What’s up? I’m just over here sitting on a Wonder of the World. CASUAL.
Currently writing this from the back porch of the hostel, where many other travelers have gathered to eat their toast, salute the sun, and light their morning cigarettes. I actually don’t understand smoking at this altitude, much less breathing? My lungs have been shocked by my sudden transition to a 7,000 ft lifestyle and are working through their feelings of betrayal.
Sooo yes, I experienced the ultimate nature yesterday! The Lord’s Pensieve, aka The Grand Canyon! It was a craymazing day, and it lasted an absolutely insane 11 hours.
I’d originally planned to do the whole trek/visitor’s center thing on my own, but the hostel offered an all-inclusive tour and I thought, “Maybe someone experienced in the outdoor arts should guide my survival.” Plus I’ve met a lot of really nice people here already and welcomed the opportunity to share the view with someone new. My group ended up being comprised of Patricia (a Colombian agronomist who’d never tasted a Frappuccino), Annie (a social psychologist with great leg stamina), Dan (a British adventurer who’d been traveling around the world for 15 months), and our leader Dylan (who had flawless taste in bluegrass and knew everything about all the plants). Everyone was good-natured about my “getting stranded in the canyon and having to build a society” or “Which of us would win the Hunger Games” comments. Probably because I was most expendable.
After we drove through the Painted Desert and peeped a little bit of the vast Navajo reservation, we pulled up at the Little Colorado River Canyon, which Dylan kept calling “the tiny one.” Having not beheld the GC yet, I was already overwhelmed by its baby brother. It’s a deep, majestic crack through the earth. Vultures swooped around us in the shimmery heat as our guide casually explained that rescuers have to “leave the bodies down there.” Took a teetering selfie anyway.
After that, we headed to the Desert View Watchtower, stunning tribute to Hopi history. I had no idea about the tense historical relations between the Hopi and Navajo (Navajo means “skull crusher” in Hopi?!) and found the monument/artwork absolutely incredible. There’s something about touching a chair someone made in 1870 that feels even more sacred and timebendy than touching some frillion-year-old igneous rock.
The watchtower was visible from almost every point we traveled to around the Canyon rim – well, the .0006% of the rim we were able to cover, because the entire thing is almost 800 miles around and we’re only human beings, damn it. We drank in views from Lipan Point (hazy and verdant), Moran Point (mostly grey) and the Grand View, which is the classic postcard view with all the spikes, peaks, red rock cliffs and valleys. It was actually kind of an overcast day, which worked in our favor. Less sun (fucking finally, said my skin) and a greater and more subtle variety of colors in the Canyon. We also hit some Hopi ruins, preserved since the 1100s, and ate lunch right next to them. Conversation topics included the shady economy of the Grand Canyon tourist industrial complex and Harry Potter fanfiction (which, UNBELIEVABLY, I didn’t even bring up first). Such a wonderful band of misfits with lots of experiences to trade amongst us.
One of our last activities was a hike down (and up) the Kaibab Trail, which ended up both killing my body and yielding some choice photos. It was kind of mind-melting to actually descend into the Canyon, even for a couple of miles, and watch the sharp cliffs rise up and up around us. Also, we walked past a kid who was running, guardian-less, without shoes on. Ghost? Maybe. Probably. Another body the rescuers were too lazy to grab.
Once we’d clambered out again, Dylan took us to a small store and we each grabbed some libations for an epic sunset-watching session. Dan taught me about the heady concoction of beer, hard cider, blackcurrant juice, and vodka…I will never understand why the British do what they do, but it sounded pretty tasty. Patricia tried her first IPA and deemed it “spicy.”
Our walk down to the final vista was incredible and relaxing and chill as hell: just strolling along the lip of pure wonder, sipping cold brews, basking. It was one of those extended moments when my vibrations of neuroses start to mercifully get slower, and then stop, and then I just feel lucky and good. We plopped ourselves down on an outcropping over the edge of the world and watched the day end.
Absolutely ridiculous. I think I’m going to start a cult around the hoax of the Grand Canyon, because I suspect it’s a green screen. It really doesn’t seem real; it’s a vastness my brain has trouble processing, and it’s QUIET, quiet like nature is concentrating. That sunset was honestly unreal. On the drive home, we stopped in the darkness to check out a clear night of frosty stars, and I was like, enough already. I don’t deserve this beauty. We listened to “Moonlight Mile” as we navigated the long dark and it was perfection.
Pictures below – I edited down as much as I could, and there are still many.
And that is that for the Canyon Grande! About to pack up my stuff and get on the road to the great red arches of Moab and the smallville goodness of Grand Junction, CO…where I am staying with a lavender farmer. Yus.