Nov 15, 2012

Steinbeck (Tabor) Canyon, The Redesign of a Beautiful Canyon

Better to write for yourself and have no public,
Than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly 

Entry to the canyon
For a second time on our way south away from winter and towards warmth and new vistas, we re-visited a place we had strongly connected with the first time we saw it. For no other reason than to see it after a rainy season or when it was not quite so hot so we would be able to take more time to enjoy it.

This instance, instead of the mangrove of Puerto Balandra having been transformed, we witnessed the amazing redesign or reconstruction of Steinbeck (Tabor) Canyon.

When we last were here about three months ago, the canyon was dry and scattered with huge boulders, some as large as two story homes. It took us over an hour to reach where the canyon was too steep to explore further without proper mountain climbing equipment.

This time, and to our utter amazement, the boulders had been completely engulfed by small stones and gravel so that we were able to walk much further up the canyon, having no bouldering to do whatsoever.

It was sad to see this redesign of nature, for we truly enjoyed the beauty of the variously colored boulders stacked in assorted configurations, dotted with palms, fig trees, cacti, and other bushes. In its stead were, barely clinging to cracks in the rocks, denuded tree trunks with their bark completely stripped off, leaving white skeletons of what were once large trees for the desert. Remnants of trunks, roots, and branches twisted around rocks, cacti, or other trees like beaver dams awaiting the next big spring rain.

White tree trunk and roots hugging canyon wall
Trees that three months ago we rested under their welcome shade 20-30 feet above our heads were now at our level rather than us looking up at them.

Fifteen to twenty-five feet deep swimming pools often followed by long waterslides completely vanished, simply filled with gray gravel and stones with, as their only tribute, the sound of water running underfoot below the rocks we were now standing on. It is eerie to hear so much water rushing unseen below your feet. Wondering when things underfoot will suddenly let go.

Boulders at end of canyon with Marie-France and Nikki (butt only)
It is stunning to see how much change can happen nearly overnight with a storm carrying so much rain. It is astonishing to think of the power, energy, force, danger, and magnitude of it all. If this, in only a day or so, how much in 10,000 years?

Boulders at end of canyon, above a small flat area to right, the waterfall
At the upper end of the canyon was a beautiful waterfall ending its plunge atop a round red rock. Spectacular but we were quickly reminded of how short-lived this one may be as well. Locals say the canyon was the way we first saw it, boulders and all, for over 50 years. We witnessed the end of a long era and the beginning of a new one.

At end of canyon, waterfall to right
To observe this mammoth change was really a gift to behold and Nikki, this time, was able to scamper along unlike our last visit where there was too much bouldering for her to follow. She loved the adventure and ran around like the young doggie she no longer is supposed to be.

Water falls on round red rock - beautiful
What would John Steinbeck think of these changes, a writer who loved this area so much he wrote a book about it: Log of the Sea of Cortez.

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