by Kaleb Smith, HE Travel Storyteller
This is the second in a series of three blog posts. Read Part 1 HERE.
Canyon Day 3:
Today was incredible. We came to one of our first hiking areas, high up the canyon wall, called Nankoweep, the Ancient Puebloan Granary. Once we reached the site, our Captain Adam told us how the natives would bring their food up the side of the canyon, making the path as invisible as possible so no-one would find their secret stash. As a reward for making the trek, Adam gave us Tootsie Pops. I’ve never seen grown men so happy to receive a Tootsie Pop in my whole life. These would become a tradition on all our hikes! Back at the foot of the trail we turned off see more ruins. Mike, one of our tour members who happens to be a park ranger, shared some insights about some artifacts we came across.
I don’t know if it was the sun, the sand, the canyon or a combination of it all, but I was giddy. When we reached our lunch spot I ripped off my shirt, kicked off my shoes and ran up the stretch of beach. I felt like a kid again. I sat on the beach in awe of the view before me. Canyons as high as skyscrapers and skies as vast as the cosmos. For me there could be nothing better. Until Adam brought us to the Little Colorado River.
The color was Pure Magic. A blue I’ve only ever seen at the bottom of Hollywood pools was set against red canyon walls. I jumped into the blue water as clouds of milky white sand bloomed underneath my feet. The pull of the rapids took me a few hundred feet downstream and then I would get out and run back upstream to go again and again. It was like our own private water park. I wanted to bring everyone I’ve ever loved to this spot so they could feel as happy as I did.
Later on, after setting up camp, I had my first river bath since childhood. Once clean, I slipped into my new cotton t-shirt and shorts. The mixture of new-clothes-smell, fresh air and today’s events could not be more satisfying. I took my place for dinner as the guys swapped stories of the day, listening to Vaden strum his guitar and sing a song, just the kind of mellow sound you want to hear on a day like today. I opted to sleep outside the tent tonight. The temperature was perfect to fall asleep under the stars to the sounds of the rushing river.
Vaden Singing and playing the guitar and harmonica.
Canyon Day 4:
Adam made the morning call for coffee and sleepy faces made their way from their camps to the warm brown liquid that would hopefully wake their sluggish minds. Before leaving camp some of us decided to go see a few petroglyphs. These beautifully simple carvings in rock were made by native people and have survived here for hundreds of years. I couldn’t help but think how much I wished I could meet them. I had so many questions in my head that I wanted to ask them. I wanted to stay another night in this place just to explore it more, but alas, the whitewater called and we had to obey.
I discovered why they call this trip “Splash!” All day on the river today we got wet. It was an amazing roller-coaster ride with no training wheels. Water crashed over our heads as the guys screamed with laughter and excitement. Along the way, rock formations varied so much that there was always something new and interesting to see. We also had our first glimpse of a mountain goat today. Virtually undetectable, he blended into the landscape so well I couldn’t see him, even though I was looking right at him.
We took a break from the rapids and Adam led us up through ever narrower canyons to a place called Trinity: our own private grotto with waterfall. As my inner Effie pondered a way to get behind the waterfall without getting wet, Adam picked me up and jumped with me into the cold water. So much for the odds being in my favor. Once wet and encouraged by the guys, I headed to the spot where I could climb up behind the waterfall to a ledge where I could jump into the pool below. After our intrepid band of hikers had all seen me jump, clothes were peeled off and cameras were brought out to capture the joy. Laughter, smiles and a carefree air were all around us.
Click Here to read Part 3!