age from 17-70.

Happy (almost-barefoot, Grand Canyon) Trails!

Barefoot at the Grand Canyon

“Toes on the nose” Grand Canyon style. Who needs a wave when you can ride rocks like these?

Barefoot bouldering

The rock-and-green beauty of side canyons; here is where all the life thrives . . . where streams trickle or drip or gush from ancient rock layers.

Barefoot stream scrambling

The sheer light-footed delight of scrambling up wet-or-dry rock layers! I was well on my way back to age 12 for a while there . . .

Merrell Pipidae Wrap sandals

Q: Why am I wearing sandals in this delightful stream? A: I just did 3 miles of rock-hopping barefoot; it was time for sensory break. (Motto: if it’s not fun, put something on.)

Bare feet and Hermit Rapids

Hermit Rapids along the mighty Colorado River. As is the case everywhere in this wild world of rock and water, distances and scale are difficult to perceive.

Above (Hermit?) Rapids

Far above the Colorado River . . . and maybe Hermit Rapids?

backpacking in sandals

With 30-35 pounds to carry (water weighs!), and a group of hikers to keep up with, I had to go with wool socks and Merrell Pipidae “barefoot” sandals (a truly wonderful piece of footwear that took me through every day of this past school year, and then to the Hermit-Boucher-Slate trail complex of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim).

end of the day barefoot

One of my hiking companions (on left) wore Vibrams in camp at the end of the day, as well as on one of our side canyon stream-and-rock-hopping treks. Our “campfire” is a Luci Lux solar inflatable lantern by Very cool.

Grand Canyon sunrise from below

The morning light on the highest Canyon layers . . . our daily routine/astonishment.

Prickly pear at Grand Canyon

So many beautiful cactus in bloom: yellow here, red and rose and pink and magenta elsewhere.

This bootless plateau lizard  seems to negotiate his home stone just fine. I aspire to such free toes.

This bootless plateau lizard seems to negotiate his home stone just fine. I aspire to such free toes.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Paula Peeters permalink
    May 4, 2015 3:28 am

    Beautiful! Thanks for bringing back fond memories of the hiking the Grand Canyon many moons ago. I look forward to seeing more about your trip. Cheers, Paula


  1. Seven lessons learned in seven years of barefoot hiking/trail running | Barefoot Wandering and Writing

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