National Geographic : 1978 Jul
(Continuedfrom page 45) Dale snaps a stern warning: "If there's anyone who came to see a boat flip, get away from here. We don't even want you around. If there's anyone here who says he's not afraid of this rapids, I don't want him in my boat." Following the precedent set by Powell, who portaged Lava, a few of our group de cide to walk around the rapids. If fear is the only requirement, I am cer tainly qualified to ride. From above there was no scale; down here there's too much. As our dory slides down a smooth tongue into chaos, twenty-foot waves lash us. Boatman O. C. Dale yells an unnecessary, "Hang on!" Our boat thrashes like a wounded whale try ing to shake a harpoon-plunging, broach ing, shuddering. The run lasts an interminable 30 seconds. That evening, Lava behind us, the teddy bears strip off the life jackets and a few inhi bitions, and celebrate well into the night our smashing victory: Dories 7, Lava 0. Sunrise comes late to the canyon floor but not without a glorious preamble. On the highest rims to the west the sun kindles a glowing tiara of light. A reflected pink blush flows down eastern walls. The raccoons have finished their nightly patrol of the camp. A family of coyotes snarl and bark as they scrap among themselves across the riv er. A golden eagle glides silently along a ridge, hoping to surprise a careless shrew. IN WEEKS spent crisscrossing the park, I often felt the cold flash of adrenaline and fear as a foothold gave way along a steep pitch. One bone-chilling mugger of a rap ids stripped me of camera, hat, sunglasses, and my right boot. I suffered blisters, bruises, and a cracked ankle. I've never en joyed a place more. I would heal. I hope I left no scars on the canyon that won't heal, because there are a lot of people coming to see it. They should al ways find it unimpaired. Q In communion with rock and light, wind and pool, a wader in the font of North Canyon Wash can take home for memory those private epiphanies the canyon endlessly supplies. Only one payment is required: Leave no trace.