Roadtrip Memories #2: Grand Canyon – May 2001

‘You don’t have to do this, but I’ve heard it makes the experience better. So if you trust me, close your eyes, we’ll all hold hands and I’ll lead you to the edge.’

Jesse our driver, cook and tour guide expertly manoeuvres half a dozen voluntarily blinded backpackers across the street to the Blue Angel trails viewing platform at the Grand Canyon.

‘Okay guys, open your eyes.’

I slowly open my eyes and participate in the collective gasp at the sheer awesomeness of what my brain is now trying to process.

‘It’s over eight miles across and one mile deep.’

It is genuinely hard to process the enormity of what is laid out before me. Its like a whole world sunk into a canyon for us to gaze upon. It is breathtaking, beautiful, bewildering and bewitching. I am incapable of expressing in words the experience of viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time that do the event justice, so don’t take my word for it, go and see it for yourself.

We stood in silence and took in the fantastic view. The unexpectedly vivid colour of the horizontal stripes, the peaks and troughs between the vast canyon walls, the columns of rock surviving erosion to leave huge fingers pointing to the sky and the far far away turquoise ribbon of the Colorado river. It is all quite mind-bendingly magnificent. We take the obligatory plane tour over the Canyon and oddly pay to see a film about it on an IMAX screen, even though its right there to see for real. The plane tour is fun and gives the opportunity for some amazing panoramic views, but it somehow doesn’t feel as real viewed through a window. I much prefer returning to the viewing platform in time to see probably the most beautiful sunset of my life over probably the most beautiful scenery I have ever beheld.

A short hike back to the campsite and we cook burgers over an open fire, drink a few beers and try to comprehend through discussion the incredible work nature had laid out for us to experience. The conversation begins to quieten and we simply enjoy the fire. As if from nowhere a herd of deer gently walk through our camp, between us and between the tents. Everyone falls into a silent awe of the spectacle. I am tempted to rush to my tent to grab my camera, but it somehow seems better just to enjoy the experience rather than try and document it. Even thought I am only 19 and preoccupied with drinking, music and football, I realise the natural world is a very beautiful and wonderful place.

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