The Grand Canyon is a great place to reflect, hope, wish, and wonder. If you are fortunate enough to see it from the Colorado river you will not be disappointed. My recent trip took me on a 10.9 mile hike into the canyon. This began my 137 mile rafting trip down its rapids, camping in hidden coves and canyons each night. Hikes into these canyons occurred at each stop. From Conquistador Aisle to Blacktail Canyon trail, my heart was filled to nearly unexplainable levels.
I originally embarked on my raft from the Phantom Ranch at Boat Beach. Here I met my crew and the team of fellow boaters which numbered 21. My hike into the canyon consisted of 10 others.
The hike into the Grand Canyon began at 5:30 am, after a night in one of the historical lodges at Grand Canyon Village. At 52 degrees and a 30 knot northerly wind, I descended into one of the 7 Natural wonders of the world. My heart was full at this point. And overflowing upon my departure 5 days later. I passed Havasupai Gardens, Indian wells, various springs filled with Cottonwood, and Ash trees. They flourished in the mineral rich springs which flowed gleefully from the canyon’s orifices throughout the area, just as they had for millions of years. I passed several different eco systems and rock formations and abundant plant life. Vigor and awe overshadowed my mind as my decent continued. It grew with every single turn and switchback. The 4,700’ drop into the canyon became one of the most exciting trips of my life. Although I had been to the GC many times before, I had never spent more than 1 day in it. Until now.
The Grand Canyon in April is vibrant and filled with blossoms and migratory birds. This trip was extra special due to the abundance of snow fall in the north side of the canyon. Another reason was due to an on-staff Botanist, Nancy Brian being present. She only comes to the Canyon a few times a year and it was as if the stars and planets lined up perfectly for us. She was to be with us for the entire trip. Her knowledge is vast. And all present benefitted. She was a font of knowledge who knew so much about the overall life, geology and native species in the canyon. As a bonus to her knowledge and presence she enlightened us about the history of the canyon too. I kept her at arm’s length for the entire 5-day trip and learned about the canyon.
Each day I was greeted with Spires of Granite great buttes, and columns of formations rare to any other place on earth. The entire canyon had deep reds, browns, and many other tonal shades. Wild spectrums of earth tones were present at every turn. Schists and Lava were present throughout too. Some schists had many smooth surfaces with beveled nooks and crannies. Many of them invoked touching and exploring. I wanted to be faced to face with as much as possible. So, I did.
Daily rapids on the river were running at one of the highest capacity’s ever experienced since being dammed. The river normally runs at 12,000 CFS (Cubic Feet per Second). This trip I was greeted with a swift and fast flowing river which flowed at a continuous 39,500 CFS. The rip-roaring Colorado River gave up many secrets but kept many. And I was on it to discover as many of them as I could. I felt as though it was a treasure just to be on the river. The river was not its standard emerald, green tones however it was its normal 50 degrees. The splashes in the rapids caused goosebumps and some numbness on occasion. This was no match for goosebumps on my heart.
Each night the stars were limited, but only until the vast moonlight hid behind the canyon walls. Once the moon made its way past the horizon the sky opened completely. The moonless night sky was gracious as it gave up its secrets. This occurred after 1:30a. I was able to pick out satellites, star clusters and constellations with my SkyView App. I followed many clusters including Libra, Cancer, and the Big Dipper each night. And I was able to film the movements of many of them via the long exposure feature on my camera. The universe seemed to reveal more and more each night. The Milky Way had made an impression on me years ago for a few brief minutes. This time it greeted me every time I opened my eyes during the night. I saw more stars on this trip than I had ever known in my 58 years combined. Shooting stars seemed to blast by every few minutes. While some were brief, others stretched across the entire horizon. Satellites seemed to travel across the sky every 10-15 minutes. On night 3, I saw the ISS pass by. Its pass was brief due to the curvature of the earth and only present for about 20 degrees of view directly above me. It quickly faded. Each night I slept facing east to wake facing the rising sun.
Some views in the canyon allowed my imagination to see items that I was sure had inspired folklore throughout the ages. My treasure had been found. Many other treasures were out there too. Many times, I wished for each of my friends to be at this very place, at this very moment to experience what I was being given. Clearly, I was in a place where legends were born. Stories had been written throughout the ages in this very place. I am sure that I am a better person for being here.
All the canyons’ walls, animals, and its shadows spoke to me. Without a single sound, I heard it all and still want more.
I saw Reflections of Powell from the moment I stepped into the canyon until the moment I stepped out of it at Diamond Creek. Surely, I will digest this journey and its grand experience in its entirety. The wonder it created inside will continue for the rest of my days.