CHAPTER XIII. OVER THE RIVER.
On the last day of September we follow the Vermilion Cliffs around to the mouth of the Paria. Here the cliffs present a wall of about 2,000 feet in height, - above, orange and vermilion, but below, chocolate, purple, and gray in alternating bands of rainbow brightness. The cliffs are cut with deep side canyons, and the rainbow hills below are destitute of vegetation. At night we camp on the bank of the Colorado River, on the same spot where our boat-party had camped the year before. Leaving the party in charge of Mr. Graves and Mr. Bishop, while they are building a ferryboat, I take some Indians to explore the canyon of the Paria. We find steep walls on either side, but a rather broad, flat plain below, through which the muddy river winds its way over quicksands. This stream we have to cross from time to time, and we find the quicksands treacherous and our horses floundering in the trembling masses.
These broad canyons, or canyon valleys, are carved by the streams in obedience to an interesting law of corrasion. Where the declivity of the stream is great the river corrades, or cuts its bottom deeper and still deeper, ever forming narrow clefts, but when the stream has cut its channel down until the declivity is greatly reduced, it can no longer carry the load of sand with which it is fed, but drops a part of it on the way. Wherever it drops it in this manner a sand bank is formed. Now the effect of this sand bar is to turn the course of the river against the wall or bank, and as it unloads in one place it cuts in another below and loads itself again; so it unloads itself and forms bars, and loads itself with more material to form bars, and the process of vertical cutting is transformed into a process of lateral cutting. The rate of cutting is greatly increased thereby, but the wear is on the sides and not on the bottom. So long as the declivity of the stream is great, the greater the load of sand carried the greater the rate of vertical cutting; but when the declivity is reduced, so that part of the load is thrown down, vertical cutting is changed to lateral and the rate of cor-rasion multiplied thereby. Now this broad valley canyon, or "box canyon," as such channels are usually called in the country, has been formed by the stream itself, cutting its channel at first vertically and afterwards laterally, and so a great flood-plain is formed.
For a day we ride up the Paria, and next day return. The party in camp have made good progress. The boat is finished and a part of the camp freight has been transported across the river. The next day the remainder is ferried over and the animals are led across, swimming behind the ferryboat in pairs. Here a bold bluff more than 1,200 feet in height has to be climbed, and the day is spent in getting to its summit. We make a dry camp, that is, without water, except that which has been carried in canteens by the Indians.
October 4- - All day long we pass by the foot of the Echo Cliffs, which are in fact the continuation of the Vermilion Cliffs. It is still a landscape of rocks, with cliffs and pinnacles and towers and buttes on the left, and deep chasms running down into the Marble Canyon on the right. At night we camp at a water pocket, a pool in a great limestone rock. We still go south for another half day to a cedar ridge; here we turn westward, climbing the cliffs, which we find to be not the edge of an escarpment with a plateau above, but a long narrow ridge which descends on the eastern side to a level only 500 or 600 feet above the trail left below. On the eastern side of the cliff a great homogeneous sandstone stretches, declining rapidly, and on its sides are carved innumerable basins, which are now filled with pure water, and we call this the Thousand Wells. We have a long afternoon's ride over sand dunes, slowly toiling from mile to mile. We can see a ledge of rocks in the distance, and the Indian with us assures us that we shall find water there. At night we come to the cliff, and under it, in a great cave, we find a lakelet. Sweeter, cooler water never blessed the desert.
While at Jacob's Pool, several days before, I sent a runner forward into this region with instructions to hunt us up some of the natives and bring them to this pool. When we arrive we are disappointed in not finding them on hand, but a little later half a dozen men come in with the Indian messenger. They are surly fellows and seem to be displeased at our coming. Before midnight they leave. Under the circumstances I do not feel that it is safe to linger long at this spot; so I do not lie down to rest, but walk the camp among the guards and see that everything is in readiness to move. About two o'clock I set a couple of men to prepare a hasty lunch, call up all hands, and we saddle, pack, eat our lunch, and start off to the southwest to reach the Moenkopi, where there is a little rancheria of Indians, a farming settlement belonging to the Oraibis, so we are told. We set out at a rapid rate, and when daylight comes we are in sight of the canyon of the Moenkopi, into which we soon descend; but the rancheria has been abandoned. Up the Moenkopi we pass several miles, in a beautiful canyon valley, until we find a pool in a nook of a cliff, where we feel that we can defend ourselves with certainty, and here we camp for the night. The next day we go on to Oraibi, one of the pueblos of the Province of Tusayan.
At Tusayan we stop for two weeks and visit the seven pueblos on the cliffs. Oraibi is first reached, then Shumopavi, Shupaulovi, and Mashongnavi, and finally Walpi, Sichumovi, and Hano.