Time stands still in this immense sanctuary of stone
BOSTON — Solemn. Awesome. Majestic.
Sculpted by the mighty Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is a powerful presence. Immense cathedral-like walls that continue mile after mile are somehow calming. The canyon can be a healer, a sanctuary from the outside world.
Nature constructed these walls over millennia. Earthquakes and volcanoes renovated them. Oceans came and went. Tapeats sandstone, Vishnu schist, Hermit shale, Kaibab, these geological formations tell the story of the earth's creation, and leave the humbled viewer with a perspective that measures time in billions of years instead of days, weeks, or months.
It is a land of contrasts - light and shadow, cold water and hot air, the roar of rapids followed by the gentle hum of the river with birds calling from above. Dawn and dusk paint the rocks, river, and clouds in rose, gold, and fire.
Change comes slowly unless you're talking about the rush of floodwater through a side canyon that gathers in an instant, rearranging boulders, trees, and earth.
The Colorado is a cold ribbon emerging from the icy depths of the Glen Canyon Dam, washed brown from the runoff of these side canyons, flowing through the unending rock walls with a narrow strip of blue sky for a ceiling.
The land is gritty, prickly, and tough. Survival of plant and animal life is a daily struggle.
Harsh exteriors guard fragile life. Cactuses cling to rocks. Big horn sheep run over crumbling stones at unimaginable angles. Everything reflects the harsh desert climate: sparse rainfall, short food supply, plentiful sunshine.
A glance over the edge only hints at what lies below. To learn the canyon's secrets, you must live for a time inside its walls. If you do, the stillness stays with you. Instead of feeling diminished, visitors to this immense landscape leave enriched, empowered by its knowledge of survival.