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The Grand Canyon

“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country – to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.

Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.”

–from the speech which President Roosevelt made at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, on May 6, 1903

A quick peak into the Grand Canyon from Mather Point on that first evening waiting for the solar eclipse to start provided me with a just a hint of the wonders that I would get to explore. And, thankfully the wonders Roosevelt protected for all to enjoy.

Like many, my first utterance was “Oh my God”. Or, as I texted my daughters M & K – an “OMG” moment – with a note that I hoped they would get here someday too!

I wasn’t the only one uttering OMG – it was a veritable United Nations –

Oh mon dieu (French) ; Oh mio dio (Italian); Åh min gud (Danish); 何てこと (Japanese); О мой Бог (Russian); Oh mein Code (German)

Folks had come from all over the world to see this amazing place.

Simply put, the Grand Canyon isn’t just spectacular – it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world along with Mount Everest, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the others – it’s why over 4 million visitors arrive from all over the world every year.

The spectacular goes from rim to rim; rim to river – the canyon walls reach about 5,000 feet below the rim to the river. Landforms here are beautifully sculpted by erosion and many bear remarkable names – Horseshoe Mesa, Vishnu Temple, Wotan’s Throne, or Isis Temple, and the list goes on – Cheops Pyramid, Budda Temple, Solomon Temple, Jupiter Temple and Tower of Ra – all of these are major buttes, spires or mesas in the canyon – someone had an imagination that’s for sure!

Maybe the reason we all uttered “oh my God” was due to the fact that words seem inadequate to describe the scene. I know my words will fail to adequately describe it; my images will fall short of sharing the grandeur of the place.

I am not alone:

“I shall not attempt to describe it, because I cannot. I could not choose words that would convey or, could convey to any outsider what the canyon is.”

–from the speech which President Roosevelt made at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, on May 6, 1903

“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.”

–John Wesley Powell, the Grand Canyon explorer

And speaking of images of the Grand Canyon, the Arizona Highways Photography Guidebook describes the challenge this way:

“…the beauty, the grandeur, the adventure, the sheer size and complexity of the Canyon…the serious photographer’s efforts will be judged against that of an army of other photographers, so ordinarily solid photographs are, to be blunt, inadequate”

But I love a challenge. I also loved the remarkable scale and beauty of the place. I came to appreciate this very special place in a way I didn’t expect. So much so that I extended my stay 2 times for a total of 12 days – and, why not – I was at Ten-X Campground – four miles to the entrance of the park – in a site surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pines and soaring oaks – a great base to explore the canyon.

And, every day offered up new surprises; offered new vistas to photograph. Fact is, it changed and surprised me moment by moment- and, here too, I was not alone:

“It is never the same, even from day to day. Or even from hour to hour…Every passing cloud, every change in the position of the sun, recasts the whole.”

–Clarence Dutton, US Geological Survey, 1882

“The sharply defined colours of the different layers of rock had merged and softened, as the sun dropped from sight; purple shadows crept into the cavernous depths, while shafts of gold shot to the very tip top of the peaks, or they threw their shadows like silhouettes on the wall beyond. The scene shifted again.”

–Ellsworth Kolb, 1914, Grand Canyon Photographer

Speaking of colors – simply incredible!! The vivid colors in the scene are mainly due to trace amounts of various minerals – imparting hues of red, yellow, and green to the canyon walls – simply amazing!!

Even with 12 days I barely scratched the surface – one longtime Canyon supporter said, when asked how long to know the Canyon – “…a lifetime…”

Even with all the miles I hiked on or below the rim I know now I will need to return one day. The Grand Canyon is thought of as a play in 3 parts: Rim, Inner Canyon, and River. I barely got to know the Rim; only ventured a few miles into the Inner Canyon; and, the River goes on my “bucket list” – will need to return to float it one day!

I will have more to share about the Canyon in another post but that’s enough for now…

Safe travels…see you down the road

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. I never tire of looking at the canyon. Too bad you didn’t make it to the North Rim, the mellow side of the canyon.

    July 2, 2012
    • Stephen #

      thanks for taking the time to check out the images and commenting – much appreciated. You and others have all recommended the North Rim – another reason to go back again 🙂

      July 2, 2012
  2. Jim Walker #

    So glad your back online. Great images. I love your stories, too.

    July 2, 2012
    • Stephen #

      thanks for the note – hard to believe so any days got away from me without a post – glad you liked the images – appreciate the feedback – GC is an amazing place

      July 2, 2012
  3. Jeff Leonhardt #

    Stephen, Thanks for the tip about West Fork Trail fantastic day hiking!

    As Suzanne told you Vicky and I just left the Grand Canyon and I love your perspective, I felt the same way the first time and now again for the third time!

    Regarding international tourist you stated a much lower percentage than what we experienced. I bet as Americans were the minority and I am not referring to Elk! Asians, Spanish, Germans, Canadians, Russians etc. a beutiful blend of friendly folks.

    October 30, 2012
    • Stephen #

      glad you found West Fork – i wasn’t sure I would find my notes on the visit – glad it worked out

      I am jealous – 3 times to the GC – I definitely want to return – so much to see. happy to hear you had a great visit. safe travels

      October 30, 2012

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