CHAPTER IV. SUSPICIOUS HOSTS
We awoke bright and early the next morning, much refreshed by our day of rest and variety. With an early start we were soon pulling down the river, and noon found us several miles below the camp, having run eleven rapids with no particular difficulty. A reference in my notes reads: "Last one has a thousand rocks, and we could not miss them all. My rowing is improving, and we both got through fairly well." In the afternoon they continued to come - an endless succession of small rapids, with here and there a larger one. The canyon was similar to that at our camp above, dark red walls with occasional pines on the ledges, - a most charming combination of colour. At 2.30 P.M. we reached Ashley Falls, a rapid we had been expecting to see for some time. It was a place of singular beauty. A dozen immense rocks had fallen from the cliff on the left, almost completely blocking the channel - or so it seemed from one point of view. But there was a crooked channel, not more than twelve wide in places, through which the water shot like a stream from a nozzle.
We wanted a motion picture of our dash through the chute. But the location for the camera was hard to secure, for a sheer bank of rock or low wall prevented us from climbing out on the right side. We overcame this by landing on a little bank at the base of the wall and by dropping a boat down with a line to the head of the rapid where a break occurred in the wall. Jimmy was left with the camera, the boat was pulled back, and we prepared to run the rapid.
We first had to pass between two square rocks rising eight feet above the water so close together that we could not use the oars; then, when past these, pull ten feet to the right in order to clear the large rock at the end of the main dam, or barrier, not more than twenty feet below. To pull down bow first and try to make the turn, would mean to smash broadside against this rock. It could only be done by dropping stern first, and pulling to the right under the protection of the first rocks; though it was doubtful if even this could be accomplished, the current was so swift. The Defiance was ready first, the Edith was to follow as closely as safety allowed.
Almost before I knew it I was in the narrow channel, so close to the right rock that I had to ship that oar, and pull altogether on the left one. As soon as I was through I made a few quick strokes, but the current was too strong for me; and a corner of the stern struck a bang when I was almost clear. She paused as a wave rolled over the decks, then rose quickly; a side current caught the boat, whirling it around, and the bow struck. I was still pulling with all my might, but everything happened so quickly, - with the boat whirling first this way, then that, - that my efforts were almost useless. But after that second strike I did get in a few strokes, and pulled into the quiet pool below the line of boulders.
Emery held his boat in better position than I had done, and it looked for a while as if he would make it. But the Edith struck on the stern, much as mine had done. Then he pulled clear and joined me in the shelter of the large rock, as cool and smiling as if he had been rowing on a mill-pond. We were delighted to find that our boats had suffered no damage from the blows they had received. Striking on the ends as they did, the shock was distributed throughout the whole boat.
This completed our run for that day, and we went into camp just below the "Falls." Emery painted the name Edith on the bow of his boat, at this camp. The name was given in honour of his four-year-old daughter, waiting for us at the Grand Canyon. I remarked that as no one loved me, I would name my boat the Defiance. But I hesitated about putting this name on the bow. I would look rather foolish, I thought, if the Defiance should be wrecked in the first bad rapid. So the christening of my boat was left until such time as should have earned the title, although she was constantly referred to as the Defiance.
We remained until noon of the following day at Ashley Falls, exploring, repairing, and photographing this picturesque spot. The canyon walls here dropped down to beautiful, rolling foot-hills eight or nine hundred feet high tree covered as before but more open. The diversity of rocks and hills was alluring. There was work to be done and no pleasanter spot could be found in which to do it. Among other things that had to be looked after were some adjustments to the motion-picture camera - usually referred to by us as the M.P.C. - this delicate work always falling to Emery, for he alone could do it.
There was much to interest us here. Major Powell reported finding the name "Ashley" painted under an overhanging rock on the left side of the river. Underneath was a date, rather indistinct, but found to have been 1825, by Dellenbaugh, after carefully tracing the career of Colonel Ashley who was responsible for the record. Accompanied by a number of trappers, he made the passage through this canyon at that early day. We found a trace of the record. There were three letters - A-s-h - the first two quite distinct, and underneath were black spots. It must have been pretty good paint to leave a trace after eighty-six years!