Monday, September 9, 2002
Lake Powell, students, and Rainbow Bridge
The core group of Team South--the trekkers--are somewhere on Lake Powell today. The support group is at at Bullfrog Bay where Kay Gandy will give a presentation to the local school this morning. Following Kay's talk the entire support team will board a motor boat and go in search of the trekker's houseboat and proceed to Rainbow Bridge National Monument on the Navajo Reservation.
Rainbow Bridge is an incredible natural bridge with an arch of 290 feet from top to bottom (nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty), and 275 feet from side to side.
This amazing geologic formation was designated as a National Monumnet by President Taft in 1910, but did not get substantial visitation until after 1966 when the Glen Canyon Dam was opened and the waters of Lake Powell rose close enough that the bridge could be reached by boat. In 1974, the Navajo Nation filed suit to protect the sacred areas which were being damaged, disrepected, or destroyed, and eventually won recognition that their sacred places must be protected to preserve their freedom of religion. Since the 1980s, the National Park Service has educated visitors about the sacred nature of this site. Visitors are encouraged to view the bridge from the water, or from Park Service viewing area.
Five American Indian tribes/groups claim affiliation to Rainbow Bridge and surrounding areas. These are the Navajo, Hopi, San Juan Southern Paiute, Kaibab Paiute, and White Mesa Ute Council of the Ute Mountain Ute. They travel to Rainbow Bridge to pray and make offerings near and under its lofty span. Special prayers are said before passing beneath the Bridge: neglect to say appropriate prayers might bring misfortune or hardship. For this reason, casual visitors are prevented from walking under the bridge.
If you look at the map, you'll see that Bullfrog Bay is a long way from anywhere. "Anywhere" in this case means Hanksville, Page, or Blanding, wonderful small towns in their own right but still only waystops along the highway to the real "Anywhere" or the big cities of the region.
But for now, Team South is happy to have a few relaxing days, trying their hand at fishing for striped bass and exploring the beaches and side canyons of the lake.