National Geographic : 2016 Oct
unplugging the selfie generation 53 and steered one way and the other. Then our craft swung, dangerously, to the side, and just as quickly swung back. Casey and I caught the expression on her face; that was not a planned move. One of the world’s most regulated rivers could still throw a punch. Powell’s expedition had been fraught with per- il. Only six of the 10 men who started the journey came ashore at the end. Two of the wooden boats were gone. The survivors were sunbaked, nearly starving, and psychologically rattled. “I never want to see it again,” wrote Jack Sumner, a guide and outfitter on the expedition. ON OUR FINAL DAY we were planning to hike out—9.5 miles and 4,380 vertical feet—up Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim. To beat the heat, we started in darkness, a few hours past midnight. We switched on headlamps and jostled gear in small backpacks. A light rain fell. This was a relief. We crossed a suspension bridge over the Colora- do and then followed the well-maintained trail, corkscrewing our way up. The rock floor is around 1.8 billion years old. At the rim, the Kaibab forma- tion is 270 million years old. With each mile, we advanced another 160 million years or so. As the rain picked up, the walls came alive with waterfalls. What had been parched and chalky now seemed lush and Edenic, like a rain forest, with a similar soundtrack. We moved at a good clip, passing mule packs on the way down and knucklehead tourists in flip-flops and plastic garbage bags for rain gear. When we stopped, ev- ery two miles or so, we took in the sensory over- load, all this water pouring through a painted chasm. By midday, we’d reached the South Rim, a hive of visitors and languages, hotels and restau- rants, stores and rental cabins. I checked with a ranger who said that the missing guide had not been found. It was a chilling note on an otherwise triumphant return to the clank of civilization. We spent a half hour or so on our phones, catch- ing up, all information back in our hands. The presidential campaign was still chaotic. The NBA finals had a game yet to play. The stock market had moved sideways. Half the unchecked emails, at least, were ones you didn’t want to respond to With Yosemite’s Half Dome behind them, rangers Diana del Solar and Christina Warburg strike a pose. Their shots appear on @yosemitenps on Instagram and usinterior on Snapchat. Steven Donovan, flipping into a pool, took a seasonal job at Glacier to work on his photography skills. He posts to @es_dons.