Saturday, November 20, 2021

Down And Up Again: A Grand Canyon Holiday - Across II

I cannot remember the last time I woke up to a river or stream or really any body of water. It is an overwhelming sense of both peace and activity, quite different from the usual wake up call I experience.

Today is another day undulating back and forth between the River bank and the Canyon Walls. We go up and down, rising and descending the different color rock strata

Two days of doing this has begun to equip me with the ability to see the trail on the canyon walls – not instinctively of course, like an actual guide, but at least in the contours of what is coming up. This is a hopeful improvement.

We hit a high point and overlook Unkar Delta, which looks much more like a sand spit. Humans dwelt here 1,000 years ago, planting corn and beans. It is somewhat hard for me to believe that people lived in the Grand Canyon most of the time. What a different existence that must have been.

We descend from that overlook to Unkar Beach, which is a much smaller version of Escalante Beach. We take a lunch break here; some people soak their feet. I watch the River.

After lunch, we head up again out onto the Canyon walls. The walking is more straight and level now and the air has heated up (the hottest it will be during our hike). The rocks here are red, a deep red that seems to support very little at all. I am reminded of Sam and Frodo as the trudge through the rubble in front of Mt Doom.

It is quiet today – as it has been every day of this hike. There are only occasional grasshoppers and scarcely a bird to be seen or heard, let alone any wildlife which is larger. The Canyon runs with a deep silence, where the River does not run.

Our hike ends tonight at Tanner Beach, both the terminus of the Escalante Trail which we have been following as well as the terminus of the Tanner Trail, which we will take tomorrow to get out of the Canyon. Far in the distance I can see the Desert Tower, a 1930’s building that was in the parking lot where we last used the restroom. That will become our North Star for the first part of the hike tomorrow.

Tanner Beach is more like the river beaches I have known, rocks mixed in with sand. There is wind and the potential of rain, so we all put our rain flys up on the off chance of a little moisture. I set mine in a small grove surrounded by trees.

That night after dinner (jambalaya) and our roses and thorns accounts (and there are no thorns tonight), we are each given a trail name by The Commissioner. They are all strangely applicable to us and we laugh as they are given – The Commissioner has an astute eye for personal characteristics and mannerism.

Of me, he notes that I did not have any idea what I was getting into (I did not) and he appreciated my comment every night, including this one, that “I did not die”. My trail name hereafter when I hike with his company will be “Survivor”.

Survivor. I like it.

The wind is not nearly as strong as the previous nights and no rain comes – although as it turns out the trees I am surround by is the home to some kind of insect or small animals, which chirp and crick through the night. The night is cloudy so there would be no stars, but the rain fly keeps the nature of my besiegers a mystery.

Which is, perhaps, as well. We all still need a little mystery in our lives.


  1. Your pictures of this trip, as always, are spectacular. Thank you for sharing the adventure with us.

    1. You are very welcome, Reverend. I know a great many people have not been able to have regular vacations since The Plague started (I have not before this trip). Hopefully a little sharing of an adventure can make up for that in some small way.

  2. More puzzles in the making, TB. As the Reverend said, wonderful pictures.
    Survivor fits you well. :)
    You all be safe and God bless.

    1. Thank you Linda. I am grateful that I got to see these and take the pictures (and share them).

      Survivor works, especially as I think about it more.

  3. "Survivor" is a lovely trail name! Probably more applicable to the rest of your life than the Commissioner realizes. :)

    Great narrative and photos, as we have come to expect. I have to admit, though, that since taking my PDC and learning about permaculture in arid climates, I'm seeing deserts through different eyes. Not that I would wish anyone to change the desolate beauty of the Grand Canyon, but I now search my neural information stores for how it could be turned into a permaculture paradise.

    1. Leigh - It was surprisingly fitting (and probably reveals one of my biggest concerns). The Commissioner has the gift, as I think the head of my sword school does, of looking into the souls and seeing traits through behavior. I wish I had that more.

      In terms of permaculture - in point of fact, it was used as such once upon a time. And they did it with none of the modern conveniences that we currently have at our disposal. It is an instructive lesson in how to adapt and overcome -surely they had practices which allowed them to sustain themselves regularly.

      In some ways I suspect, such older cultures would have a great deal to teach us, if we could learn the lessons and be willing to absorb them (and, of course, treat them as lessons instead of including the obligatory sociopolitical rant).

  4. We too had a ceremony where we were given names though I don't remember mine anymore. I'm sure it had something to do with my journal which many always asked what I was writing down every evening by the light of the campfire. I did get a special award for walking every mile of every hike we took. I still have that rock somewhere in one of my dresser drawers.

    1. Ed, it was honestly a nice touch. And The Commissioner had a keen eye for personalities.

      I took a journal, but honestly found neither the urge nor the energy to write (and in our case, no campfire and loss of sunlight at 6:30 PM). I am not fully decided if it was a good development or not; I miss having the immediate impressions, but did find the lack of "needing" to have an entry and just concentrating on the moment a good feeling.


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