Monday, August 26, 2013
Down in the Canyon
Words by Greg
Photos by Greg, Trina, Chelsea
We hike the steep trail where there is still a trail. Where there is no longer a trail, we step carefully around drying mud, around freshly rearranged boulders, through the bottom of the gully, now stripped of vegetation. Now piled with uprooted vegetation, stripped. Torn grass stalks and tree limbs and brush are caught in stronger trees, head-high where the water crashed through and down into the canyon. We bear our burdens upon our shoulders and we step down. Into the canyon.
Down into the canyon, down to the river. The recent rains, the recent floods have muddied the water. The eddies of the muddied river are solid with dark bark, floating freely, stripped from trees by violent water. Pine needles pad the edges of the river. Spiny green pads torn from prickly pear cactus wash in the shallows. Raw earth and rock, both torn away and freshly heaped, have redecorated the canyon.
On the river, she and I in our small rafts, two dogs, one proudly upon each bow. The other two in a large leaky raft they've borrowed. We bounce through rapids. We float eyes-up through scenic calm stretches. We marvel at the recent high water line where floods ran three feet higher than the water we float. On down the canyon.
We stop the scout the tough spots, to determine if the dogs ride the rafts or if they walk the shore. To determine if two people have enough power to steer the big raft, or if Trina and I get to make three in that boat. Get to run the rapid a second time.
We find a spot to camp, down in the canyon. Where walls pull back enough to leave a swath of high grass. To leave bare dirt where others have stayed the night. We rest. Chat. Eat. Nap. Hike into a steep side canyon. Listen to birds and crickets. Let dogs hunt grasshoppers. Sleep. Then wake and pack and float again. Down the canyon.
The walls grow close again. The water remains muddy. The river surges between rocks, some fresh, some solid as rock. Above, the blue sky is a bright stripe crowded with bright clouds. Below, the toughest rapids challenge us. Water boils. Hearts pound. But all goes smoothly and we emerge from the last rapid. Grinning.
It grows calm further down in the canyon. The floating more serene. The walls close once more then open wide to wider views. We steer though riffles in sunshine. We paddle lazily. But the river pulls us down the canyon. To the end. For now.