When you pay your entrance fee into the Grand Canyon National Park, don’t forget to get your free copy of The Grand Canyon Guide. This newspaper highlights seasonal events, new regulations or happenings and serves as a basic guide to the major sights and trails. Another excellent magazine was provided by the Yavasupai Lodge and is called The Grand Canyon Magazine (the names just keep getting more creative). This publication included a comprehensive guide to all the trails, hotels and restaurants and provided an in-depth history of the canyon and the people who inhabited it.
After an adrenaline-rushing hike down Hermit’s Trail, it was time for a rest at Dripping Springs. Sitting in an alcove of the canyon wall, we took off our dusty boots, took a bite of our Mediterranean pita sandwiches, and listened to Dave’s voice and the sound of water dripping into a small pool from above. Reading from letters and diary entries written by Everett Ruess, we imagined a young explorer’s only burro plunging from a trail into the Colorado River and his sufferings from poison ivy without the comforts or medicines of home. Ruess left his family to explore and paint the Grand Canyon before it was even a national park and disappeared there at the age of twenty. Gazing out into the red walls of the canyon, and knowing how treacherous the trails can be, Ruess’s struggle and bravery fascinated us.
Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty by W.L. Rusho
The Havasupai Lodge
On our last night in the Canyon, we sat under a sky devoid of stars save the Big Dipper. Bats flew, dogs howled. I could barely see the outline of the top of the canyon walls against the night- I closed my eyes. With a flashlight attached to his head, Dave began to read to us, this time from "the bible of the west." After exploring the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion on his own, Edward Abbey recorded his adventures in Desert Solitaire. We listened to the 12 pages of a chapter titled "Havasu."
Abbey got distracted from a trip to Los Angeles by stories he’d heard of the Havasupai Indian reservation and of the beautiful Havasu Falls close to their village. He decided to stay at Havasu, at a little log cabin now called The Havasupai Lodge. We listened as Abbey explored and wandered the canyons, not knowing where he’d end up. He lived dangerously and stared adventure- and death- straight in the face. One night, after barely escaping from the bottom of a side canyon where nothing but sheer, straight rock walls surrounded him, he wrote:
"I stretched out in the coyote den, pillowed my head on my arm and suffered through the long, long night, wet, cold, aching, hungry, wretched, dreaming claustrophobic nightmares. It was one of the happiest nights of my life."
It was as if Abbey was still out there, somewhere beyond the gates of the Havasupai Lodge.
Desert Solitaire, A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey