Saturday, October 16, 2010


School School School!  
First of all... Prescott College ROCKS!  Orientation ROCKED!  There were 9 students in my group with 2 great alumni leaders.  Despite purposely lying on my application form, saying that I can't swim, I was placed on the most water intensive course.  My group hiked two slot canyons about 45 minutes from Prescott.  The first was West Clear Creek, where we started at the mouth of the canyon and hiked 9 days, some through the creek in the canyon, some across the dry hot mesa above the canyon (to avoid overly technical areas).  The 9th day, we swam for the first time through three icy cold pools, then hiked through painfully dense shrubby ground cover (all plants in the desert are sharp!) out of the canyon, then across the mesa to a farm to meet up with two other groups on our course for 're-supply'. 
I'll answer a couple questions you probably have...    No we did not change our shoes to hike through the creek.  We wore our boots.  Some of the creek crossings were ankle deep, some were waist deep.   To swim with a 65 pound backpack on, you simply walk into the water until your feet don't touch the bottom and you just keep 'walking' forward.  It's actually more like riding a bicycle than it is walking.  The backpack floats because it is lined with at least six trash bags which are tied off at the top, so they hold a lot of air.  'Waterproofed' backpacks float so well that by the end of the trip I had mastered the swim so well that my bellybutton didn't even touch the water.

After 're-supply', the three groups split up and our group hiked 13 miles across the mesa to the rim of the Wet Beaver Canyon.  (Don't worry, we heard every joke in the book.)  The second half of the trip, we swam every day, all day.  We hiked, we waded, we crossed the creek, we crossed the creek again, we swam, we crossed, we waded, we swam... then we camped.  And ate.  Both canyons were so stunningly beautiful, it was such a privilege to sleep beneath the stars every night and wake up knowing that the day would, again, be long and hot. 

Between the Orientation 'block' and the fall semester there is a week of 'student directed days'.  It's just a break.  So Shaun and I piled in the old subaru (now named Loretta) with our roommate and some new friends and drove as fast as we could through the desert at night to see the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean.  We took our sweet time driving up the breathtaking Highway 1 to spend 2 days in San Fransisco at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.  We had the amazing fortune of staying in the yard of one of our friends houses with 15 or so other Prescott College students literally a stone's throw from the beach, 10 miles north of San Fran.

Ok, enough about how amazing my first month of school was.  October has been the 'real' first month.  I have actually had to sit in a classroom and read books and have discussions with classmates.  Fortunately the classes are awesome and one of my three classes requires me to hike around in the woods or the desert for the entire day.  Last Thursday my class attempted to summit a mountain.  

I can't wait to see what's in store for the winter block and spring semester!  All the classes here look so great I'm dreading having to choose!  As a bonus for the 11 half of the 10-11 school year, Shaun just got accepted and will start his wilderness orientation in January, hiking a section of the Grand Canyon.  Yeah!  I know!  I'm so excited I can hardly even type!

I still can't believe that I live in Arizona.  And am going to school?!   Everything is working out so well here (finally!), we should have moved ages ago.
Now off to do homework (on the desk I built today)... hopefully I can get it finished tonight so tomorrow I can attend the second weekly meeting of Club Sandwich, an exclusive club only for friends of the Bear Claw Household (that's us) that rock climbs in the morning and makes kick ass sandwiches for dinner in the evening.  This weeks sandwich is pulled pork which I plan to eat on our roommate's new trampoline.

In other Bear Claw news, the fish tank actually has fish in it now, 7 of them... The dogs are both doing great, just being dogs as usual.  I've taught them a great new trick called 'Go See the Chickens'.  On the command, Go See the Chickens, both dogs run out the door as fast as they can to the backyard to see the chickens.  This trick was inspired by the awful discovery that an intruder had killed two of our four chickens.  Bad luck for chickens on this property... maybe the fourth time will be a charm.

That's all for now folks.  Another long blog in a month or so?