CHAPTER XIX. SIGNALLING OUR CANYON HOME
How long we had waited for this view! How many memories it recalled - and how different it seemed to our previous visit there! Then, the high water was on, and the turquoise-tinted mineral water of the Colorado Chiquito was backed up by the turbid flood waters of the Rio Colorado, forty feet or more above the present level. Now it was a rapid stream, throwing itself with wild abandon over the rocks and into the Colorado. There was the same deserted stone hut, built by a French prospector, many years before, and a plough that he had packed in over a thirty-mile trail - the most difficult one in all this rugged region! There was the little grass-plot where we pastured the burro, while we made a fifteen-mile walk up the bed of this narrow canyon! What a hard, hot journey it had been! A year and a half ago we sat on that rock, and talked of the day when we should come through here in boats! Even then we talked of building a raft, and of loading the burro on it for a spin on the flood waters. Lucky for us and for the burro that we didn't! We understand the temper of these waters now.
Cape Desolation, a point of the Painted Desert on the west side of the Little Colorado, was almost directly above us, 3200 feet high. Chuar Butte, equally as high and with walls just as nearly perpendicular, extended on into the Grand Canyon on the right side, making the narrowest canyon of this depth that we had seen. The Navajo reservation terminated at the Little Colorado, although nothing but the maps indicated that we had passed from the land of the Red man to that of the White. Both were equally desolate, and equally wonderful. With the entrance of the new stream the canyon changes its southwest trend and turns directly west, and continues to hold to this general direction until the northwest corner of Arizona is reached.
But we must be on again! Soon familiar segregated peaks in the Grand Canyon began to appear. There was Wotan's Throne on the right, and the "Copper Mine Mesa" on the left. Three or four miles below the junction a four-hundred foot perpendicular wall rose above us. The burro, on our previous visit, was almost shoved off that cliff when the pack caught on a rock, and was only saved by strenuous pulling on the neck-rope and pack harness. Soon we passed some tunnels on both sides of the river where the Mormon miners had tapped a copper ledge. At 4.15 P.M. we were at the end of the Tanner Trail, the outlet of the Little Colorado Trail to the rim above. It had taken seven hours of toil to cover the same ground we now sped over in an hour and a quarter. Major Powell, in 1872, found here the remnant of a very small hut built of mesquite logs, but whether the remains of an Indian's or white man's shelter cannot be stated. The trail, without doubt was used by the Indians before the white man invaded this region.
The canyon had changed again from one which was very narrow to one much more complex, greater, and grander. The walls on top were many miles apart; Comanche Point, to our left, was over 4000 feet above us; Desert View, Moran Point, and other points on the south rim were even higher. On the right we could see an arch near Cape Final on Greenland Point, over 5000 feet up, that we had photographed, from the top, a few years before. Pagoda-shaped temples - the formation so typical of the Grand Canyon - clustered on all sides. The upper walls were similar in tint to those in Marble Canyon, but here at the river was a new formation; the algonkian, composed of thousands of brilliantly coloured bands of rock, standing at an angle - the one irregularity to the uniform layers of rock - a remnant of thousands of feet of rock which once covered this region, then was planed away before the other deposits were placed. All about us, close to the river, was a deep, soft sand formed by the disintegration of the rocks above, as brilliantly coloured as the rocks from which they came. What had been a very narrow stream above here spread out over a thousand feet wide, ran with a good current, and seemed to be anything but a shallow stream at that.
We had travelled far that day but still sped on, - with a few rapids which did not retard, but rather helped us on our way, and with a good current between these rapids, - only stopping to camp when a three-hundred foot wall rose sheer from the river's edge, bringing to an end our basin-like river bottom, where one could walk out on either side. It was not necessary to hunt for driftwood this evening, for a thicket of mesquite - the best of all wood for a camp-fire - grew out of the sand-dunes, and some half-covered dead logs were unearthed from the drifted sand, and soon reduced to glowing coals.