Part 2 of this year’s Roadtrip takes us to the Grand Canyon. I had been there once before , but this journey would be different. My friend Mark and I would hike all the way to the bottom of the Colorado River, spend the night there in cabins at Phantom Ranch, and then make the long climb up the following day. The classic route is a steep 8 mile hike down, and a slightly longer, and slightly more gradual 10 mile slog back up.
For much of the 19th century, very little was known of this stretch of the Colorado River. Typically on maps this area was simply labeled “Unknown”And then in 1869, this gentleman, the one-armed John Wesley Powell, led a band of 10 men on an extraordinary journey down through the Colorado and the canyon, the first Europeans to see it. (I see 2 arms?)
So, here we were. It didn’t take a great leap to look at the trip as a metaphor of sorts; a map of my life would probably have me currently navigating a region that could be labeled “unknown”. Like the River and Canyon, these last 18 months have held plenty of strange new realities, navigating this new world of employment and opportunity is sometimes treacherous, definitely unpredictable, with the bends and twists not allowing one much opportunity to plan ahead. Currently, I have been waiting to hear on a job, I have been on pins and needles for a while, I even wondered if I should go away (what if they call tomorrow ?). Well, I took the trip and came back, and I am still waiting; maybe the canyon ends around the next bend, maybe this is the week…………not yet…….maybe next.?
Some visitors will occasionally opine that they were slightly disappointed with the Canyon, after all the build up, just one more spectacular desert vista. I think one of the reasons for that is that it’s impossible to take in the full depth of the canyon from the primary viewing points, you can only see down about halfway, the river lies much deeper, mysterious and out of sight. Speaking of the visitors, there seemed to be 3 types at the canyon, those that stop off and peer down into the canyon, those that attempt to hike down a some distance and back, and those headed to the bottom; and part of the trip’s interest (or bane) is the mixing with all three groups. Like the vivid strata that marks your descent in geological time, so to, particularly upon return, we would see the same strata in the people. So, on a beautiful Friday morning, we headed down the canyon, and this was the view: