north rim week 1
9/4 travel day
Horrid. After getting stuck in bumper to bumper traffic north of Phoenix on a very difficult stretch of I-17 for 3 hours, I arrived frazzled, fried, & later than I hoped. How could I have forgotten it was Labor Day weekend? In the frenzy of getting shimmer off the loom & shipped to Silvia, & a week of non-stop packing, it never crossed my mind.
9/5 day 1
Trying to “nest” & find space for everything in the cabin which is small, but not too tiny. However, yarn & looms take up much more space than paper, canvas, & paints. I am always anxious when first thrust into new situations until I start feeling comfortable in my surroundings. An easy 3 mile hike out & back along the rim of Transept Canyon on Transept Trail, just a few yards from my cabin door, to the Grand Canyon Lodge helped take off the edge & started the process of adapting to the elevation. Red & buff cliffs repeat into the Canyon’s expanse, wind softly roaring through the trees like mountain surf, the spice of warm rocks & Ponderosa bark. Balm for an agitated soul.
9/7 day 3
Out all day yesterday on one of the best hikes I’ve ever done alone. Cliff Springs Trail, a short trail through a small, deep canyon on the way to the Cape Royal viewpoint… & not another biped on the trail. Unbelievable. Natural springs seep from between horizontal rock layers & drip from overhangs. Green ferns sprout from nooks in the ceiling of the overhang, thick clusters of thistles nestle against the cliff, shallow clear puddles in the clay soil echo musical drops against the cliff face. The only sound. Then, trail becomes a tangle scramble through thick patches of rabbitbrush & cliffrose taller than the top of my head, enormous clumps of Mormon tea… (in my mind the trail is now renamed “dyer’s dream”), oaks & conifers. Suddenly the canyon yawns open where trail’s end meets a towering red Toroweap cliff & I enjoyed my lunch with a view: Cape Royal Peninsula & Wotan’s Throne. Afterwards, on up to Cape Royal overlook where I had a wonderful conversation with Jean, an older French-Canadian fellow who has driven from Montreal in his camper van across the northern US, then down through Utah to here, with plans to head to California & back across the southern US, up through the Smokies & New England back to Montreal. Alone! He said he felt he was in rut & needed to shake up his world. He has also been down the Amazon, visited the Tibetan plateau, & bicycled from Calgary to the Tetons. I want to be like him when I grow up.
My cabin sits in a little meadow of grasses, wildflowers, conifers, & chalky white aspens within yards of the rim of Transept Canyon, which is the 2nd largest drainage into the main Canyon. I can see the cliffs of the southwest wall of the Transept from my windows. Uinta chipmunks scramble about, waving their tiny bottle brush tails & a chubby Golden Mantled ground squirrel sits Buddha-like nibbling discoveries atop small boulders. The temperatures have been slowly dropping as the Southwest begins its cooling trend. When I arrived, high 70s & mid 60s were the range; now the last two nights have dropped down into the mid 50s, with high 70s only occurring in exposed areas & 60s in the shady spots. Make like an onion to survive-- layer & peel.
A scare last evening; when I called Dennis he told me that my mother’s Life Alert had gone off & she had been taken to the ER. She had not awakened from her mid-morning nap & after missing lunch her blood glucose dropped very low (she has been diabetic for decades), so she continued sleeping, which would have most likely led to a coma if her little dog Toby had not jumped on her chest in the early evening & pushed the button on her Life Alert pendant. In a confused state, she fell & couldn’t get up, which in this case was fortunate because she was trying to cancel the alert. I was able to talk to both her & my sister last night while they were still in the ER having tests done. So far it seems all will be well & the plan was to allow her to return home if it was determined the only culprit was the low blood glucose. We told our mother she must now set her alarm to wake up from naps or we would cut off her Bingo privileges. And an extra ration of cookies for Toby!
This morning dawned cloudy & sprinkly. It will be a cabin day, warping looms & settling in, thinking about how to go about the business of weaving a canyon. My public demos will be arranged soon & I want to have something started on the looms for people to see. An empty warp won’t be very interesting.
9/8 day 4
Cloudy, cool, & agitated. Worry about my mother keeping me from feeling settled. I spoke with her yesterday morning again (she is back home), & now I’m trying to resign myself to the reality that I cannot control what may happen next. I have been forcing myself the last couple of days to prepare looms although my creative heart hasn’t felt any sparks & self-inflicted emotional torture is eating at me. But, the mechanics of loom prep help my rat brain to have something else to chew on. Today I decided I needed to flush out this fretting funk. A 10 mile hike on Widforss, which traverses the rim of Transept Canyon facing my cabin, is just what I needed. When you are hiking at elevation, sucking O2 to maintain muscle & brain activity doesn’t leave much room in the mind for anything else. As I hiked in solitude, thick wool batt clouds evolved into cotton puffs & searing blue sky, mind calmed as body fatigued, & signs that all would be well were given to me… startling views of the Transept’s gaping maw, cool green thick leafy draws, wildflower clogged meadows, a pair of banded pigeons, an overlook that is a perfect possibility for the condor tapestry background, a grove of incredibly twisted aspens that will become the model for my demo tapestry, a Kaibab squirrel, 3 horned lizards. Grandfather is watching over me.
During my exhausted return to the cabin, I dropped by the Park’s Admin building for necessities & info where I ended up meeting my ranger, Robin. Now I am outfitted with uniform, place, & times for my demos. I’ll be setting up in the Lodge’s Sunroom which has a giant glass wall overlooking Bright Angel Canyon. During the first week of residency artists are allowed to be “incognito” to get settled in, but then it is time to don the Park Volunteer uniform & mingle. My first demo is in 5 days… time to get weaving. I have already talked with several visitors encountered on my hikes, & I have been very touched by their interest in what I am doing here & their genuine disappointment that they would not be staying long enough to see my work & demos. Welcome motivation & inspiration.
9/10 day 6
Most of yesterday was spent weaving, starting a scene of twisted aspen trunks that I think will be named widforss wizards. The Widforss hike was a good purge & I am feeling more focused & happy. By 3:30 the need to be outside struck. Transept Trail beckoned another 1.5 mile hike up to the Lodge. I checked out the Sunroom to see where I would be setting up for demos, & then found the Visitor Center so I could check out their wall space… will it actually accommodate a tapestry of the size I am planning? Serendipity-- the Ranger known as “The Condor Ranger”, Gaelyn, was there & we had a wonderful conversation. She told me Navajo Bridge is the place to see condors right now, so when Dennis is here next week we will descend the Kaibab Plateau to Marble Canyon in the hopes of glimpsing one. The Visitor Center also has a “cut-out” silhouette of a life size condor in flight suspended from the rafters which allowed me to better visualize the wall dimensions.
Last night was the coldest yet, in the mid 30s. Days will probably be in the 50s & 60s from now on, unless a warm spell strikes. With these conditions, aspens will soon be working their golden magic. I was told by Gaelyn that leaf peeping is the reason for most treks to the North Rim this time of year. Today will be another weaving day, I want to have good progress for my demo. I’m using lots of linen to try to capture the slick surface of aspen bark.
Dennis arrives tomorrow to stay with me for a week! He has been my compass during these first days of residency, keeping me balanced. And he is my saving grace, bringing my completed tapestries from home for my demo. How could I have neglected to think to bring them? Good thing my brain is encased inside a sturdy skull.
My progress so far on this new tapestry… now I at least feel I will have something for people to see for my first demo on Monday! I am happy with my color palette, the effect the linen is producing, my decision to weave convoluted instead of straight aspen trunks (the distortion is a natural occurrence caused by the trees trying to grow through snow drifts that linger into spring).
Now a walk to the camper store to find out whether the Wi-Fi connection will let me post this….!
This work by lyn hart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Comments are closed.