|Posted on February 26, 2010 at 4:35 PM|
The slope of the path required chains anchored into the sandy rock. Water poured down the rock not unlike those wall fountains in building lobbies. The difference here was the steel chains were ice cold and the sand filled water poured down on our heads and inside our shirts. We pressed against the rock and slowly edged our way across the slippery path. Half way my daughter panicked. She refused to move another foot - a literal foot. My husband had taken our son ahead and he needed everything he had to help my son. My youngest daughter was at the end of the line taking everything very calmly.
I was the only to help. I looked directly into her eyes and told her to breathe. In my mind, I was thinking if you can with sand in your mouth. Breath and don't look down. Shift a little at a time and look at me, not down, not up, not out. Just at me. In this fashion, we slowly inched our way 20 feet to the level trail and off the chains. A few short switchbacks later and we were catching our breath under a rock overhang. We looked out over the valley and the long series of switchbacks that had almost emcapcitated me on the way up. We rung out sleeves, wiped faces with gritty hands and took a breath. Until we heard a rumble and gush of water. I looked down at watched the rock wall over the switchback giveway and tumble down 1,000 feet onto the valley floor. Behind the rock, water poured out in a smaller waterfall. It just kept coming. It never slowed. The worst part. It was blocking our path. We would have to walk through the hard part and then again and again as we went down the switchbacks.
My mind was numbing with cold and my feet were cold. Wait a minute, my feet were wet. The water was pooling around my feet and pouring down the small series of switchbacks we had just walked. And here we stood under a rock overhang not unlike the one that had just given way. Smart move midwesterner tourists.
Holding hands and moving slowly so we wouldn't slide down the canyon wall, we left our safe haven. A few moments later, just before we reached the waterfall, I heard a roar.
Now you don't me all that well. I have suffered severe hearing loss from chemotherapy. So if I heard it, it must have been an incredible roar. I turned to look and the entire rock face gave way to raging waterfall that plummeted 1,500 feet to the floor of the canyon. Trees, rocks, boulders rushed out with it. We were witnessing a flash flood. Just minutes after we left that overhang.
Now it was my daughters turn to help me down. She took my hand and quietly tugged me forward. We plowed through the smaller waterfall and all the subsequent waterfalls. I couldn't take my eyes off the enourmous waterfall now in front of me. The sound filled my ears and senses. I admit that I was in shock.
We finally reached the bottom and the rain had stopped. The water continued to pour from the top of the canyon cliff and tourists poured from the buses to take pictures. In halting steps, my family made their way to the bus stop. We were drenched, white from cold and covered in sand. We looked as if we had swam in the sea and rolled on the beach.
The looks we got.