With the car loaded, we set out from LA to hit as many of the stunningly beautiful places in the Southwest as we could. Some places I had been to years and year before, others I had only ever read about or seen photos of. We would spend most of the trip chasing the storms or getting ahead of them. In this case, our first stop for the night was the Grand Canyon and we arrived in the middle of the storm.
Between stuffing the camera in my jacket to keep it dry and keeping Lexi out of the truly muddy mud puddles we, and a few other hardy souls, watched the sun peek out just moments before disappearing below the horizon. Even through the rain,the sky lit up like molten lava for a few seconds and reminded me that sometimes you never know when you’ll be in the right place at the right time.
With a small break in the storm, we headed over and set up camp, and point out the Elk butts poking out of the brush along the road. I know, very touristy. But what can I say? You never see Elk butts in LA!
The night (and the nights to come) was filled with failed attempts to get the BioStove started and a cold dinner. I should have taken this for a sign of things to come…for they did come. Instead, I learned some valuable lessons. Such as you should always take your own, highly reliable, gear with you. Your tried and true MSR stove that has never failed to boil water even on the coldest of nights. Your tent that has stood up to the elements and while a too heavy for long distance back country hiking is perfect for car camping or short hikes into the woods. And I’ll stop here or else I will give away too much of the night that was ahead of us.
The rain came back that night and it came back in fun force. The kind of rain that apparently floods some tents. Unfortunately, I was in such a tent. But there is a bit of a silver lining to the night for my sleeping bag remained dry and I cuddled with Lexi to keep her out of the wet as much as possible. The other party in the tent did not fare so well and I will never let them live this down. Nor will I ever trust them in supplying any adventures in the future. I learned my lesson the cold and wet way.
Thanks to damp that was creeping in from all sides, I was more than happy to jump out of the tent and get to some of the overlooks. Hello Sunrise!!!
For all my complaining, I have to say, I don’t think there’s anything in life more amazing than a good ol’ fashioned sunrise to make you count your blessings. I mean, does life get better than this?
As the minutes ticked by and the sun rose higher and higher in the sky the canyon was flooded with light. The contrast between the verdant green and the red of the sandstone almost make you forget that you were in what many call a desert. Coming from drought ridden California this was a salve to my poor dry and withered soul. To watch clouds float on by you as though they had not a care in the world lazily taking in the grandeur of one of the most remarkable areas in America like it’s another day. There in no rush and as they travel their shapes change as though they are taking in the air and releasing it just as we do and just as the Elk from the night before.
What we call the Grand Canyon is called Ongtupqa by the Hopi, Wi:ka’i:la by the Yavapai, Tsékooh Hatsoh by the Navajo, and Gran Cañón by the Spanish and has for thousands of years been home to Native Americans. The Pueblo people make pilgrimages to it as they consider it to be a holy place and I cannot disagree. There is something truly special about about this 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep canyon that was carved by the mighty Colorado River.
The first known European to have viewed the Grand Canyon was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540. It would be more than a few more centuries before American exploration of the area really began and it wouldn’t be until 1871 that John Wesley Powell would use the term “Grand Canyon”. Apparently, people liked it.
The history of the Grand Canyon and it’s inhabitants along with the surrounding areas, is not a short history for it takes millennia for rivers to carve such astounding places from stone.Even though it was designated a national park in 1919 there are still battles being waged in courts about land use, air pollution, and more. The Glen Canyon Dam that was constructed in 1963 has dramatically changed the eco system of the area. The effects are still being felt.
I could attempt to wax poetically about this place and about how, if you’ve never been here, you need to see it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Instead, I will simply say that there’s something about the desert that works its way under your skin. It’s a place that I plan on going back to. I’ve like to hike Rim to Rim, raft the Colorado, and maybe even a mule ride. There’s still so much to explore.
Have any of you been? What did you think?
Hope to see you out there!