Blushing Bride, Inferno, & Chambers
The next month was to be the most formative of my exploring career, but not in the way I would have predicted. The ease of Blushing Bride gave me no indication of the strife and discontent that was to follow. We cruised through the canyon and played around in the Jilted Fork a bit before we met the rest of the group and moved on to our next objectives.
Inferno turned out to be a pivotal experience. When I jumped in and dashed into the front, it never crossed my mind that I was hogging the lead. I just got in canyon focus mode and forged ahead without a second thought. My partners didn't appreciate that I was not giving anyone else a chance to enjoy the point position. Fortunately, they were not shy in telling me of my transgressions, and that allowed me to continue to be a part of the team. That they were able to air their grievances and clear the tension is an indication of the quality and the maturity of my friends. Of course, the point position is the best place to be. It's the "cutting edge" of canyon exploration. The person in front gets the strongest feeling of the unknown and is confronted with new problems to solve at every bend. Everyone deserves a chance to take the lead and I should have known it. Inferno was a challenging slot and none of us was dissatisfied with the canyoneering that we encountered.
We moved on to Chambers a couple of days later, thinking we were trying something new. When we found another group's gear in the canyon it didn't diminish the experience one bit. I don't for a moment believe that we are the first to trod these seldom traveled slots. The area has been occupied for thousands of years, and man has always checked out every nook and cranny of his environment. Why should the slot canyons be any different?
No doubt, the slots are difficult to access but we often find signs that ancient peoples have been there before us. Then there are the cowboys, miners, and other historical visitors to the canyon country. The cowboys are famous for delving into the remote places on the Colorado Plateau and miners always seem to have touched the most forbidding places in search of riches. More recently, river runners and other desert travelers have been poking into the slots for many decades. Finally, there are the modern canyoneers, who are a secretive bunch. Many of the canyons that feel new to us may have been descended by the several groups of highly qualified canyoneers who have been searching out such places for the last thirty years.
But it really doesn't matter if we are the first to be there. It is the first we know of anyone being there, and that is enough.