Bradley and I start this morning to climb the left wall below the
The way we have selected is up a gulch.
an hour over and among the rocks, we find ourselves in a vast amphitheater and
our way cut off.
We clamber around to the left for half an hour, until
we find that we cannot go up in that direction.
Then we try the rocks
around to the right and discover a narrow shelf nearly half a mile long.
In some places this is so wide that we pass along with ease; in others
it is so narrow and sloping that we are compelled to lie down and
We can look over the edge of the shelf, down 800 feet, and see
us rolling and plunging among the rocks.
Looking up 500 feet to the
brink of the cliff, it appears to blend with the sky.
We continue along
until we come to a point where the wall is broken down.
Up we climb.
On the right there is a narrow, mural point of rocks, extending toward
us, 200 or 300 feet high and 600 or 800 feet long.
We come to the base
and find it cut off from the main wall by a great crevice.
Into this we
pass; and now a long, narrow rock is between us and the river.
itself is split longitudinally and transversely; and the rains on the surface
above have run down through the crevices and gathered in channels.
crevices are usually narrow above and, by erosion of the streams, wider below,
forming a network of caves, each cave having
a narrow, winding skylight up through the rocks.
wander among these corridors for an hour or two, but find no place where the
rocks are broken down so that we can climb up.
At last we determine to
attempt a passage by a crevice, and select one which we think is wide enough to
admit of the passage of our bodies and yet narrow enough to climb out by
pressing our hands and feet against the walls.
So we climb as men would
out of a well.
Bradley climbs first; I hand him the barometer, then
climb over his head and he hands me the barometer.
So we pass each
other alternately until we emerge from the fissure, out on the summit of the
And what a world of grandeur is spread before us!
is the canyon through which the Colorado runs.
We can trace its course
for miles, and at points catch glimpses of the this world.
northwest comes the Green in a narrow winding gorge.
northeast comes the Grand, through a canyon that appears bottomless from where
Away to the west are lines of cliffs and ledges of rock - not
such ledges as the reader may have seen where the quarryman splits his blocks,
but ledges from which the gods might quarry mountains.
Between us and
the distant cliffs are the strangely carved and pinnacled rocks of the
Toom'pin wunear Tuweap'.
On the summit of the canyon wall are
rock forms that we do not understand.
A way to the east
a group of eruptive mountains are seen the
Sierra La Sal, which we first saw two days ago through the canyon of the Grand.
Their slopes are covered with
pines, and deep gulches are flanked with great crags, and snow fields are seen
near the summits.
So the mountains are in uniform, green, gray, and
Wherever we look there is but a
wilderness of rocks, - deep gorges where the rivers are lost below cliffs and
towers and pinnacles, and ten thousand strangely carved forms in every
direction, and beyond them mountains blending with the clouds.
return to camp. While eating supper we very naturally speak of as of better
fare, musty bread and spoiled bacon
are not palatable.
Soon I see Hawkins down by the boat, taking up the
sextant - rather a strange proceeding for him - and I question him concerning
He replies he is trying to find the latitude and longitude of the
This morning we go out to climb the west wall of the canyon, for the purpose of
examining the strange rocks seen yesterday from the other side.
hours bring us to the top, at a point between the Green and Colorado
overlooking the junction of the rivers.
A long neck of rock extends
toward the mouth of the Grand.
Out on this we walk, crossing a great
number of deep crevices.
Usually the smooth rock slopes down to the
fissure on either side.
Sometimes it is an interesting question to us
whether the slope is not so steep that we cannot stand on it.
Sometimes, starting down, we are compelled to go on, and when we
measure the crevice with our eye from above we are not always sure that it is
not too wide for a jump.
Probably the slopes would not be difficult if
there was not a fissure at the lower end; nor would the fissures cause fear if
they were but a few feet deep.
It is curious how a little obstacle
becomes a great obstruction when a misstep would land a man in the bottom
of a deep chasm.
Climbing the face of a cliff, a man will without
hesitancy walk along a step or shelf but a few inches wide if the landing is
but ten feet below, but if the foot of the cliff is a thousand feet down he
will crawl along the shelf.
At last our way is cut off by a fissure so
deep and wide that we cannot pass it.
Then we turn and walk back into
the country, over the smooth, naked sandstone, without vegetation, except that
here and there dwarf cedars and pinion pines have found a footing in the huge
There are great basins in the rock, holding water, some but a
few gallons, others hundreds of barrels.
The day is spent in walking
about through these strange scenes.
A narrow gulch is cut into the wall
of the main canyon.
Follow this up and the climb is rapid, as if going
up a mountain side, for the gulch heads but a few hundred or a few thousand
yards from the wall.
But this gulch has its side gulches, and as the
summit is approached a group of radiating canyons is found.
spaces drained by these little canyons are
terraced, and are, to a greater or less extent, of the form of amphitheaters,
though some are oblong and some rather irregular.
Usually the spaces
drained by any two of these little side canyons are separated by a narrow wall,
100, 200, or 300 feet high, and often but a few feet in thickness.
Sometimes the wall is
broken into a line of pyramids above and still remains a wall below.
There are a number of these gulches which break the wall of the main
canyon of the Green, each one having its system of side canyons and
amphitheaters, inclosed by walls or lines of pinnacles.
The course of
the Green at this point is approximately at right angles to that of the
Colorado, and on the brink of the latter canyon we find the same system of
terraced and walled glens.
The walls and pinnacles and towers are of
sandstone, homogeneous in structure but not in color, as they show broad bands
of red, buff, and gray.
This painting of the rocks, dividing them into
sections, increases their apparent height.
In some places these
terraced and walled glens along the Colorado have coalesced with those along
the Green; that is, the intervening walls are broken down. It is very rarely
that a loose rock is seen.
sand is washed off, so
that the walls, terraces, and slopes of the glens are all of smooth sandstone.
In the walls themselves curious caves and channels have been carved.
In some places there are little stairways up the walls; in others, the
walls present what are known as royal arches; and so we wander through glens
and among pinnacles and climb the walls from early morn until late in the
expedition notes of John Wesley Powell, The Exploration of
the Colorado River and its Canyons
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