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"Delicate Dusk" -- call concerning
"Ancient Mayan Ball Court"
"Deer Creek Falls"
"Ghosts of the Past"
"Marble Canyon Reflection"
"Matkat Canyon I"
"Moon Through North Window" -- call
Below are direct links to the Grand Canyon/Landscape narratives:
Grand Canyon narrative -- " The Big Show"
Grand Canyon narrative -- "The Soul of
Grand Canyon narrative -- "Rhythm of the
Grand Canyon narrative -- "The Ribbon
Grand Canyon narrative -- "Into the Gorge"
Grand Canyon narrative -- "Nature's
Grand Canyon narrative --"The Human
(Special note: The Grand Canyon narratives came to be during our private
float and as a result of my dissatisfaction in the attempt to express
myself only with photography; which, although somewhat successful, seemed
a bit incomplete. In frustration I began to write down my feelings,
often in-flow. The results include these narratives. The narratives
should be read in the order presented above. I hope you exact some of
the power and glory of this marvelous place from the writings.)
The Big Show. The Big Ditch.
The Great Kohuna. The Greatest Adventure on Earth. It's the Grand
Canyon, of course.
within the great walls of stone, the Earth's history (the history
of life) is revealed. Two billion years of history, by most
And it is the Big Show. By everyone's standard.
More than 10 miles wide and over 5000 feet deep, the Canyon is second
only in the Solar System to the great canyon system on Mars. But
here, within the great walls of stone, the Earth's history (the
history of life) is revealed. Two billion years of history, by most
Geologically, it's rare to have exposed areas which were once eroded
to nonexistence, only to be continually over-deposited. Such areas
are called unconformities. Here in the Grand Canyon there exists
the Unconformity, the Great Unconformity and the Greatest Unconformity!
Lots of history. Over two billion years of history. Recently (one
million years or so ago) youthful upstart volcanoes spewed lava
amongst the lower canyons, forming a dam said to have been more
than 900 feet high. It subsequently backed up the river for many
miles, but now all that remains is Lava Falls, merely the largest
navigable rapid in North America. Much more recently (in the turbulent
60's) house-sized boulders flooded into the river from Crystal Creek,
transforming the once placid Crystal Rapid into the nastiest quarter
mile on the river. Ever constant, ever changing.
The river. That's what this exercise is about. The river at the
bottom of those two billion year old canyon walls. Although dammed
(damned?) and abused, the river remains. This experience is mostly
about the river. The river, we will learn, is a metaphor for all
we will learn, is a metaphor for all else.
Brian's here. Brian, with all the cameras
and equipment, high-tech boat and ailing back -- anxious family
left behind -- this could be his last hurrah. He once owned a river
company and has been successful in many other business ventures.
Brian's a superb photographer with a specialty in action whitewater
images. He's also politically active, making for the possibility
of lively discussion as we descend into the Canyon.
Larry. With his two doctorates and plethora of education, Larry
remains probably the most intelligent person I have ever met. Always
glib (even about subjects he may not be altogether familiar with)
Larry remains a joy. At 53 years old, he's the senior participant
on the trip.
Jerry. He's the trip leader, the holder of a permit that took a
decade to obtain. Excellent worker and wonderful organizer, he too
is a joy in the outdoors. He comes equipped with a strong teaching
background and zest for experiential education.
Roberta is Jerry's wife and life companion. She's a competent boatwoman,
and will proceed downriver with her high school friend, Susie. They
will float the first half of the journey (down to Phantom Ranch)
in a craft marginally longer than ten feet. This is probably one
of the smallest boats ever to attempt the Canyon and, in the realm
of the towering waves, a huge challenge. The companionship of these
intrepid women will be welcome to an otherwise graybeard "convention."
Doug, a long time friend and superlative oarsman, will take Roberta's
craft through the second section of the Canyon, and will therefore
row this tiny craft through the biggest whitewater in North America.
Jules. The wild Cowboy Italian, he's only rowed a few times. Jules
is an expert rock climber, and is undoubtedly in the best physical
shape of all of us. He's also the youngest, in his mid-thirties.
His intense energy is a great asset on our journey.
Gary. Having rowed the Canyon twice with his 16 foot "white
whale" (still small by Grand Canyon standards), he'll make
this attempt with a sporty Aire boat, a type of catamaran for the
river. A "humanistic" engineer, he once "drove"
spacecraft into Mars orbit, only to have them "given"
to another astrophysicist to receive instructions for the final
descent. (He once likened this policy to a divorce. I can relate;
I've been through two.)
Steve. My passenger. Good to have weight up front. Hope it's enough.
A teacher and excellent companion, he adds much to the Canyon experience.
He's a serious family man and fine artist. He will attempt to record
the Canyon's many moods through photography, drawing and painting.
It's my first time down the Canyon, and frankly I'm quite apprehensive.
The idea of running the 60 or so rapids carefully enough not to
overturn is my challenge.
It's a group of graybeards and eccentrics, bringing with us all
of our assets and liabilities, all of our expectations and disappointments,
all of our prejudices and addictions. Everything. All this stuff,
this baggage; all to be processed, both in-flow and at camp. Old
war stories, new glory days; all will be pursued, perused, revised,
regurgitated, remembered. As middle-aged men and women we wonder
whether we'll have the physique, stamina and health to ever repeat
this adventure. The long and short of it is, however, that we are
but mere nano-second blips on the viewing screen of this timeless
and eternal place.
and short of it is, however, that we are but mere nano-second
blips on the viewing screen of this timeless and eternal place.
Why is this group here? Why leave behind
appreciative wives, lovers, family? Why abandon laughably opulent
homes in overpriced neighborhoods? Why ignore continuing responsibilities,
dwindling savings accounts for future college expenses, personal
businesses, public trusts, expensive vehicles, fancy possessions,
power lunches, cellular do dahs; why leave all of this behind? Why
not! All of this is the reason why we came here. To be humbled by
the rock, the heat, the unrelenting whitewater, to be beaten up
and thrown about. That's why. To understand (again) that humility
in the presence of this place is really what we as humans are all
about. Let's all be thankful there are still places where one is
able to experience this necessary humility, to feel overwhelmed
in the greater sense. That is what the Grand Canyon is, and that
is why it is so intoxicating. And here the experience is proactive.
You don't just look, you must act. You must become a part of this
sacred place, part of the water, rock and sky.
all be thankful there are still places where one is able to
experience this necessary humility, to feel overwhelmed in the
As we float beyond the Navajo Bridge and
begin to see the walls of Marble Canyon stack up, a quiet reverence
overwhelms us. Soon, around a few turns in the river, we hear the
distant roar of the first rapid. Let's proceed on this, the greatest
adventure of the planet. Let's descend into Major Powell's Great
Unknown. It's showtime.
Copyright Willis Greiner, 1994.
All rights reserved.