Going down seems easy at first, but you have to keep your eyes open. Staying at the edge feels edgy, but there is nothing like going deep into a canyon. You can see what you think might be down there, but you don’t know for sure until you are there. In the bottom of the canyon, the top seems an illusion.
We set out to explore the White House Trail. It is the only trail that is available to hike without a Navajo guide. We wove around and down and around again. It was a beautiful mix of color, canyon, and sand. The dryness amazed me. I could see green at the bottom. There were stairs at times and just plain rock to walk on. The air was filled with ancient stories. We stopped to drink water, but the children were anxious to get to the bottom. It is only a two-hour hike, and we knew we needed to be at the top by sunset.
When we reached the bottom of the canyon, looking up was the only thing to do. I felt small, yet safe in this large moment. There is a fence and a sign at the bottom that says “No Trespassing and No Pictures.” There are families that still live in this canyon, and they want their privacy. Once at the bottom, we crossed more rock, a little pasture, and sandy part that had a bridge. I crossed the bridge. Most of the kids romped through the sand. Don’t they always pick the places with the most texture? They want to sense everything. Why do we lose this desire? What happens when we become adults that we just want to have our hands clean, bottoms comfy on a soft couch, and our skin unaffected as a result of adjusted temperatures. Shame on us. Anyone reading this should drop their mouse and their latte and go play in the dirt. Better yet, roll in it.
Onward we went until we reached the ruins. The ruins were fenced off and we had to look up to see them, but they were clearly dwellings in the side of the canyon. There was some whiteness to them (hence the name), and it is not a large ruin area. I wondered as a mother what it would be like to live in such a place with my family…how cold, how hot, where would I cook, what would the children do all day. There would be chores aplenty to go around, but what beauty would we behold in every moment. Would I see it if it were always around me? Do I see the beauty around me now?
We had a snack and drank more water while viewing these beautiful ruins. We were happy to find toilets there by the ruins, but you must pack in your own water. Everyone set their sights on the top again, and we began the hike back with a few little stops to explore a bit more. The ascent out of a canyon is tough since you have spent your excited energy on the explore down. I think if you are in a canyon of life and you must ascend, it takes a special energy to commit to it. This wasn’t a long or difficult climb for our group, and everyone was in good spirits when we reached the top.
Back at our campground, a feast was being prepared. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law had left chickens roasting in coffee cans for the afternoon on hot coals. I saw the huge pot on the gas boiler full of corn on the cob, potatoes, sausage, and more. Everyone helped set up a big table, spread foil on the table, and dumped the boiling pot contents all along it. I honestly say to you that it was one of the better meals of my life. After eating, we sat around the campfire and sang songs. It was picturesque.
The fire at night is one of the jewels of camping for me. We sit. We laugh. We just are.
Finally, we all went to bed knowing the next day, we had to break camp and head to the Grand Canyon at last.
To be continued…