A light blue hue lit up the massive rock formations surrounding us. It formed a striking contrast with the copper-red earth of the Grand Canyon. Layers upon layers of red and tan swirls stood out like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. I stared into an abyss of the earth’s most hidden secrets, etched into the soil of ancient colossal rocks.
It’s April and dry season. The soil looked parched, yet the red earth stood decorated in deep green flora. There’s so much life here!
But the hazy blue-purple sky draped over the canyon’s walls like a curtain, and life began to slow down. The wind zipped through the centre, singing a lullaby that hushed everything to sleep, except for the people at the top. And slowly, as the colours of the earth began to darken, I drifted away into deep thought…
This is it! This is what I couldn’t wait to feel on our drive up here. Superlatives describe it as outstanding, breathtaking and astonishing. And they are all right. This is incredible!
“The best colours show in l’heure bleue,” a young woman said as she buzzed around us. She frantically snapped photos of every angle, afraid she’ll miss something before nightfall. I came back to myself.
“The colours are beautiful,” I said to my husband. “The blue hour really does make the Grand Canyon stand out”. I looked around baffled by the amazing sight, and couldn’t wait to experience it in broad daylight.
JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER:
The next morning, we arrived at the canyon early, just after sunrise. Our time there was short. My husband and I had joined our trip to the Gand Canyon with a business trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. We were left with only half a day to explore the South Rim before heading up to Page.
But this time, a small wave of disappointment ran through me. The blue-hued sky, copper-red earth and subtle glow on the walls of the canyon were gone.
I wanted so badly for the Grand Canyon to leave another dramatic impression on me, but it didn’t.
I felt grander than the Grand Canyon itself, superficially judging it by its rim.
Without the charm of the blue hour, the Grand Canyon’s beauty made it frustrating to look at from the top. It’s vastness made it seem hollow and without personality. Additionally, my experience felt all too familiar, like a film I’ve watched for the third time.
After 15 minutes of trekking along the Rim Trail, everything began to look about the same. I’ve seen this before in pictures…
THE PULL OF THE GRAND CANYON:
Walking back to our car, my husband and I spoke of dinosaurs. We’re both aware that scientific findings show that dinosaurs probably never saw the canyon. But, I imagined that they did anyway. The Jurassic park scene was quite fitting and it made the walk back much more interesting. And then, I panicked…
How could I leave the Grand Canyon without a significant memory and powerful feeling to take home with me? I looked around, searching for something that would leave me speechless.
And there it was; a trail leading to the bottom of the canyon. I felt a strong urge to follow it. Hikers of all kinds of backgrounds and ages slowly made their way down.
I wondered; Was this urge the feeling that I was waiting for? The swirly clay-like earth was pulling me in, begging to be explored. I suddenly wanted to discover the secrets engraved on the inner walls of one of the world’s gargantuan miracles.
I envied the colony of hikers that were going to experience the canyon from the inside. But for me, time was too short. I knew I had to come back one day to do what they were doing.
I’d go back again on a day when the path down wasn’t clogged with so many hikers. Perhaps during slow season when I wouldn’t have to share my experience with everyone and their brother.
LEAVING THE GRAND CANYON’S RIM:
As I close my eyes and take myself back to the Grand Canyon, I imagine being at the bottom looking up. I imagine being enclosed by the canyon’s high walls, feeling as insignificant as a single particle of sand in a vast desert.
Looking up, I see copper-red swirls fading down into light-orange zebra stripes along a tan canvas.
I picture myself touching the barren walls, connecting with the canyon’s history that goes back millions of years from today. I crawl into an old hidden Aboriginal cave above the flowing Colorado river. There, I drift off into a deep sleep and await the morning light…
THE RIM IS JUST ITS SHELL:
I realize now that the Grand Canyon’s rim is just its shell. A large and beautiful surface. But its pearls are deep within; hidden and not easily accessible. The Grand Canyon’s uniqueness lies on the inside. Only those brave enough to reach the bottom truly know this!
Had we had more time and an overnight hiking permit, our experience would have been even more impressive.
Regardless, I’m glad that I paid the Grand Canyon a visit, especially in “l’heure bleue” when its colours are most remarkable.
All of my general expenses for this trip had been paid out of pocket. My entrance fee to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim was covered by Grand Canyon National Park.