Saturday, June 15, 2013
Three Legged Adventure
Text by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina
The concept is simple. We have failed twice.
Begin near the river on the main canyon. Leg one: Hike the rim of a deep side canyon toward its source. Leg two: Drop into the side canyon and hike/scramble down to the main canyon. Leg three: Float the river back to our starting point.
On our first attempt, we failed to account for both the depth of the side canyon and the verticality of the walls that defined it. We weren't able to find a way down into the narrow passage of the canyon.
On this, our second attempt, armed with our previous experience and additional research, we… er… well… We failed to account for both the depth of the side canyon and the verticality of the walls that defined it and we weren't able to find a way down into the narrow passage of the canyon.
On the first occasion we were able to follow a less dramatic route down to the river where we floated a short way back to our starting point. On this occasion we were able to follow a less dramatic route down to the river. But instead of floating down to our starting point, we turned the other way. We walked and thrashed our way through willows and tamarisk. Sketched our way over loose talus. Picked our way past high cliffs and through boulder fields as we headed upriver. After enduring the drama of scratched shins, we -- at last -- made it to the lower end of the side canyon we'd been trying to reach.
We dropped our rafts near the bottom and scrambled up the canyon. It was everything we'd hoped for. Narrow. Deep. Convoluted. Interesting. Each twisting turn of the sandstone drew us onward. Wondering. What is around the next corner? Wondering. Could we keep going further. Higher. Until the cut of the canyon grew shallow. Until at last we would be able to stride out and onto the rim. To where we had hoped to find our way in?
Or would we come to an impassable pour-off? A dry waterfall and a cliff too steep and high to climb. No way up. No way around. Dead end. Turn around. Go back.
We didn't have time to find out. Only so much daylight remained. We did turn around. We did go back. Back to the rafts we'd left near the river. Into the river. One splashy rapid we ran without dogs. Then floating onward down the river canyon to where we'd begun our day. Content, maybe, to leave the mystery for another day.