American Frontiers PLIADOIBLMUSDA FSGeography Action from NGSHondaColemanCoca-Cola
Search
About
Dispatches
The Trek


The Trek

The Teams
Read bios about the team members and see photos.

Team Member Journals
Read online journals filled out by members of both Trek teams. Search by date, place and more.

Interactive and Downloadable Maps

Related Events

Trek Itinerary

Media Center



Exhibits
Lessons
Geo Action

PLIC Museum
Home

 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Monday, September 9
The Bridge Over the River Why



Last night Julie Nichols Overbaugh inadvertently attempted to drown me. She’s an amateur distance swimmer whose swimming holes are Alaskan waters.

On the motorboat ride back to our houseboat from a short sightseeing trip guided by Steve Ward, Julie asked to be dropped a half mile from the boat so she could swim back. Then she asked me to join her. I am comfortable swimming only moderate distances, but I said yes.
At a point Steve figured a half mile, I guesstimated it to be at least a mile, and declined to get in there. I know my limits but not Julie’s. She got in and began her swim. Steve dropped me where I thought the distance was a half mile, and I started to swim.
Julie, a speck in the distance, was reluctantly plucked from the water and brought to where I swam.

Together we swam to the boat, which was about one stroke too far for me. If Julie arrived tired, she didn’t show it.

Today’s only scheduled event is a visit to Rainbow Bridge, a giant natural sandstone arch formed by the forces of water.
Here we are asked to make a choice: to go under the giant sandstone arch or to stay back. We are asked this question by Indian people via a sign which reads: “To Native American tribes/nations, Rainbow Bridge is a sacred religious site. In respect of these long-standing beliefs, we request your voluntary cooperation in not approaching or walking under Rainbow Bridge.”

Steve Ward, our guide and captain of our houseboat, has worked on Lake Powell for 32 years. I ask him about the beliefs of the Native Americans who view Rainbow Bridge as a sacred site. He says that an Indian legend says that a small boy herding sheep here was caught in a flash flood. A rainbow appeared and turned into stone, protecting him.

Another belief states that pausing under the bridge will result in leaving behind troubles. The Indians see everything as a “window,” said Steve, and Rainbow Bridge may be one of them.

Steve said that the sign is meant to cause us to pause and think about what we are doing. He said that the sign is not a mandate to stay away, but a way for the Native Americans to ask us to think about where we are rather than blunder in as thoughtless tourists. I think hard about it.

Right or wrong, I choose to continue under the arch. My Indian friends in Montana have made a huge impression on me. I believe they would grant me permission to go, although they are of a different tribe, far from the Navajo. I go under knowing that I have a huge responsibility to not only my friends but to the people who have asked us to know what we are doing by entering the site.

Furthermore, I appreciate Native American ways. I understand the cycles of life that are so important to them. As a boy I chose to be an Indian when playing cowboys and Indians because the Indian way of life was so much more interesting to me than that of the cowboy. I believe I have always served the Indians well, even as a boy, and I will do so today. I hope to pause under the arch, and be served by big medicine. I would like to leave the last of my troubles behind.

I am one of several of our team who has made a similar choice. How the others came to their decision I cannot know. We venture past the arch and onto the Navajo Reservation where Steve hikes us to an old tourist camp. Old metal cots remain, and the foundations of small buildings are apparent throughout the spot. The beaten down remnants of a timber shack holds the only recognizable shape of a building. Overhead is a huge alcove, also filled with abandoned metal cots. A hillside spring wets a small pond through dripping moss. A monkey claw blossom dangles from the moss.

Returning back through the wooden fence that marks the reservation/Park boundary, I read another sign: “Rainbow Bridge is a unique place. It inspires awe and is sacred to many people. Please respect the rights of others to contemplate its grandeur.”
On this side of the arch we are not asked to decide whether to pass through the arch. I wonder about that. Both signs were produced by the National Park Service and not the Navajo people, and I wonder about that, too.

Passing directly under the arch, I pause. Have I done something to leave behind my troubles or have I walked under the proverbial ladder?

Our support team had shuttled our vehicles to Bullfrog, spent the night, and met us at Rainbow Bridge in a motorboat. We were together again. Our boats partner for a zippy trip back to Dangling Rope Marina where we will board our houseboat for a two-hour journey north to a beachside camp. Steve asks me to captain the houseboat for part of the journey. Navigating through the giant sandstone features was a joy.

In 1988 I captained a boat on a two-month journey from Singapore to Seattle. Behind the wheel again I began to remember some of that magical experience. Somebody slipped in a Jimmy Buffet CD, and all my troubles lifted.
for Monday, September 9
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
An experienced outdoorsman, Jan Nesset knows that everyone has to pitch in at camp
A native of Montana and the third of four children, Jan Nesset joins American...
   >> more...



List of All Journal Entries
•
Wednesday, April 28
Jan Nesset
American Frontiers: Part II: Taking Stock
   >> more...

•
Sunday, December 1
Jan Nesset
Canyonlands in December
   >> more...

•
Thursday, November 21
Jan Nesset
Snow Raspberry Bounty
   >> more...

•
Sunday, November 17
Jan Nesset
The Bisti Badlands
   >> more...

•
Friday, November 15
Jan Nesset
Public Land Flows Through It
   >> more...

•
Thursday, November 7
Jan Nesset
A Day At Earth Analytic's Home
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, October 29
Jan Nesset
Slot Canyon Adventure
   >> more...

•
Monday, October 28
Jan Nesset
Some Things Never Change
   >> more...

•
Sunday, October 27
Jan Nesset
Back To The Wave
   >> more...

•
Monday, October 7
Jan Nesset
The Thing About Summits
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 28
Jan Nesset
A New Beginning: National Public Lands Day
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 26
Jan Nesset
Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 25
Jan Nesset
History-Coated Strawberry
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 24
Jan Nesset
The Last Of It
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 23
Jan Nesset
Dinosaurlandia
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 22
Jan Nesset
Over The Edge
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 21
Jan Nesset
God Bless America
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 20
Jan Nesset
Sometimes It's A Tough Life And We Get To Do It
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 19
Jan Nesset
The Niche Near You
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 18
Jan Nesset
Snow Day
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 17
Jan Nesset
A Capitol Reef Bull's Eye
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 16
Jan Nesset
A Lucky Rift
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 15
Jan Nesset
Riding The Hog's Back
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 14
Jan Nesset
Oh Rhythm My Rhythm
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 13
Jan Nesset
Precious Images
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 12
Jan Nesset
From the Hole to the Staircase
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 11
Jan Nesset
Happy Days
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 10
Jan Nesset
Do You Believe In Magic?
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 9
Jan Nesset
The Bridge Over the River Why
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 8
Jan Nesset
Public Lands And…Not You?
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 7
Jan Nesset
That Place So Special
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 6
Jan Nesset
Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 5
Jan Nesset
Do The Wave
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 4
Jan Nesset
The Condors Are Coming!
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 3
Jan Nesset
Fires Are For The Birds
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 2
Jan Nesset
Back On Top
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 1
Jan Nesset
Perfection
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 31
Jan Nesset
The Wheels Have Left The Tarmac
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 30
Jan Nesset
Star Light
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 29
Jan Nesset
The Traditional Connection
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 28
Jan Nesset
Onward and Upward On Mountain Bikes
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 27
Jan Nesset
Checkerboard Kings and Queens
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 26
Jan Nesset
Aldo Leopold As Ranch Manager
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 25
Jan Nesset
A Story In Everything
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 24
Jan Nesset
Fire In The Whole
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 23
Jan Nesset
"Good Morning, Flagstaff!"
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 22
Jan Nesset
Hoping For The Best
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 21
Jan Nesset
Could Get Stinky
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 20
Jan Nesset
Wheels Asunder
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 19
Jan Nesset
Hurt Me, Thank You!
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 18
Jan Nesset
Roads Aplenty and Rocks of Pleasure
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 17
Jan Nesset
Of Dragons and Fire
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 16
Jan Nesset
Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 15
Jan Nesset
Puzzled
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 14
Jan Nesset
A Day Off, Sort Of
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 13
Jan Nesset
A Delightful, Light Day
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 12
Jan Nesset
Courage On Eagle Mountain
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 11
Jan Nesset
Farewell
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 10
Jan Nesset
My Aching Back In The Saddle
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 9
Jan Nesset
Back In The Saddle
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 8
Jan Nesset
In The Saddle
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 7
Jan Nesset
Shut My Mouth!
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 6
Jan Nesset
Diversity and Song
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 5
Jan Nesset
An Unraveling
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 4
Jan Nesset
A Bagged Peak
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 3
Jan Nesset
Lines On A Map
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 2
Jan Nesset
GPS-Marriage Made In Heaven
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 1
Jan Nesset
Free Wheelin'
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, July 31
Jan Nesset
An Excellent Start
   >> more...








TOP





All material copyright ©2002 - 2018, Public Lands Interpretive Association except photographs where ownership is otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.