One Hell of a Mile 2

When I first saw the river it took my breath away. Oftentimes cave explorers have a tendency to exaggerate the scale of their aquatic discoveries. Small pools become lakes; a trickle from the ceiling might become a waterfall in stories told aboveground. Not so this river.

Frustrated by our recent thwarted attempts to access the underground river of the Grand Canyon, I returned a few days later, alone this time, for a final try.

My journey to the cave entrance alone was a worthy endeavor. I saw no other humans for days as I traveled deeper into the canyon than ever before. I forded river after river and hiked along trails that hugged close to the edges of the soaring cliffs. Soon my GPS became useless, the towering rocks all me around blocked any signal. I had only myself to rely on now: I had decided to carry no map, no compass, trusting that I had memorized the winding, claustrophobic passages that would lead me to the cave's opening.

Eventually, unable to mark my progress, unable to see the canyons from overhead as I had in my preparations, I began to fear I was lost. My steps became frantic, my thoughts desperate. But as I pressed on, a once distant, quiet, roar had begun to grow in strength. As I sloshed down the flooded canyon, heart racing, I saw the Thunder River surging from the canyon walls high above. The falls blast from an opening hundreds of feet overhead, and the water crashes down with an almost deafining roar into the canyon below. It served as one of the most important waypoints on my route. I was still on my way.

Finally the canyon through which I traveled began to widen and reveal the sky to me once again. As I stepped into the vast amphitheater I had stood upon the upper edge of only days before, I felt as if I had entered a prehistoric world, separated long ago and forgotten by modern time. Indeed, there were grasshoppers as large as birds, and a monstrous butterfly, its wings stretched open like the pages of a paperback novel. A mysterious fog hung over the river that surged into the canyon that now lay behind me. I squared my shoulders and pushed on, in search of its headwaters. I knew then, this time, I had made it!

The passages begin to widen...

Around the dark corner I saw the edge of an underground hill. I inflated my tube and crossed the flooded passage...

Squeezing through an opening near the top of the hill, I emerged quite suddenly into a vast corridor through which the river coursed.

The Team Crowbar field expediant survival suit.

On the way, a leg of my tripod broke off, a loss that could jeopardize the photography. I carved a new one of wood during lunch.


See the world, they
told me...

bayou goula towhead

the sea test

the circumnavigator pt5
the circumnavigator pt4
the circumnavigator pt3
the circumnavigator pt2
the circumnavigator pt1
falling dream
the darkness
one hell of a mile 3&4
he will return
the believers
the horror pt2
the horror pt1
death valley

paradise of outlaws
the mountain climbers 1&2
brought to surface
one hell of a mile 3
the lost world
inner gorge
a ghost story
the riddle
slaying the minotaur
heart of darkness
public lands
organ music
two sought adventure
the virgin river
the road north

steal the world
the end of the world
el dorado
the valley of the kings 2
the valley of the kings 1
one hell of a mile 2
one hell of a mile 1
the mountain climbers rr4
heroes rr3
rainy roadtrip 2
rainy roadtrip 1
the transgression
sinister 2
sinister 1
new chapter

like sedona?
torn in two
bridge to nowhere
the door
hitting the wall
elusive 2
elusive 1
pick up lines

revisited 2
revisited 1
which way?
lost mines
in their footsteps
a dance with death

casting the bones
mountain thief
the deer hunter
strange temple
burial pt. 3
burial pt. 2
burial pt. 1
the apparition
return to hell
the lower depths
underground lake
stretch sewer
the hidden lab
shadow movements
meager rations
sw8: the conclusion
sw7: lost gold mines
sw6: the big tubes
sw5: gold!
sw4: el calderon
sw3: redondo
sw2: ghosts
sw1: westward bound
formaldehyde dreams
the underdark
in the beginning