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"Delicate Dusk" -- call concerning
Below are direct links to the Grand Canyon/Landscape narratives:
(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.)
"Nature's Great Crescendos"
Like an orchestra reaching its final passage, proactively similar to the last glimmer of sunlight before a Total Solar Eclipse, indeed comparable to the birth of a child -- and representative of the entire Grand Canyon -- experiencing the whitewater wave train down the right side of Lava Falls is one of Nature's Great Crescendos.
As one approaches
Lava, the terrain becomes foreboding in a way not previously seen
here; it is a unique, surrealistic blend of unearthly rock and "upstart"
volcanoes. Gone are the steep, ageless walls of granite and schist.
In fact, the landscape becomes rather open and "well lit."
The shoreline consists of "youthful" lava flows and walls
of basaltic columns. This material only dates back perhaps one million
years, making it the most recent geologic deposition in the entire
Grand Canyon. Two miles above Lava, a volcanic dike ("Vulcan's
Anvil") appears mid-river. All boatmen feel an obligation to
at least touch this remnant of the ancient flow; perhaps for good
luck, perhaps to break the omnipresent fear. Here the river is "dead"
flat, like the calm before a tornado, or as in the eye of the hurricane.
One more bend, and you hear it. Not unlike a freight train run amok,
its roar is deafening, even in this somewhat open area.
is actually quivering beneath our feet; the group stumbles over
the rough lava rock, and climbs the right bank for a "better"
view. This vantage reveals at least three truths:
Truth #3 --
The right side of Lava, at least at this water level, is the only
We float to the brink of forever. This is it. After 13 days of sun, rock, and whitewater, we are on the edge, the brink; then suddenly, with one last small correction (I'm pleased with the seemingly perfect entry) we're in it. Hit the entry, rotate, first lateral wave, push, brace, second lateral wave, push with as much strength as I can garner, perfectly straight into these, then the third (larger than the others, as the river is now turning toward the rock of destiny) straight again, then damn, the right oar pops off the pin, next lateral, straight, put the oar back on, there, and I look in awe toward that fabulously beautiful, ever-surging (thank goodness) gigantic final lateral, the protector of the Cheese-Grater Rock, the conclusive guardian at the base of the rapid of destiny, and we are absolutely perfect, straight, rowing, climbing -- we are beholden before it at its largest -- the power and the glory, the pure essence of whitewater. Time stands still.
forget that image, not in small part due to the fact that it's the
last image I have of Lava Falls, because just as we climb to the
top of this 25-foot behemoth, something happens. I'm now in the
water, under the boat, left rear, with some sort of loose equipment
nearby. Damn, after all this, we've flipped -- no, it's the loose
remainder of our spare life jacket. I reach instantly above the
rear tube and feel the upright boat. Although still bouncing through
the final 15-foot tail waves of this tremendous torrent, I feel
sure we're out of the "big" stuff. As I emerge, a confused
Steve moves to the rear of the completely swamped raft and pulls
me aboard. We row for shore.
Copyright Willis Greiner, 1994. All rights reserved.
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