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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Grand Canyon Journals, Chapter Ten: Last Hike at Marble Canyon

(NOTE: I had one of those 2 a.m. epiphanies during which I figured out why my photos haven't been enlarging full screen. It wasn't a flash of brilliance, but more of a "I could have had a V-8" flash of stupidity finally recognized. Has to do with resolution and all that stuff I don't understand, but had recently changed. The photos should enlarge now, and please do. Full screen is utterly amazing. Click once and when it opens in a separate window, click again for full screen. Works on my computer.)

Today was our last day hiking in the Marble Canyon area with Road Scholar. Tomorrow we were to travel to the South Rim where the headquarters of the Grand Canyon National Park and all the tourists were.

I was sure nothing would top yesterday's hike in Waterhole Slot Canyon, with its sensual curves in cinnamon and tangerine and lavender.

We drove a short distance from Marble Canyon Lodge, to the foothills of the Vermillion Cliffs. After a side trip, which I'll tell you about in a separate story, we started the day's hike.

We were going to hike Cathedral Wash, another water-carved gully through the sandstone and limestone of Marble Canyon. It started out pretty tame, the bottom of the gully covered in sand.

Then it started getting interesting.

Water stood in puddles in some places. Two weeks before this had been impassable following several days of rain. Washes, like slot canyons, are prone to flash floods.

We soon reached a place that I thought would be the end of this hike. Fifty feet down was the bottom of the gully, and I could see no way of getting down there without ropes and technical gear--of which we had none.

Joanna called a break. I watched her staring down the gully, lost in thought. I figured she was trying to think of a way to break the bad news to us. This hike was over.

The longer she sat there, the more certain I became.

I wandered around the area, taking pictures of patterns and formations.

Then Joanna called us together. This is it, I thought.

Instead, after a brief explanation of the game plan, down a small "vee" on the far side she went.

She crawled along this ledge--and waited for us.

Now things were really getting exciting. Remember, Road Scholar used to be called Elderhostel. A couple people were in their fifties, two were over eighty, and the rest of us were scattered in between.

The lady above at the far right had almost been unable to walk a few years ago because of arthritis.

Down and down we went.

See the rock suspended in the bush next to Joanna's leg?

How's this for size? Just a wee example of the power of water.

That huge boulder above? It hadn't been there two weeks before, she said.

Back and forth, up and down we went, finding our way through Cathedral Wash.

Then, finally, the Colorado River.

Gotta do this, gotta put the bare feet in the cold water of the Rio Colorado.

Lunch time.

Know what this is? This is where I chose to sit and eat my lunch.

Chaise longue, people. Chaise longue. In American, that's chaise lounge.

And then we started back up the wash. The photo above is of drying mud. Note the cracks that look like mountains.

An example of the immensity of the wash.

A long, scratchy slide from there if she looses her balance. This remarkable lady has Parkinson's Disease. I overheard her say, "I wish my kids could see me now. They'd never believe it." I started taking a lot of photos of her so her kids WOULD see her.

Climbing back up that narrow slot.

The lady with the red day pack is eighty-one.

And out towards the road where the vans waited in the late afternoon sun.

I was wrong. There was a place that equaled the slot canyon of the day before. I loved this hike. I loved the rock scrambling. Totally loved it!

Why is it called Cathedral Wash? This is why:


  1. I knew there must be a second reason why I address you as Gully! Climbing up and down them is second nature to you.

  2. Wow! Yay for epiphanies. I'm so glad you figured out the enlargement thing.

    This is hilarious. I was gasping over these awesome pictures when Buck walked by my screen. I said, "Wait, look at these." He said, "That's amazing. Is that some kind of organized group?" I told him it was. He says, "I'd like to do that, but all we would need is a map. . . "

    Uh Huh. I want the group (with Joanna)!

  3. I meant to say, too, that your chaise lounge, looked comfortable. I'm sure many other hikers have enjoyed it over the years. I want to go. . .

  4. Absolutely amazing! The power of water is just incredible. Great photos.

  5. What an incredible experience you have chronicled for us! The stories are wonderful and the pictures stunning. I want to go too!!
    Call them up and see if you can get a kickback for referrals! Sounds like you have gotten several of us interested.