Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Six Days in the Hole

I can't remember when I first wanted to hike the Grand Canyon. Possibly since my first car visit to the Rim with my parents, when I was a child. Possibly when I drove cross county and stopped for a look over the edge with my wife, Rebecca. But whenever the desire was sparked it's been one of those experiences I've longed to try. 

This year, over Spring Break, I finally got my chance. I hiked the Canyon with my son Parks. This was the annual Grand Canyon trip of the Friday Harbor High School hiking club, led by history teacher Jim McNairy. Twenty-two  people went, sixteen kids and six adults. This was two large a crowd to get a single hiking/camping permit. We split into two groups. Mine was led by Cheryl Opalski and her husband Kent. I added an extra set of grown-up eyes. We hiked from Hermit's Rest to Hermit Creek, then to Hermit Rapids, Boucher Rapids and Granite Rapids, with a final night at Monument before hiking back to Hermit's Rest.  The hiking was hard. The scenery was aridly gorgeous - right on the cusp of spring, with wild flowers just beginning to bloom. The weather perfect: blue skies, temperatures in the 70s, not a drop of rain, the occasional light breeze. Chamber of Commerce weather. 

I sketched every day in my Moleskin sketchbook. The cream colored pages are heavy enough to accept water color without wrinkling and the cover was robust enough to handle the rigor of the Canyon's razor-edge topography. I sketched in pencil and painted with my Cotman watercolor set.  Here's a view from Granite Rapids at sunrise and another of  our fearless leaders, Cheryl and Kent.

Two views from Hermit Creek: sunset and moonlight.

Kent challenged me to paint an especially interesting boulder next to our Hermit Creek campsite, covered in multi-colored lichens. It was challenging.