Ahh, but what if you are camped on a mesa that lords over eroded badlands? Then you start walking downstream. A mistake.
Normally I feel an urge to dismantle rock cairns. What gives people the right to rob a route of its mystique and aura? But in this case, I was happy to see two cairns, at the first important junction on my first downstream walk. After all, I was out of practice.
The technique that works for me is to renounce the mindset of a tourist. Stop calling things 'beautiful' just because they are freakishly large and vertical. Instead, focus on topography and geology as active processes that occur on the time scale of a human being. Try to visualize how a certain feature was carved out. Sometimes my favorite features aren't even as tall as a person.
|A vertical arroyo-bank made of agglomerate.|
|How COULD it be so vertical?|
On the way back, I walked right by the two rock cairns that were trying to be helpful. By now I was suspicious of this canyon system. And yet, nature is more interesting as a dark-haired femme fatale -- named Natasha -- than as a dumb blonde pin-up girl, named Betty. Claustrophobia and heat, and now getting lost, were giving the canyon-maze a vague aura of malevolence.
In fact that is one way to relate to a canyon-maze: think of it as a type of film-noir. In Wikipedia's article on film noir, they say:
The low-key lighting schemes of many classic film noirs are associated with stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning—a style known as chiaroscuro (a term adopted from Renaissance painting).[c] The shadows of Venetian blinds or banister rods, cast upon an actor, a wall, or an entire set, are an iconic visual in noir and had already become a cliché well before the neo-noir era. Characters' faces may be partially or wholly obscured by darkness—a relative rarity in conventional Hollywood filmmaking. While black-and-white cinematography is considered by many to be one of the essential attributes of classic noir,Well, there certainly is a lot of that in the canyon-maze at sunrise and sunset.
But let's let the imagination run. (Otherwise, why do this? Why not just go to the gym and work out on the Stair-master?) There is something about a canyon-maze that is lewd and feminine. Nature, here in this canyon-maze, wasn't just a femme fatale in a film-noir; she was a succubus, a woman who has had sexual intercourse with the Devil.