4 de junho de 2017

O Grand Canyon e seu primeiro explorador

Em maio de 1869, John Wesley Powell (aos 35 anos de idade), veterano da guerra civil americana que perdeu um dos braços em batalha, decidiu explorar pela primeira vez o rio Colorado por inteiro, mapeando-o detalhadamente. Reuniu outros 9 homens para que remassem e ele seguiria como capitão e controlando um dos barcos pelo leme. Quatro barcos e comida para 10 meses. Powell sabia que apenas barcos poderiam levá-lo para dentro do cânion, mas não tinha certeza se estes mesmo barcos poderia tirá-lo de lá...

No primeiro mês um dos tripulantes desistiu e no terceiro mês, outros 3 desistiram. Estes últimos nunca mais foram vistos. Acredita-se que tenham sido mortos por tribos locais na tentativa de chegar a algum lugar civilizado.

Powell terminou a expedição no final de agosto do mesmo ano. Pouco mais de 3 meses para navegar as 300 milhas do rio Colorado...

Quase 150 anos depois, eu, teria suas palavras lidas pela minha líder de rafting às margens do mesmo rio. Todo dia, tínhamos inspirações como estas:

"The old prospectors say the river cannot be run. Stories are told of travelers overwhelmed in the abyss of waters... of great falls... and of underground passages into which boats had passed, never to be seen again."

"I have a party of men anxious to enter the Great Unknown with me. The current of the Green seems eager to bear us down through its mysterious canyons. We are just as eager to start, so off we go."

"June 1st... Today we have an exciting ride. The river rolls down the canyon at a wonderful rate, almost railroad speed." 

"Here and there the water rushes into a narrow gorge, and the boats go leaping and bounding over the waves like things of life."

"Maybe we shall come to a fall in these canyons which we cannot pass, where the walls rise from the water's edge so that we cannot land, and where the water is so swift that we cannot return. How will it be in the future?"

"The canyon is a Book of Revelations in the rock leaved Bible of geology. All around me are interesting records, and I can read as I run."

"What a world of grandeur is spread before us. Cathedral shaped buttes towering thousands of feet... ledges from which the gods might quarry mountains... and canyon walls that shrink the river into insignificance."

"When he who has been chained by wounds to a hospital cot until his canvas tent seems like a dungeon cell... when at last he goes out into the open field, what a world he sees!"

"We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not. The great river shrinks into insignificance as it dashes against the walls and cliffs that rise to the world above. We are but pygmies, lost among the boulders."

"All night long I pace up and down along the river. Is it wise to continue? But to leave the exploration unfinished, having almost accomplished it, is more than I can acknowledge. I determine to go on."

"Though it has been a chapter of disaster and toil, the canyons tell a story that I hear yet, and shall continue to hear."

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