Canyon Tales
Across the Ages
by Penny Martens

What drives the spirit of adventure? Is it the thirst of youth? Is it the experience of maturity? Do they, Youth and Maturity, dream the same dream? Do they view a crack in a small side drainage the same; as a challenge to overcome?

On a Saturday in October, DaveWyo went down West Blarney in the morning with friends. Steven Arhart went down the same canyon with family and friends in the afternoon.

When both groups reassembled at Sandthrax Camp for late afternoon snacking and yakking, this story unfolded.

Dave and Steven, Maturity and Youth, had each in their own group, unbeknownst to the other, decided to attempt to down climb the same minor side slot into the canyon while the rest of the two groups rappelled in by the standard route. Each spied the same crack on the far side of the canyon and deemed it possible. At the least, it was worth a try.

They chose slightly different routes on the smooth sandstone. They skittered and slithered and quickly found themselves at the bottom and at the same level as the end of the first rap.

Decades lay between Youth and Maturity, but on this day they were separated only by hours. As each turned and looked up what they had just climbed down, they knew they wanted to climb up and do it again. They each added rocks to the pile that was already there and ascended the down route only to turn around and descend to the canyon floor a second time, this time with more surety and grace.

Each joined their respective groups and headed down canyon. It wasn’t until the afternoon gathering that the significance dawned. For many, it never materialized. They listened to the beginning details then turned to their own adventures of the day.

Youth and Maturity turned to each other, eyes gleaming, voices animated and continued their stories in urgent staccato, interrupting each other with phrases such as:

“Me, too. Then I ...”


“Me, too. Did you ...”

As I listened, their stories merged, blurring time. What happened hours apart was separated now only by the speed of thought, slowed by the speed of speech.

Later, Dave said he didn’t feel so old that day. He had envisioned the same challenge, then the same solution as Steven, a much younger man.

My romantic heart, would like to believe that Steven walked away thinking, he chose the same challenge and solution as a very experienced canyoneer.


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© 2008 Penny Martens