Carefully positioning my last few steps, I complete my descent into the canyon that holds the crystalline waters I had studied from the rim an hour earlier. Moving out of the dense vegetation, I am excited to be standing on the canyon floor. Luckily, the place I have just entered holds me in fascination and replaces the nagging thought of retracing the steep path later today.

The trail to the rim aside, I am captivated by what nature has sculpted into this narrow section of the earth's skin. Though I have just discovered this idyllic spot, my anticipation of what lies ahead prompts my quick departure downstream. Admiring nature's handiwork along the way, I study my surroundings and find a wide variety of plant life thriving in an area scarce of top soil; an abundance of boulders, large and small, strewn about as obstacles to the persistent journey of the small creek; the creek itself, silt free and gentle, moving slowly across a bed of solid sandstone; and the ever imposing, vertically forbidding canyon walls. Buff in color, they reach up to a narrow strip of the bluest of skies while at the same time plung down to the bottom of the deepest of transparent pools.

My attention drifts between these features and my inherent logic is challenged to understand how this placid stretch of water could be the sole creator of this wonderland of eroded sandstone. As I hike, I notice the remnants of a debris line in the branches of surrounding trees well above the canyon floor. Remembering the record amount of precipitation the previous year and the resultant torrents of mud stained waters coursing down our rivers and creeks, it becomes somewhat easier to understand the awesome power of the combined elements added to the passage of time and the cumulative product of their efforts.

I continue downstream and my mind wonders freely as my senses absorb an abundance of stimuli. I enter a particularly awe-inspiring area and immediately place it at top of my mental list of most beautiful places discovered only to have it replaced when I round the next bend.



I sit for a moment and become aware of maybe the most precious resource I will find. Thinking back on this morning's journey, I recall noticing it early while standing on the canyon rim curious of what awaited. Again I sensed its presence during a brief rest on the trail when catching a glimpse of the small ribbon of water below. And it surfaced throughout the morning as I paused, fascinated with these surroundings. It is this incredible sound I now focus on. The wind caressing the trees, the birds singing for all to hear, the ever present rumbling, drifting music of the creek as it reverberates within the canyon walls. Of all that surrounds, it is the sound of nature wild, unadulterated and pure that stirs the emotions and builds the addiction in my soul. I now realize the visual impressions gathered today are indeed incredible but when entwined with their audio compliments, the acuity of this adventure garners intense emotions able to sustain the wonder of this wilderness in my memory.

The remainder of the day is spent walking, jumping, climbing, swimming, looking, listening, and basically doing whatever necessary to extract as much pleasure as possible from this land of vertical rock and glistening water. All too soon I must turn around and head back to civilization. Before leaving, I breathe in as much fresh, sweet air as my lungs can hold. I scan the canyon walls and the creek's ripples and pools to imprint yet one more image into the back of my mind. Then just before I begin my climb up the steep trail, I close my eyes and open my heart so I may savor these last precious moments of relaxation and wonder.

As I slowly work my way out from this jewel of the natural world, my heart pounds rapidly and my breath comes quick. The true struggle, however, is not one of physical exertion, but of the broken bond with the canyon below. Saddened by my departure, I open my soul and, uplifting my spirit, find myself back amongst the towering cliffs and peaceful, inviting pools.