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  • Lisa Parsons

We Glide on Green Water Below the Navajo Bridges

Grand Canyon

Day 1, On the River

Lees Ferry to Soap Creek Camp, Mile 0-11.3

Badger Creek Rapid (Class 5)

The entry into our journey is calm. We paddle down from Lees Ferry through the Paria Riffle as the sun breaks through the shadows of morning. We float into the tall red rock canyons that I stood above the evening before watching Condors claim the airspace as their own.

We glide on green water below the Navajo Bridges. The arcing metal contrasts against the natural canyon walls.

A Coconino Sandstone monolith stands as a sentinel to downstream. The echoing trill of a canyon wren heralds our departure. As we pass beyond, ducks take to the air, the flapping of their wings reflected in the mirror of water.

We say goodbye to the constant churning of the human world and enter the Canyon, a place, a National Park, left for us to discover by those who went before us.

Each journey is a return to our tribal selves, in a floating village, beneath the canyon rim. Here we rely on a community of strangers. This is a journey that can lay bare all that we've questioned, about ourselves and others. What answers will we find in the challenge to thrive in this desert of water, wind, and hard edges?

In this moving meditation, we contemplate solemn thoughts devoid of the certainty of where and when we belong. Our time is now measured by the passage of the sun and moon across a reverse river of sky reflected on the water we travel upon.

Today we float to Soap Creek Camp via our first real rapid, Badger Creek. At 11,000 c.f.s. it seems like a ghost of the image left in my mind from 2012 when it ran at 26000 c.f.s. My I.K. (inflatable whitewater kayak) can stand up to this challenge. The challenge in the waves and the eddy fences. Even the fences are more like friendlier attack dogs than the thundering jaws of the Sabertooth Tigers I remember.

A riffle here and there and our coined “NADA rapids” (more about those later) greet us as we follow the twists and turns of the river to Soap Creek Camp. Day 1 was kind and left us hopeful that we could stand up and be humbled and not broken by this mighty river.

Next up, House Rock and the Roaring Twenties...

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