"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Grand Canyon Journals, Chapter Eight: The Magic between a Rock and a Hard Place

Day two of our Road Scholar guided hikes:

We loaded up in two vans and headed north from Marble Canyon. towards the northern border of Arizona.

Joanna pulled off the road and we once again "saddled up" with day packs. Hiking poles were optional today, but I chose to take mine along. We walked across the desert for a ways with a stray dog following us.

Eventually we came to the entry point of a slot canyon. I had been looking forward to this hike. I'd never been in a slot canyon before, and knew only that they are deadly in the wrong weather. It can rain far away, without your knowledge, and suddenly a flash flood fills the canyon.

Joanna checking our entry point into the canyon.

The dog waited patiently while we climbed down the steep walls of the canyon....

then it joined us at the bottom.

Eventually we reached the true "slot" parts of the slot canyon: taller than your head and you can touch both sides at the same time.

This should qualify, no?

Water-carved formations.

This lady is 81 years old.

At one point, we had to "chimney" up a narrow spot.

A juvenile rattlesnake, the most dangerous kind. They haven't yet learned the difference between predator and prey, or how to control the amount of venom they excrete. Jack, our assistant guide, stayed by the snake to make sure all of us--including the dog--passed safely.

The dog didn't have any problem running up the chimney. She waited patiently again as we reached the spot that stopped us from going any farther up the canyon.

No way for this group to get up that vertical climb.

So, we posed for a group photo....

...while the dog waited.

Then, back down the chimney on our butts.

And out on top. Before we came out, we'd stopped for lunch at the bottom, sharing it with the faithful dog.

She followed us back to the vans. The dog was clean and did not appear to be starving, and was well-mannered and polite. And faithful. Though a female, she did not appear to have borne numerous litters of pups, as you'd expect with a stray. The nearest homes were several miles away, but it's always possible that's where she came from each day. Commuting to her job, so to say.

We decided that this was how she made her living--being a faithful companion to hikers in the canyon. She'd wandered off with a couple other hikers once or twice, but always came running back to us.

Leaving her there at the parking place was difficult.

"This is worse than a Disney movie," said Joanna. The rest of us didn't say anything. We were all a bit choked up.



  1. I love that canyon! I can't describe how the awesome colors, shapes and striations affect me. The way the walls are wavy is so pleasing to the eye.

    I'm in love with your faithful canine guide as you were. I feel a lump in my throat after seeing him in these photos and reading your narrative.

    I appreciate that you risked your life to get these photos when you very possibly could have been washed away by a faraway rain and resulting flood.

    You'll be like the 81 year old hiker several years down the road, agile and still adventuresome.

  2. I'm with Shaddy. That canyon is remarkable and the photos make the canyon walls look like shape-shifters, with Georgia O'Keefe colors. Very affecting. And the dog -- makes me think there's a good reason why dog is God spelled backwards.