As we left the Hualapai Visitor Center we entered the reservation. The houses were small and many in various states of disrepair. Almost all had old cars and what we white folk would call junk piled in the yards. Joe explained that we had to remember the Native American culture is different from ours. It is deeply ingrained in the Native Americans to not waste anything. Throw something away and you are bound to need it later. He also explained that the housing was supplied by the tribe. This tribe also supplies medical services to its members. Each tribe works differently supplying different goods and services to its members but the bottom line is that they take care of their own.
It would have been rude to take pictures so none of us did plus the road, like the roads on the reservation in South Dakota, was dirt so we were bumping around quite a bit. We didn’t linger in the village. Our permit would only allow us to get out of the van twice. Once at a spot of Joe’s choosing and again at the bottom of the Canyon. The tribe has a ranger patrolling the roads so Joe said it was important to comply with all the regulations and restrictions.
As we started the downward grade Joe continued to point out the geological sights and even gave us a lesson on the ” Great Unconformity” a gap in time in the geologic record of the Grand Canyon of over a billion years. The missing layers of sediment were first noted in the Grand Canyon by the explorer John Wesley Powell. Unconformities are not unique to the Grand Canyon but like the Canyon itself, it is one of the largest known.
Not too much after that Joe said he saw the ranger coming so he pulled over and got our paperwork out. It was a reminder that when we are on a reservation we are in another nation. Native American Reservations are sovereign nations unto themselves.
Back on the roads again, papers in order we bumped and slid for a while longer before Joe pulled the van over to the side of the road. We all got out for a quick leg stretch and he turned us lose to take pictures with one stipulation. We were NOT to leave the road.
So far the month of May had been unusually wet in the area. It’s normally one of the driest months but there had been a lot of rain and the desert was blooming. There were predictions of showers all day too but so far none had hit us. Joe pointed out different plants and their uses one of which is called a Wiki up. The Indians used it to make shelters by bending the long stalks over and then covering them with grass and shrubs.
Back in the van Joe explained that even if we didn’t get rained on, we still had to be aware of the possibility of a flash flood. By now we were following small creek called Diamond Creek. It meandered along next to the road even crossing it now and then. It didn’t look like that big a stream but Joe pointed out where previous flash floods had rushed down depositing huge boulders, rocks and gravel. The last bit of road actually was in the creek. Then we turned a corner and we were there.
I was looking at the Colorado River.
I was in the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon! Even today only about 1% of the people who visit the Canyon ever make it to the bottom. What an awesome feeling!
Joe pulled out coolers with sandwiches and water and pointed out where the “facilities ” were located then we were turned loose to explore.
A raft was pulled up on the bank as we watched two more rafts come down the river running the rapids.
Another raft pulled in that was a science vessel. The people on that raft were doing a count of bugs that had been released in the canyon to combat another invasive species. They wanted to be sure the bugs were not out of control compounding the problem they were supposed to correct.
Where Diamond Creek entered the Colorado a Great Blue Heron settled in to look for its lunch.
Some of the other passengers climbed up to a cat walk around the bluff. The rest of us received permission from the Native American at the river to cross Diamond Creek where Joe showed us some fossils in the rocks.
Crossing back I spotted a fish that swam right over my feet. Since my shoes where now soaked I had to make it official. I waded in the river. I can now retire those sneakers and say they waded in the Colorado River at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon!
There were no flash floods today and pretty soon Joe said it was time to start the climb back up out of the canyon.
We made one stop again for pictures and met the ranger a 2nd time. Back on top Joe took us to Snow Cap on RT 66 for ice cream and more chances to get pictures.
This time of the RT 66 memorabilia.
Back in the van for the last time Joe started the stories of the Native Americans.
It is not a pretty history and it is not they way we are taught in school. In many ways it’s very sad. Often I felt a sence of outrage and shame at the arrogance of the white man and their disrespect for the Indian. The van was silent as he talked. Joe said he didn’t mean to depress us but he felt it was better to tell the truth. His stories lasted until we pulled into Sedona and would take up far more room than I have here but one of the biggest truths for me was that the Indians learned to murder and torture from us. They learned to scalp from the Mexicans. Native Americans were a peaceful people. We, the white people, caused the bloody Indian Wars, not the other way around.
I am also happy to report that Dave, from Native American Journey’s honored the original quote and processed a credit of $40.00 for the over charge. Also since he used the wrong bank card resulting in an over draft fee, he refunded the $27.00 bank charge. The refunds were processed promptly and without any hassle. I must admit that after all the confusion I am happy to say I can recommend them. Joe was great and the tour delivered everything they promised. It was worth the cost and they acted responsibly in responding to my issues.