"People have to eat," he said. "So I'd love to have this area turn out to be a popular Nordic travelway, to give economic hope to locals without heavy construction going through these fragile meadows."
We slept until seven, though disturbed memorably in the night by a sound across the valley that at first was sirens, then dissolved into yips and canine song. There seemed no fewer than eight coyotes in that convocation, but they are famous for sounding many and being few. Babbitt slipped right back to sleep, announcing this with a snore.
Again the morning snow was icy crust. Once moving, letting the skis run in the tracks left by a party that had begun a day and a half ahead of us, I found that the deepest ruts had ice ridges on both sides that clutched at my boots. Often the pack seized upon such an unsteady moment and hurled me to the ground.
Babbitt had been getting sore toes from the tracks, too, but he'd been thinking about other things. While I passed dried fruit to him, he said, "I'm deciding that what we've been crossing is so fine that it ought to be attached to the National Park." Later, Shanks explained that this would be tough. "There is always vehement opposition to placing land under more restrictive use," he said. "Grazing and mining permits lose their market value."
At last we reached Kaibab Lodge, which, like the road, was closed for the winter, so promised no shelter or warmth, only a reference point. We melted snow there and regathered. Kluetmeier was behind, growing ill. "I've been incubating something for a couple of days," he said. "I'll be all right." Babbitt took 20 pounds of Kluetmeier's gear. I fed him hot chocolate and skied behind him the rest of the day. We were bound six more miles, to the ranger's cabin at the national park boundary.
My heels were blistering, but the snow had softened and we made good progress. At last we struggled into the little cabin, crawling clumsily from the snow through the top half of a Dutch door. It was warm. Shanks had preceded us and had a fire roaring in the wood stove. He had made hot peppermint tea, which he gave me in a tin cup with milk and sugar. It was as if it had come from St. Peter. I sat and ached and gasped. When I pulled off my boots I found bloody socks.
Quiroz never seemed so fresh as at these end-of-day reunions. He told a story about confronting a German tourist ("The people visiting the canyon are never from Arizona," said Babbitt) he'd seen earlier with a Perrier bottle. Later, bottleless, the man wouldn't confess to having littered. "I asked him how he would feel," said Quiroz, "if someone left empty bottles at the bases of the flying buttresses of the cathedral in Cologne. He got a funny look on his face, raced back down the trail, found the bottle and came up, waving it, apologetic, saying now he understood, now he saw the canyon for what it really was."
Kluetmeier couldn't keep any food or liquids down. Babbitt issued the only direct order of the trip: Kluetmeier would sleep on one of the two cots, near the stove.
As I drifted to sleep, filled with ache, contemplating more of the same the following day, I said to the governor of Arizona, "If this is your idea of a refreshing break, your job must be really hideous." He laughed, as at an unexpected compliment.
In the morning, we shoved off early. Babbitt now referred to the four men who had taken a different trail the day before as "environmental hippies."