Day 10: Hike at Tapeats


This was supposed to be a day where we had chance to do some hiking and not be on the river so much. It was. The hike was not supposed to be too difficult except for a scramble at the beginning where we had to gain several hundred feet in elevation by going up a talus slope. After that it was said to be pretty level.

Well, yes and no. There was the scramble up the talus slope. You can see where we came from (bottom right) to get up to where we were. The slope was maybe 35-40 degrees, and it was taxing, but not especially so. Then it leveled out. But what they hadn't explained too well was the exposure on that level trail. If you look at the photo you'll see a horizontal line at the left, just below the midline of the photo. That's the trail. Yes, it's level, but it parallels within a couple of feet of the edge of the cliff and that cliff is straight down for a couple of hundred feet.

I have a fear of heights. Completely irrational, but very real. When I saw where we were supposed to go my bowels started to get watery and there were black spots in front of my eyes. For most people it would have been safe, but not for me. So I turned around and went back down.


apache plume
photo by John Hesemann

This shrub of Apache Plume, Fallugia paradoxa, shows the challenges of life in the arid canyon country. Its roots are wedged into a crack in the rock to anchor it and to get at the residual moisture from the occasional rains, its battered trunk and twisted shape reflect the wind blown sand and flash floods that it has to endure. It is nature's version of a bonsai.

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