Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Yuba Gap Take 1 (With the Moss and the Worms)
In the middle of the night I woke up with my nose running. Allergies, I hoped. In the morning I made calls to find someone to help us with shuttle for the Yuba Gap. It was convoluted. Shawn was to drive a leg of it, then Karen. Times were ambiguous. Scott needed to sell a car in Coloma.
My nose got worse. My head throbbed and it hurt to open my eyes. I called it off. We went to Nevada City and slept in my bed late into the next morning.
We hiked up the South Yuba trail from Purdon Crossing until we found a narrow, steep trail veering down the hill to the water. It was marked with a small blue lantern hanging from a branch. Long-term camps are set up along the river’s edge. Tibetan peace flags stretch between trees. Cairns dot the banks. Sheets and tapestries become fluttering summer walls. Smoke tendrils wind their way over them through the branches and into the sky, evidence of the people tucked into rock dwellings, although we rarely saw anyone.
I took my shirt off to cross the river in a deep green pool. I kept it off as we walked along the bank and it felt good. I never knew the name of the last rapid between Edwards to Purdon before it turns into busy water. I still don’t, but now the name would have no meaning. We dropped our packs at the bottom of the rapid, spread our wet clothes on the rocks and swam, with the current, against the current and across it, watching the rocks as we glide over them. It’s weightless like flight. We crouched in a warm water-filled granite basin until we found our bodies smattered with small black wriggling worms. We fled back into the current clinging to rocks as the water pulled its way past our bodies to rip away the worms.
We sit in the shade of boulders and eat our deli-bought sandwiches by the river. While paying for them, I had asked a woman who was ordering a sandwich at the other counter to sing a Barry White song. She did. She had a nice voice, although it was nothing like Barry White’s. Scott complained that I smelled like mustard.
Scott stretched out on the rocks and napped. I strode naked aside for my Chacos strapped to my feet through the once-rapid to take photos. Time means nothing. Mosquitoes caught in a web under a rock spread wings of iridescent rainbows. Small beards of green moss in the spaces between rocks are like fluid stalactites. They stop time. He wakes up as I come back. We swim. I take photos. He takes photos. We spread ourselves on warm granite. We curl into each other. The shadows change angles and the canyon swallows the light. I felt as if we were hundreds of miles from anyone instead of only a river bend away. I felt as if we had been there since the beginning of time with the moss and the worms. I felt like we would be there always stuck in the rocks with the fossilized crinoids. I felt perfect.