We took the West Fork trail
To Mayhew’s Lodge and
The Call of the Canyon.
‘There are seven more rivers to cross
Before we reach the trailhead’ said my love.
‘How do you know these things?’ I ask, impressed at his orientation.
‘I have passed this way before’ he replies.
At the third crossing I slip,
Chill ice-water drenching my shoes
When I put a foot wrong.
At the fourth I am mindful
Treading carefully to avoid the river’s wrath.
I wonder, briefly, at the women
Who crossed this way before.
The Pioneers, and wives of the famous
Who played here in its 1930s heyday.
How do I measure up to them?
And to the recently-departed girls,
The ones who didn’t make the grade.
When he asks ‘Shall we cross one more river?
Shall we go another mile?
Or have you had enough?’
How do I know if I’ve passed the test?
Either of my endurance or appreciation
Of this day’s passing beauty?
It is cooler by the river banks,
Where water meets the air.
Red rocks rising, Sedona’s gift.
Bugger the Vortex – this is the magic, right here.
Twisted oaks and hundred-year apple trees,
A legacy from the days of the lodge,
When movie stars, presidents and dream-makers
Played in the Canyon.
Walt, Jimmy, Hoover and the girls.
Have I crossed enough rivers? Or did I fall short?
Another pebble tossed in the stream
A stepping-stone for
The next girl on the trail.
The river says ‘Be calm. The time will come.
You have not yet learned my geography,
To negotiate your way through the Canyon
Like a new Pioneer.’