Friday, May 6, 2016

Grand Canyon by Haiku

The Grandest Canyon
How to relay our journey?
Haikus will tell all


Electronic toys
Left behind as we turn to
Focus on what's real
First view of Colorado River en route to the boat, at Marble Canyon Bridge
Met our brave boatmen
 Our lives gladly in their hands
Jon, Owen, and Max

L to R: Max, Jon, Owen from Arizona Raft Adventures

Jon, our head boatman
Passion for Canyon is clear
Knowledge unsurpassed

Owen, Maine madman
Guitar-playing boatman and
Chef extraordinaire

Max, the apprentice
Memorable desserts nightly
No job too messy

 Creating A New Rhythm

Seeing same bridge from a different angle, we're off!

Enter the Canyon
Boat ripples carry worries
Away from our souls

Boat bumps into sand
The clatter when spoon meets bowl
First lunch upon us

Back on the river
Soak in sights, sounds, and spirits
Listen together


Pick a sandy beach
Tents and sleeping bags unpacked
Wine, crochet, haikus!

In the evening light
Incredible scenes grace camp
Beauty honors us

Powell Plateau as one camp backdrop, named for famous Canyon explorer John Wesley Powell


Leave no trace behind
Carry everything with us
Poop in a bucket
Groover hid in trees
River scene is paramount
Privacy, bonus!

The old way--but no more!

Known as "the groover"
Named for old way of "s_itting"
Ammo cans left grooves!

 The night awakens
Canyon walls glow with moonlight
Stars dance while we sleep

Full moon arising
Illuminating canyon
Bucket list check-off!

Wake up at midnight
Realize sleep will not visit
Must find friend groover

Canyon wren, sunlight
Ushers away the nighttime
Brings forth a new day

Morning light on canyon walls is beyond haikus

Add to eggs: smoked salmon with capers, fresh fruit, and coffee
(can you believe this??)

Best breakfast ever
Is one cooked by someone else
Eggs made to order

Owen--like I said: chef extraordinaire

Breakfast on the beach
Sunrise on vermilion bluffs
Water flows by camp

Morning routines are not "routine" unless you make them so:
Morning yoga-thing, fishing through bags getting ready to go...
Need something from bag
Why always at the bottom?
Unpack and repack



Ancient scorpion
Under my sister's gear bag
Welcomed to our world

Daily schlepping of bags to load (or unload)

Blue bag and white bag
And blue bag and white bag and
Blue bag and white bag


We are grasshoppers
Mornings come with new lessons
Understanding grows

From my sister Mary:
Tank tops to thermals
Chapped dry lips, soggy wet feet
Hands like sandpaper

Avoiding the sun is almost like avoiding the rain. Cover up!

Osprey flies ahead
Leading to a river curve
A new vista greets

From my brother Jeff:
Sue goes on and on
She's obsessing on Haikus
Makes me and others groan (that's 6 syllables, Jeff, not 5!)

Exploration: Short Hikes

Hiking in the sun
Paying homage to those who
Walked here before us

Petroglyphs: messages from history

Still sacred today to Native Americans, tokens of respect are often left

Turquoise chips abound
Hopi spirits welcome us
Such a sacred site

Continue onwards;
Float river or hike canyon
New sights every day

Pool of water shines
Beckoning to venture on
Green grotto is prize

Decades-old exploratory cave created for potential dam site
(that never transpired)

Monolithic walls
Compete to touch the heavens
Each one sees success

First longer day hike
Carbon Canyon, Saddle Creek,
Lava Chuar back

Visiting a site with pictographs
Quiet ancient art
Still speaks to us across time
Lives on forever

Exploration II: Little Colorado River

From start to finish
Clear water to blue water
Little Colorado
(six syllables, yes, I know...too bad)

Little Colorado River where it meets "big" Colorado River;
very different from its headwaters in our home, the White Mountains!

Calcium carbonate springs feed into LCR
Husband goin' on a ride!

The train!

Exploration III: Tapeats Creek, Surprise Valley, "the Patio," Dutton's Spring, Deer Creek

Long day hike explained
Lots of up and lots of down
Worthwhile adventure!

Hiking up Tapeats Creek canyon

Knees creak, legs on fire
And still we keep walking up
Turn a corner to...


Tapeats Creek

...see the wonder of
green grotto among red rock;
life among stillness


First view of Thunder River

Waterfalls abound
Rare jewels valued more than gold
Life thrives despite odds

Desert sheep leave sign
I am among cliff dwellers
River, far away

Head down from the falls
Down we go and down some more
Look up--see your world

Dutton's Spring

From Bruce:
Bubbling cascade
Spewing from red sandstone wall
Joyous cactus wren

Bruce, at Dutton's spring
Did a Sudoku puzzle
In honor of Dad

Deer Creek

Waterfall delight
'twas a three-waterfall day
Magic places, all

Last leg--getting back to the boat
Before we leave this hike,
I thought I should let you know
Our guides wore flip-flops!

Exploration IV: The Inner Gorge

Billion year old rocks
We've left the millions behind
Welcome, Inner Gorge

See Earth's beginnings
What stories Canyon tells us
We love to listen

Day of whitewater
Tingling anticipation
Merge with river's soul

Granite recipe
Take mica, feldspar, and quartz
Burn, press hard, and wait

Camping in the Inner Gorge

Difference in time between my index and middle fingers:
300 million years.
The Great Unconformity = no sediment laid down permanently in that time
Time warp in old rock--
The Great Unconformity;
Layers blown away


Volcanoes, lava
Molded through cooling patterns
Basalt organ pipes!

Exploration V: Havasu Creek

Azure-blue water
Sings light songs while tumbling o'er 
Redwall limestone cliffs

From brother Jeff (yes, same one who groaned about my Haiku-ing earlier):

We went for a hike
Me & Sue & Havasu!
Blue water--wa-hoo!!!
Native bluehead suckers spawning.

Blue Havasu meets green Colorado
Lava Falls
Facing the unknown
We learned Canyon is master
Lava: Rapid King

note, video was taken of a smaller oar boat going down Lava Falls after us.
Will upload GoPro video of our boat when received

Elements: Wind, Water, Sand

Mouths shut, squinting eyes
Wind will try to force despair
Laugh with sand in teeth
Sand on every square millimeter of surface area;
this is of a clip from one of our bags
No shelter from wind
Blowing sand erodes all things
Except our spirits

This tent was zipped shut all night!!!

Elements: Flora, Fauna, and Fun

Earlier find from head boatman John, left where he found it
and used as learning tool

Bruce, 'splaining all about bighorn sheep

Elves Chasm

Me and my sibs

Happily awed husband

Unusual sighting of brown pelican

How do things grow in this rock???

Life on the river
is fleeting; we adapted
Stronger than before

Last morning--survivors!!!
Kneeling: Bill, Pat, Nikki, Greg
Standing: Owen, Stan, Max, Jon, Bob, Mary, Sue, Bruce, Sue, Jeff, Jo

Rocks are not solid
Shaped and changed by the river
And so too were we


If you got through this entire entry, holy smokes, thank you. I want to end this story with another story. Over the campfire, we asked our boatmen about their other memorable trips. One trip stood out for both Jon and Owen. In 2015, they were honored to host a group of wounded veterans through an arrangement with their Arizona Raft Adventures (our tour service), the Grand Canyon River Runners Association, and the Wounded Warrior Project. The trip became much more than a typical visitor-go-rafting trip; it was a form of healing to the vets that touched all involved. Here are two short articles describing the trip and its effect on both guides and veterans, one from Grand Canyon River Runners Association and another from the American Legion. Powerful thing, this Grand Canyon.

According to the Grand Canyon River Runners Association, they are planning on sponsoring another trip in August of 2016, and their article includes the ability for anyone to make an online donation to help support this upcoming trip.


  1. Cool. I figured you would give it a unique spin, and you did not disappoint. Thanks for sharing. (btw Jon [if he's Jon Hirsch] was a guide on one of our river trips 20+ years ago)

  2. A haiku's first line should have five
    Then seven before you arrive
    at the very last line
    Which you'd think should have nine
    But no you must stop it at five!

  3. Wow! Incredible journey and awesome pictures. Haikus are perfect way to express what you were seeing. I am jealous that you made it to the mouth of the Little Colorado. Your raft sure beats the help out of parking a rig at the bottom and driving to the top so you can walk down ��. Thanks for sharing.....I love it!!!!