City Girl Gone Wandering
In a life of travel time eradicates itself of all meaning. Seasons cease to exist. Winter comes in summer, and summer in winter. It is possible to jump from spring to fall in a matter of weeks, even days. On the road, the concept of time disappears into the ether and pops up to surprise you at every turn. But, at the Grand Canyon, time is palpable.
I had often imagined the drive to the canyon as one that crept by a series of rock cliffs that consistently grew redder. Instead, the road climbs upward into the mountains, rushing past glorious green forests that give way to vast, sprawling meadows. In the park, the sights and scents are the same: sprawling trees and the smell of pine. No canyon to be found.
But, behind the trees and down a series of paved pathways, the Grand Canyon awaits. The sight is humbling in its magnitude–a colossal canyon, painted in hues of red and gray, that seems to hold within it the entirety of the world’s silence.
Away from the canyon’s rim I found myself in a strange little mountain town masquerading as a national park. The South Rim has multiple housing facilities, a few cafes, a grocery store, and even a public transit system to shuttle people around. It is a fully-functioning town tucked away in the forest.
Like many towns, there is also a cemetery. This is where they bury park rangers and employees who have spent their lives devoted to the maintenance of the park. It was interesting to see the varying types of people who had given their lives to this space, and who had chosen to stay there even in their death.
At sunset my friend and I made our way further into the park and watched as the colors in the sky shifted and swayed above us. The rocks grew redder the deeper we went and at Hopi Point we stumbled upon an incredible vista. Beneath us, the Colorado River flowed steadily at the bottom of the canyon. It seemed so small, so still. But we knew that that tiny spec of river was the might behind the creation of this sweeping canyon.
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon is like walking a bridge between worlds. With one glance you unearth the story of the world’s history. A story that is physically visible in the pageantry of the rock—calling itself out to you through the varying pigments and layers that water has eroded into and exposed to the eye.
What can truly be said of a space so vast, so daunting, that it can only be labeled as “grand”? On the edge of its rim, I finally understood the true meaning of its name. The Grand Canyon is called so not because of the sheer power of its size. Rather, it is grand in its strength and solitude–in its ability to be steady and constant in the face of everlasting change.