A few days ago the Wise-Ones and John-Sons hatched a spontaneous plan to hike Hidden Canyon. I won't say who, but Susan (oops) sometimes gets a little nervous in precipitous places. Like Angel's Landing, Hidden Canyon Trail is not for the faint of heart.
There are a few stretches on the approach to Hidden Canyon where a hiker is exposed to dizzying vertical drops. I was concerned not so much for Susan's safety, but for her comfort level; After all, hiking should be fun. However, there is something to be said for challenging the outer limits of one's comfort zone once in a while. Challenge, by its very nature, requires intensity and risk in order for it to be compelling, and living an un-compelling life is a little like drinking three point two beer; there's just no gusto!
But "Susan is a really good hiker." We know this because she repeats it over and over like some Hail Mary Mantra when one of Zion's sketchier trails begins to shrink out from under her. It's sort of a "you can do this" confidence builder. Wasn't it Dale Carnegie who said, "always focus on the positive?" Situationally, one should precede that with, "When about to die."
We parked the car, donned packs and strode confidently toward the trailhead, not yet mentioning the dubious nature of Hidden Canyon Trail to Susan. On the way I noticed a cute little camper-van with a distinctive European license plate. On the side, in bold lettering was, "Alfonso On Tour." This peaked Susan's curiosity, and thus began The Search For Alfonso.
|In addition to "Alfonso On Tour," we found another mode of "touring" in the same parking lot. This bike must weigh in at over a hundred pounds, at least. I figured we'd recognize the owner by the size of his quads.|
Realistically, what are the odds of finding Alfonso, or anyone, for that matter? We didn't even know what Alfonso looked like, although the way Susan said his name, "Aul-fawnzo," I think she imagined he would be ruggedly handsome... with dashing dark hair, eyes to match, fair olive skin... maybe a four day beard. Boy, was she going to be disappointed.
Normally poor odds scares the bejesus out of accountants; I dare you to find a single number cruncher in Vegas. But not Susan. She began to question "Alfonso-looking" people we met along the trail, "Are you Alfonso? Have you seen Alfonso?" It seemed to distract her from a trail barely etched into the side of a cliff, so we indulged her with the occasional eye-roll and grin.
It was a delightful hike, Hidden Canyon. Layers of gossamer clouds filtered and diffused harsh sun, softening pink canyon walls to baby's cheeks. Desert varnish wept from rims, organic tears of time. Refracted light set a torch to Maples in various stages of Autumnal undress. We sand-slogged the canyon floor... shinnied up the occasional cache of boulders taking it all in. Bobbie and Maikel climbed past the obvious and sane turn-around point, while Susan and I sat it out on a humungous boulder; just your casual chit chat... life, death and bucket lists half emptied.
Heading back, we stopped at the mouth of Hidden Canyon to explore a series of potholes... beautiful evidence of erosion over eons. Distinctive stratums of subtlety hued sediments lined graceful bowls carved by intermittent flash floods. Sand and water... Natures all-powerful knife.
Further down we pushed the "pause" button in order for me to wander out to a precipitous ledge for an Eagle's eye photo op of our switchbacking trail and the parking lot... far, far below. Laying on my stomach, arms extended over the abyss, I snapped two quick photos. Suddenly, a wave acrophobia swept in. Rather than stand, I rolled to safety... and had a dangerously close encounter with a log of human poo.
When I returned, Susan had found Alfonso. Unfortunately, he already had a girlfriend, Andrea.
What a lovely couple... stunning in their brilliant fleece jackets. I asked if I could take their photo and if they had a website. Yes to both, a "Tour" blog at: http://www.alfonsoontour.blogspot.com/
To have a look at their cool camper van go to: http://www.alfonsoontour.blogspot.com/p/alfonso.html
Upon returning home we looked up their website. It turns out that Alfonso is the name of their camper van, and Leandro is the name of the guy on tour. His blog is written in some De Durbien language... probably Swiss. I don't think Leandro spoke or understood English as Andrea did all the talking. She spoke fair English, but I must have had a senior moment when she gave me their website... "dabadoo dabadoo dabadoo dote elphonso own ture dote blugsput dote comb." She looked confused when I asked her to please spell "dabadoo."
Needless to say, I felt pretty stupid when the "light bulb" finally came on. Sheesh.