National Geographic : 1923 Feb
ENCIRCLING NAVAJO MOUNTAIN WITH A PACK-TRAIN An Expedition to a Hitherto Untraversed Region of Our Southwest Discovers a New Route to Rainbow Natural Bridge BY CHARLES L. BERNHEIMER With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author APARADISE for the faultfinder, for here he would have plenty to find fault with; "The land that God forgot," in the language of my guides who have an eye to happy grazing and hunting grounds; a veritable store house of delights for the sympathetic ex plorer-such is the broad desert country east of the Colorado River, south of the San Juan River, west of Navajo Moun tain, and north of the Little Colorado River, stretching along the Arizona-Utah border (see map, page 198). It is a desert of unique character-it is neither flat nor sterile. The voyager's eye is constantly confronted with start ling vistas. A disorderly, unsymmetrical rock jumble, rugged beyond description, suddenly dissolves into a well-ordered canyon inclosed by cliffs, a thousand or more feet high, perpendicular and as straight as if carved with a knife. Caves, often chains of caves, hundreds of feet deep and wide, the shape of an egg-shell and equally as smooth as its inner surface, stir the imagination, for many of those having a southerly ex posure were the dwelling-places of pre historic races of men. With a suddenness inconceivable to the uninitiated, yet so familiar in these reaches of surprise, the barren, waterless, and soil less rock masses disappear and one is confronted with an oasis. A cleft in the rocks serves as the gate way to a veritable Garden of Eden where all looks green, well watered, flourishing, and contented. The sand blasts of ages have overlooked the canyon spring which faithfully con tinues to serve. The toiling travelers, man and beast, are joyfully revived. Then there are the desert flats, sage covered, pleasing, and interesting in their temporary monotony. Rare minerals abound for the geologist; unusual plants for the botanist; cliff ruins, pottery, bas ketry, and rock inscriptions for the an thropologist; color and form effects for the artist; and an educational opportunity of superlative worth for the student on his vacation under the chaperonage of a tutor. But, permeating all, there is a sense of physical lonesomeness, mingled with an almost constant feeling of the presence of the Creator. Animal life is scant; but this has its advantages, for who would not do with out game, which we at least did not come to kill, if compensated by a comparative paucity of rattlesnakes, gila monsters, scorpions, centipedes, ants, and mosqui toes? All of these are there, but not in annoying numbers. THE SURROUNDINGS OF RAINBOW NATURAL BRIDGE In the very heart of this expanse towers the oft-described Rainbow Natural Bridge.* Were it located elsewhere than in this cross-bedded sandstone country, it would be a freak, but in its own setting it is a natural and logical phenomenon. On the northwest slope of Navajo Moun tain it partially spans one of the canyons which lies deep in the eroded flanks of the monstrous radiating buttresses that de scend from the sides of this Io,ooo-foot mountain. *See also, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, "Colossal Natural Bridges of Utah," Sep tember, 1904; "The Great Natural Bridges of Utah," March, 1907, and February, 1910, and "The Great Rainbow Natural Bridge of South ern Utah," November, 1911.