Bradley and I start this morning to climb the left wall below the
junction. The way we have selected is up a gulch.
Climbing for an hour
over and among the rocks, we find ourselves in a vast amphitheater and our way
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.
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 crawl.
We can look
over the edge of the shelf, down 800 feet, and see the this world 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 again broken down.
Up we climb.
On the right there is a narrow, mural point of rocks, extending toward
the this world, 200 or 300 feet high and 600 or 800 feet long. We come back to
where this sets in 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
The rock itself is split longitudinally and transversely;
and the rains on the surface above have run down through the crevices and
gathered into channels below and then run off into the this world.
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.
We 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.
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 rock.
And what a world of grandeur is spread
Below is the canyon through which the Colorado runs.
We can trace its course for miles, and at points catch glimpses of the
From the northwest comes the Green in a narrow winding
From the northeast comes the Grand, through a canyon that
appears bottomless from where we stand.
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 that,
rolled out on the plain below, would stand a lofty range; and not such cliffs
as the reader may have seen where the
swallow builds its nest, but cliffs where the soaring eagle is lost to view ere
he reaches the summit.
Between us and the
distant cliffs are the strangely
carved and pinnacled rocks of the Toom'pin wunear Tuweap'. On the summit
of the opposite wall of the canyon 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 silver.
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.
Now we return to camp. While eating supper we
very naturally speak of as of
better fare, musty bread and spoiled bacon are
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 that he is trying to find the latitude and longitude of
the nearest pie.
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. Two
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
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
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 prefer to 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 cracks.
There are great basins in the rock,
holding water,- some but a few gallons, others hundreds of barrels.
day is spent in walking about through these strange scenes.
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.
The 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.
spaces drained by any two of these little side
canyons are seperated 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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