Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 14, 2011

Cataract Canyon 7: Concord

Photo title: "And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day." (Sunrise at Waterhole Beach.)

(Continued from Cataract Canyon 6: Big Drops)

Leaving all the mayhem upstream, we cruise toward the backed-up waters of Lake Powell. I do not know where the river ends and the lake begins; it all looks the same. The current slows, allowing its cargo of silt to fall to the bottom, turning brown water green. The wide expanse of packed sand that is Waterhole Beach absorbs my footprints as I disembark at our third and final night’s camp.

I’m becoming enamored of this lifestyle in which existence is pared to the basics. My nails are dirty, my lips chapped, my face dry, my fingers cold. It is an honest feeling, known to cowboys and sawyers and seafarers. We work. We eat. We relax. We sleep. We think. We can feel the earth under our feet: boulder, trail, quicksand, cobble. We can feel the water beneath our boat: rapid, eddy, riffle, flat. We sense our connection to the canyon, to each other. Our movements, our choices, become simpler, more efficient.

A simple pleasure of Nov 3: cottonwood leaves

Comfort — “a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants” — does not describe this trip. I wouldn’t want it to. Simple pleasures are enough: steaming cup of tea before dawn, raven pair in synchronized flight, cozy driftwood fire to stave off the omnipresent chill. Deep satisfaction comes with small delights. Bodily wants? Negligible in a setting where every known adjective falls short, where every inner need I have is sated.

A metamorphosis has been happening gradually for three seasons; the outer skin that I used to call “normal life” is being stripped off, revealing underlying musculature of soul and spirit.

I’m so pleased to make the acquaintance of the real Me.

(Next episode here)

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