9/13 day 9
The 11th: Dennis arrived in late afternoon. That morning, I had gone over to the Backcountry Office to put his name in the lottery for a permit to hike down off the North Rim on the 13th (today) to Cottonwood Campground for an overnight stay in the bottom of the Canyon. It’s a 7 mile hike with an elevation change of 4250 feet from trailhead to Canyon floor. Not too bad going down, but coming back up is another story & I remember it well from 2000 when we did our rim to rim hike!
The rest of the day was spent neatening up the cabin, making room for his things, preparing a simple meal for later & working on widforss wizards. After he arrived & we got his things moved inside, I took him for a hike along the Transept Trail up to the Lodge to shake the city out of his soul. On the way back to the cabin, we stopped to sit in silence & watch the color play on Deva Temple, sun shafting its evening rays through the side canyons as it slid below the Kaibab Plateau.
The 12th: I turned 50! What is 50 supposed to feel like? Another year on the planet, another year trying to live in beauty. To me, it feels good-- I am happy to be who I am, happy to be in my life & to be sharing it with Dennis, happy for the friends in my life.
We returned to the Backcountry Office to discover that Dennis had gotten his permit for Cottonwood. And also to discover posted on the office door the wonderful flyer announcing my demos that my other Ranger, Catherine, put together using images of my work! I have forgotten to mention that she was the first to welcome me here, coming to greet me at my cabin shortly after my frazzled arrival. She also popped by other times that weekend, which made me feel very welcome & not so “alone”.
After getting Dennis’ permit, a full day of Canyon… first the Cliff Springs hike that was so lovely & which we both enjoyed just as much as when I first did it, then up to Cape Royal & Point Imperial overlooks. Back at the cabin, pre-dinner activities included sipping a good portion of very fine tequila, then Dennis took me to the Lodge for dinner. A very lovely birthday in every way.
Today (the 13th): This morning I dropped Dennis at the North Kaibab trailhead & down he went. I hope his hike is enjoyable & I admire him for wanting to do it. The climate in the Canyon bottom is similar to Tucson’s, so he won’t be having the wonderful 70s that I’m getting… in the high 90s he will definitely be back in desert heat!
Today was my first demo at the Lodge, & since Dennis wasn’t here, I don’t have photos to post. But he will be here for Friday’s demo & will take photos of me in action then. Catherine was there to help me unload & cart everything through the busy Lodge to the Sunroom, even getting my Powerpoint portfolio presentation to run when I couldn’t seem to make it work… a Ranger of many talents! I set up my Shannock with widforss wizards in progress, a display of some of my completed tapestries, weft & warp materials, & my laptop running the portfolio presentation. I looked very official in my government issue uniform shirt, my National Park “Artist in Residence” title bar, hiking shorts, & Blunnie boots. Quite a few people came to observe & ask questions, several staying the entire two hours I was there. After returning to my cabin, I set my loom up outside under a big fir tree to have a little quiet weaving time, something I have been wanting to do but hadn’t yet since the days just prior to Dennis’ arrival were too cool & windy.
Tomorrow, I am planning a hike I haven’t done yet & Dennis will return from his solo sojourn in the afternoon.
9/14 day 10
Cape Final Hike
Glossy green needles float in the blue pool overhead. Trees stitch a dappled quilt with sighs of contentment to cover the trail. Inhaling warm Ponderosa vanilla rosin. Quiet crunch of boots on trail. Clutches of nuthatches gossip in waving boughs. Thick patches of blue, purple, yellow wildflowers felt forest floor. At rim’s edge, the Canyon holds your breath.
I arrived back from my hike to find Dennis returned safely from his sojourn to the Canyon floor at Cottonwood Camp where he enjoyed solitude, sketching, soaking his hot & tired feet & body in the icy coldness of Bright Angel Creek, & sighting several pink rattlesnakes (yes, they are pink down there… an adaptation to the pink sands), one of which shared his campsite overnight, curled up about 12 feet away from where he slept.
We spent the afternoon relaxing at the cabin, sitting outside enjoying the quiet view of the Transept, visiting the Camper Store for ice cream, planning tomorrow’s big trip-- a 12 mile hike to a less visited overlook –- followed by a leisurely meal of wine & white chili & an evening of reading & polishing up my Powerpoint presentation for my next demo day.
9/15 day 11
Tiyo Point Hike. A massive 12 mile day hike that took us 6 hours, plus 30 minutes each way to drive in & out. A full day’s outing. The hike traverses the mostly flat topography of that finger of land on an old fire road, through conifer & aspen woods, which is the reason 12 miles was doable. If the trail had the normal switchbacking up & down slope that characterizes most Canyon hikes, it would not have been possible except for the the fittest & swiftest of hikers! The incredible view at the point itself remains mostly hidden until you arrive, & arrival is signaled by the subtle change in environment from aspen/mixed conifer to solo Ponderosas, to pinyon/juniper/cliff rose as the point narrows, looses elevation, becoming rockier & more exposed to desert sun & hot, dry inner canyon wind currents. Then suddenly, weary & tired, the incredible view blasts your eyes wide open. Once we were there, we dragged an old picnic table under the fragrant shade of ancient twisted junipers, ate our lunch & rested for nearly an hour. Tiyo Point affords fine & seldom seen views of many spectacular inner Canyon formations-- Manu Temple, Buddha Temple, Buddha Cloister, Cheops Pyramid, Isis Temple, Shiva Temple --of which I took many photos. I quite strongly believe that this canyonscape will become the model for the condor tapestry.
During my time here, I have become filled with the conviction that I want to represent a vista in the tapestry that isn’t “easy” or an iconic cliche. The views that are ubiquitously splashed & displayed on every imagined piece of Canyon memorabilia in some ways seem to loose their impact. I want to feel that I really worked to find the right setting, not relying on the convenient ease of leaning over a viewpoint railing, setting up my camera at an easily accessible overlook, or taking a hike that millions of feet have tramped. I had decided instead to “earn” the view & find one to represent that is recognizable to Park employees who live here breathing & living the Canyon as part of their lives, not as casual visitors. A few days ago, after talking to one of my young neighbors who works as part of the trail crew on both rims, he pointed us to Tiyo. After listening to his descriptions, this seemed to be the vista my mind was seeking & after our tired & satisfied return from this hike, my body is telling me I have definitely earned it!
9/16 day 12
Point Sublime. The next massive jutting promontory west of Tiyo Point & a 2 hour gut joggling four wheel drive ride through the successive North Rim habitat zones of spruce/fir forest, white fir forest, mountain grassland, Ponderosa pine forest, & pinyon/juniper woodland, each of which correlates with specific elevations. The road ends at the very point of this giant finger of land & is the only way to reach it. A lone primitive campground with 3 sites is also located there, but none were camped there upon our arrival. Two vehicles were leaving just as we arrived, so we had the point & all its eye widening wonders to ourselves for the entire afternoon.
The point is studded with huge, twisted junipers, cliff rose, & big sagebrush, & was quite exposed & hot compared to the shaded forests we had driven through on the way there. We stayed cool relaxing under the boughs of a fragrant juniper, enjoying lunch & the aerial acrobatics of ravens, falcons, & Stellar’s Jays, which dropped straight off of the cliffs swooping to their apparent deaths, only to magically reappear by floating effortlessly upwards on the updraft wind currents like small helium balloons. Rock squirrels & cliff chipmunks clambered about collecting seeds. The sound of their pattering paws, the swoosh of bird flight, & the swirling of wind through twisted tree limbs & eroded rock formations were nearly the only sounds we could hear. Later, we ventured out to take photos after the sun started receding from its zenith. My Rover handled the road’s terrain with ease both coming & going, delivering us back to the cabin in time for wine & sunset. A sublime day, indeed.
9/17 day 13
This morning, Dennis & I took a drive up to the Visitor Center so I could take photos of the interior, to have a reference for how the space is laid out. Capturing an image of the condor cutout hanging from the rafters was also valuable since it is life-size. Then a drive up Cape Royal Road to see if I could find an area with a view into the Canyon, but without tourist traffic, so I can try my hand at plein air weaving on the simple stretcher loom. I want a place where my vehicle is close at hand so I can bring along a good yarn palette, weaving tools, lunch, & plenty of water. I was inspired some time ago by Cresside Collette’s plein air tapestries done during her residency at Bundanon & have been hoping to have a chance to try it myself. I have come to see during my hikes that setting up with materials & tools close at hand, instead of trying to choose what will fit in a daypack, would be most successful. I am hoping for a little solitude to actually focus & weave, something which will not happen if I try to do this in an area highly populated with tourists! We found what appears to be a perfect spot, so I will try to go there within the next couple of days to give it a try. If it proves successful, I may spend most of my remaining residency there, weaving studies of the Canyon’s colorations & striations.
In the afternoon we headed for the Lodge Sunroom to set up for my second public weaving demo. It was another pleasant 2 hours with quite a few people stopping to observe, talk, & ask questions. One of the Park Volunteers & Gaelyn, the “Condor Ranger” both delivered the good news that there is a condor release planned for next Saturday! I have not yet seen a condor, & Dennis had stopped at Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon on his way here, but did not see any, so we had given up on making that long drive down & back up. I really feel I must see condors at some time before or during the weaving of this tapestry, not that I am capable of getting photos to work from for the tapestry, but for the validity of what I am undertaking in the weaving of it. The release date is the day I leave the North Rim, so I have reserved a room for that night in one of the lodges located at the base of the Vermillion Cliffs so I can stay to view the release. The release site is atop the cliffs themselves & the viewing area for releases is located between the Kaibab Plateau & the Cliffs. I can visit Navajo Bridge from that location as well, hopfeully to have another chance to view condors which were just in the last few days seen hanging out there.
Dennis leaves for home tomorrow & we had a very nice last dinner together at the Lodge this evening. I will have the remaining week of residency to myself & I am hoping it will be filled with successful plein air weaving, another good demo, & a little more trail time. Hopefully the hit or miss internet connection will allow me to upload this post… my previous post took several tries to publish & because of that I cannot include very many photos.