Here it’s just called, The Canyon, like there is no other. It’s a place we go to get away from, or get into, it. It’s a place that still lets us trust each other’s word, and have plans on when we should be back. For those waiting on The Canyon, we practice patience and balance with our expectations.
For those of us in The Canyon though, we have entered a different, older world. Out here, once up and away from the road, we find what keeps us out late, what drives us home early, and why we go back.
Free from the paved groan, the threshold is passed, and the stories are all in front of us now. We hike old trails, finding new turns, flowers, and shades. We scout new paths blazed by others, leading to timeless vistas, stands, and grounds. We hear strange ancient birds. We smell new familiar fires. We taste life’s grit.
The repetition is not the kind that gets old, going out and discovering; getting dirty, thirsty, hungry, bit up, rained on, or suddenly freezing mid-stride when you hear a branch snap in the wood aside from you and you like that you still have some of that good instinct left, especially in this age.
The Canyon as we know it though did not begin as it now is, nor will remain. In its long winding life thus far, The Canyon has been sculpted by water, want, and what some call westward expansion.
For some of us, we know the story like it was passed down every winter. For others, we quickly learn that it’s worth the stillness.
Trees now grow on what was once an oceanic graveyard: the floor of a great sea. The very stone and rock that lifts dramatically upwards is an elaborate crosscut in geologic history taking place over millions of years. We find deposits of shells, fish, and other oddities as we ascend The Canyon, travelling through time as if in some wonder of which all museums aspire to be.
On and into this grand mountainous slab came Guinavah, The River. The Canyon’s deep V-shape has been carved from Guinavah flowing water over the forgotten seabed once more, finely eroding a channel through, giving The Canyon it’s great bends; perfect for catching an eddied trout or fleeing a pesky cell signal.
The River has been essential for humans as well for thousands of years. When the valley was settled, this time by Easterners in the mid-19th century, Guinavah became known to these settlers eventually as Logan River.
Historically, these lush environs once donned The Canyon’s many great iconic mammals, but the iconic do not easily survive in the limelight. 100 years after Eastern settlement, the once-abundant bison, bighorn sheep, and brown bears were gone. To mark their absence, we have Ephraim’s grave and the imagination.
This said, there is certainly no general void of wildlife in The Canyon. Seeing another traveler is always a blending of curiosity at what they’re up to, and of gratitude that they’re out here too. From here our paths diverge. Some of us continue the hike. Some of us continue the hunt. Some of us back away slowly and keep an eye on the company.
This is the world of The Canyon, a product of its many stories. For us who see the Canyon but have yet to venture in, there are ways in all seasons to experience it. Try a trail, Fork, or any number of Hollows, and visit one of the last quiet places in any one of the unnamed corners of your 1.6 million acre backyard.
It’s a good place out here. Many go out to experience how The Canyon is now, many go out to experience how it All once was, this is an invitation to go and experience of how It can all still be tomorrow.
I’ll see you at the trailhead.
I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah.
Images: Grand Canyon Image Courtesy Pixabay, Public Domain
Audio: Contains audio Courtesy & Copyright Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio
Text: Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://logannature.org
Included Links: Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org
Strand, Holly, A Grand Old River, Wild About Utah, July 9, 2009, https://wildaboututah.org/a-grand-old-river/
Strand, Holly, Last Blank Spots on the Map, Wild About Utah, Oct 29, 2009, https://wildaboututah.org/last-blank-spots-on-the-map/
Ross, John F., The little-known story of how one man turned the Grand Canyon into an icon, AZ Central, Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., Gannett…, https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2019/01/27/grand-canyon-national-park-icon-john-wesley-powell-history/2651251002/
Hikes, Colorado Plateau Explorer, Grand Canyon Trust, https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/hikes/