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Grand Canyon spring survey: the poems are flowing too

June 17, 2013

Last month I was privileged to spend a week in the Inner Canyon on a Grand Canyon Field Institute backpacking trip; the purpose was to collect data about springs along our route: Bill Hall trail to Thunder River/Tapeats Creek to Deer Spring/Deer Creek.

The GCFI trip leaders were amazing: experts in botany, hydrology, and all-around Canyon story-tellers. I took some notes during the trip, more in the few days at the North Rim that followed it, and last week I was SUPER-privileged to spend some time at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony. This is a beautiful artists retreat south of Temecula, CA, that has “sprung from the ashes” of a wildfire almost ten years ago. Now there’s two new cabins, re-sprouted oaks and chaparral, and lots of solitude to write away.

So I did.

One of these pieces new pieces is below; it begins with a quote from a book that was on the reading list the GCFI sent out with the pre-hike information (along with a great training program to prepare for the excursion . . . it was definitely the most challenging bit of exploring I’ve done: miles and miles of steep rock-rough “trails” while carrying a week’s worth of gear and food. But thank the Lord and my physical therapy team, I made it with a smile on my face.)

Anyhoo: the book was called Aridland Springs in North America; I read some chapters deeply, skimmed the more technical ones, and received a mini-education about a precious (and, sadly, endangered) natural phenomena–please note I did not call them “resources” . . . after thinking about how that word categorizes things . . .

At the Intersection

“Springs exist at the intersection
of geological, hydrological,
and biological processes:
they are breeding grounds for change.”
Aridland Springs in North America p. 211

a few days to chase spray
to soak in the thunder
that roars from travertine mouths
out of limestone bellies
always hungry
for Kaibab Plateau snow-melt

how we steeped
in the refreshment
of relic biotas:
green proclamations
that life in parched places
will remain
only as long
as the flow goes on

what kind of change
happens at the intersection
of water and wonder . . .
what kind of change?

(this chair, this keyboard—
so dry and so strange)

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One of my fellow adventurers scales the side of steep Thunder River: where the water gushes right from the cliff face.

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Here I am posing for a classic Inner Canyon hiking photo. In the interest of not slowing everyone down to my barefooted pace, I wore my Merrell Pipidae Wrap sandals most of the time I was hiking with my full pack on. They worked very well; I started to write another review of them, then realized during my research as to how much they weighed, etc., that Merrell has discontinued them. After only a year.


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