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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Canyon Crossing

By Kristy McCaffrey

Last month Prairie Rose Publications celebrated ‘Christmas in July’ with a collection of short story releases. Included in this promotion was my tale, Canyon Crossing.

The idea for the story came from a hike I took in the Grand Canyon a few years ago with my husband and my dad. Grandview Trail, from the South Rim, is an access route from the rim to the Colorado River that’s been in use since 1890 when miner Pete Berry began working the Last Chance Mine. Before that, Hopi Indians gathered mineral paints in the area (Horseshoe Mesa) long before Berry arrived, creating early pathways.

The view from Grandview Trail.

Day hiking in Grand Canyon doesn’t require a permit, so on a chilly morning in March we set out to descend and climb back out before the sun set. Grandview Trail isn’t a beginner’s hike: the uppermost sections are steep, grueling switchbacks, and because long stretches were covered with ice and snow, very dangerous. One slip could easily lead to a plunge over the side. So, having my heroine tumble into the canyon was very realistic.

Me on one of the more precarious passages.

We spent three hours dropping 2500 feet in elevation. The scenery was breathtaking and I was amazed at the sheer cliffs we descended. We were forced to cling to the rocks like mountain goats in some parts, aided by micro-spikes attached to our hiking boots to tackle the icy patches.

My husband.

We made it as far as Horseshoe Mesa, a total of 3.2 miles. Several old copper mines are located in the area and the paths are fairly well-marked, along with signs warning of radiation. (Excessive amounts of radon are present.) We had hoped to continue out onto the Mesa and enjoy a view of the Colorado River, but were forced to turn around and head back to the top so we wouldn’t get caught on the trail after dark.

My dad and I close to Horseshoe Mesa.
A section of the trail.

Some of the trail was on rock.

In search of her brother, Annabel Cross enters Grand Canyon with a guide and a mule. When circumstances have her hanging from a cliff side, her rescue at the hands of U.S. Deputy Marshal Angus Docherty is fortuitous in more ways than one. He’s chasing the notorious Red Bandit, and it soon becomes clear that Annabel’s brother is mixed up with the criminal as well. While the marshal believes she may be in on a double-cross, she has a more pressing secret to hide. She can talk to deceased spirits, and she wonders whether to tell Angus about the old Apache ever near to him.

(This story previously appeared in the LASSOING A GROOM anthology.)

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  1. I'm still in awe of you making that trek. Isn't it interesting how events in our own lives can lead to such flights of story. I really enjoyed this one, and the unique elements you included. Doris/Angela

    1. Thanks Doris! Looking back, I'm in awe of the hike as well. I just wish we could've gone farther but to do that would have required camping overnight. To do that, you need a permit from the park service. I must return!! And maybe I'll get another story out of it. :-)

    2. I would love another story! Doris/Angela

  2. Kristy,

    I always enjoy your stories of visiting the Grand Canyon. It's a place I've never seen (except from an airplane at a ridiculous height - lol), but my parents rode the mules to the bottom, twice, and I've enjoyed their stories, too. And, I'm with Doris wholeheartedly... more...we need more stories. *grin*

    1. The Grand Canyon from the air is fantastic too. Your parents were very adventurous Kaye! One of these days, you'll have to visit. Maybe we could collaborate on a story. :-)

  3. Kristy,

    Collaborate? What a confidence-booster your comment is to my writing ego. *grin* I'm just a little in awe of writers who have collaborated on a work. I imagine it takes a great deal of cooperation, patience, and compromise to get to a finished product.