Roncalli High School
THE End Senior Portfolio Joe Warner
College Essay: The Cross Canyon Hike
I woke up to the sounds of two people talking extremely fast and who seemed to be in a great hurry. I rolled over in my tent wondering why these obnoxious people were talking so early in the morning. Slowly I begin to remember that I too, should be up at this dismal hour. Why? I thought in my head. Why should I be up? The memory surged back into my head. I had to get up for the Cross Canyon hike. The cross canyon hike was offered by to us the night before. So in a decision of not wanting to regret my life choices in twenty years, I agreed to go. At around five o’clock it was to begin, we had to be ready by four forty five. My peers who I had been judging only minutes ago, I was now praising them for waking me up, for it was four forty four. I rushed, throwing any thing I thought I would need into a bag and ran to the vans waiting to take us to the canyon entrance. We arrived. We began. This beginning piece was the easiest part of the hike, but required an enormous amount of effort from a seventeen year old who ten minutes prior was dreaming of cupcakes. I look down at the steep angle that continued for seven miles towards the center of the earth. An hour into the hike we were nearly half way down and that is when the sun rose. I am not one for sentimental moments, but this was a wonderful sunrise. A morning dawn that scorched the rocks red and lit the great valley below with indescribable beauty and grandeur. This was a relaxing few minutes. The sun gave motivation to continue onward all the way down to the valley I saw below. An hour after that sunrise I, and my group, reached the bottom of the canyon. This was almost like a tropical jungle. This small section had streams, birds were chirping, and huge trees surrounding us. There the hike truly began. We trekked out of this quasi jungle and through awe inspiring paths that included water falls and then the surging Colorado River. I wanted nothing
more than to jump into its cool water, but before I reached it, I was called back by my group leader. This period of time was quite enjoyable; however, it was only hiding the true challenge that lay ahead. After crossing the river we began hiking what would soon be called the “Valley of Death”. The valley of death had no shade, no water, and offered no hope. What It did have, in abundant, was heat. That forsaken heat nearly killed me. It was made worse because I was now sore from the first half of the hike, and a four hour break. During this break I ate most of my food. The final part of the hike was the eight mile, uphill battle towards the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. As the sun began to set I, and a few others, was still miles away from camp site just out side of the canyon. My stomach began to growl, and my throat begged for water, I had neither. The Grand Canyon path is carved as switch backs, which go side to side in an attempt to control how steep the climb becomes. This is good physically, but mentally it causes severe frustration and dare I say mild depression, for there is no clear sight of the end, only endless switchbacks that tease at the end of a trip at each turn. With only four miles left until the top I was with out energy, mentally and physically, I was done. This was beyond description as pain and fatigue are all that can be retained in the annals of my memory. Step after stumbling step I slowly climbed the side of the canyon. The sun was now fully set, and the dark brought cold. I had dressed warm in the morning but had stripped most of my clothing off; those articles were now returned to my body. With help from others I did one or two switch backs at a time, and then rested for five minutes. As I was about to give up, give in, shut down, I saw a light. For a split second I thought it was at the end of a tunnel, but I soon realized it was two car lights; welcoming us to the campsite. I crawled into the warmed van and nearly
fell asleep. After some food and drink I slid sorely into my sleeping bag. I was asleep before I could zip the bag up. I maintain that the Grand Canyon is one the greatest experiences of my life.
Chaucer Character Essay: [Title]
Beowulf Compare and Contrast: Grendel As a Villain
A villain is the most important aspect in a story; this is because a villain must be a true challenge to the protagonist and create tensions in the story. Grendel, the first villain to be written in English in the epic poem Beowulf, is a great precedent for all villains to follow. This statement is not true to John Gardner, the author of Grendel, a sympathetic tale about the motives Grendel maintained while attacking the Normans of the story. Grendel is portrayed drastically differently in the two stories in very key areas. The main differences reside in Grendel’s ancestry, motives, and tactics used to attack his victims. In the epic Beowulf, Grendel is a fiend and a monster. He was “… spawned in that slime… of Cane, murderous creatures banished by God…” (24), and was exiled. He had claws and was intelligent, enjoyed murdering and devouring all those he could digest. Fighting made him happy and killing was what his kind was infamous for doing. Grendel was in the same cursed family as the “… fiends, goblins, monsters, giants…” and was cursed by god. In the epic poem Beowulf Grandel’s motives are very simple, the Normans are happy. Grendel was cast of into the caves and lives in his own personal hell, this is because as a spawn of Cane he was forever cursed by God and exiled. Grendel heard the Norman’s “…harps rejoicing…” and became infuriated. His motives were that of bitterness, anger, and the fact that he was a monster condemned by God wishing to destroy man. In Grendel he has a much more specific, less mythical, reasons. Such as the wars the Anglo Saxons continued to fight with out remorse, and the song they gleefully sung for the
battles of old. He was angered by the murder, destruction, and “…fire and acrid smoke…” (G34) the Normans brought with them. He hated their worrier code, which was their honor system of the time period. He also regretted his attacks against the people and did not wish to continue the gruesome attacks. The tactics displayed by Grendel in the poem Beowulf was again a supremely simple strategy. Each night Grendel would wait until the soldier men, and women, and children were sleeping, then attack, eat, and destroy all the life his “greedy claws”(24) could obtain. He placed a curse on the swords the Normans possessed that would dull the blades, effectively making Grendel invincible to the common warrior. Grendel simply over powered the Normans and when faced with a stronger combatant then him, Beowulf, his power escapes him, and he is defeated. Grendel portrays Grendel’s vicious raids as almost a recon mission. He hides in the shadows and listens to what the AngloSaxons discuss and what was their entertainment. He laughs and scoffs at their beliefs and costumes, feeling they are inferior to his superior intellect. His actual attacks still echo those of Beowulf, but were stronger and fiercer than the poem’s battles were portrayed. The two versions of Grendel are very different, yet are both true to each other, in that he murders and is eventually defeated by Beowulf, a great Norman worrier. In the epic poem Beowulf it shows a demon attacking the faithful followers of God and how God will defeat evil, this making Grendel much more of a metaphor than a character. The sympathetic, new version of Grendel, presented in the excerpt of Grendel is a great exposé into the motives of a killer and fully shows that there are two sides to every story. With both versions of the story showing the perils of greed, war, and excess pride, they are great examples of living a good life.