“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
– Blackfoot Proverb
“In belonging to a landscape, one feels a rightness, at-homeness, a knitting of self and world. This condition of clarity and focus, this being fully present, is akin to what the Buddhists call mindfulness, what Christian contemplatives refer to as recollection, what Quakers call centering down.”
– Scott Russell Sanders
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
― Anne Frank
“This spot where you sit is your own spot. It is on this very spot and in this very moment that you can become enlightened. You don’t have to sit beneath a special tree in a distant land.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood."
― Rachel Carson
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
― Edward Abbey
“The thing that strikes me now when I think about the Wilderness of Childhood is the incredible degree of freedom my parents gave me to adventure there. A very grave, very significant shift in our idea of childhood has occurred since then. The Wilderness of Childhood is gone; the days of adventure are past. The land ruled by children, to which a kid might exile himself for at least some portion of every day from the neighboring kingdom of adulthood, has in large part been taken over, co-opted, colonized, and finally absorbed by the neighbors.”
— Michael Chabon
For a few months I had been feeling overdue for an escape from my cubicle and into the Desert Southwest—to sample the spices in Edward Abbey’s hermitic sauce, to wake in the night and gawk at the same wild sea of stars beneath which Geronimo slipped through shadows, to be poked into consciousness by a yucca or a barrel cactus, to let my soul dance to the windswept tune of Kokopelli’s flute, to pee off a very tall rock.
Last week I corralled my wife and kids into our metallic green Hyundai and made that great escape. And I was not disappointed! The sauce was spicy. The stars winked ancient secrets at me. I was poked by yucca and cacti. My soul did the hokey pokey with Cochise’s favorite horse. I found my very tall rock.
We hiked from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River on the New Hance Trail. To be honest, the hike kicked my tail feathers. I’d done the same hike twice in my twenties… but I don’t remember engaging in so many full body contortions back then to scramble over boulders, duck under branches, and keep my footing on the loose rocks. But it was worth it! The New Hance Trail is beautiful, every rugged inch of it, and I climbed out of the canyon feeling more alive than when I began my descent. Such is the magic of the Desert Southwest!
Here are some pictures and highlights:
"I've never been anywhere like this!"
My parents shared the canyon with me.
So fun to pass it along to my own kids!
Water! A welcome sight at the start of Red Canyon.
“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
― Rachel Carson
I’m planning a spring break trip with my family, a backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon, descending the New Hance Trail to the Colorado River then climbing back to the South Rim on the Grandview Trail.
This is my first time taking my kids to the Grand Canyon. I’m looking forward to sharing it with them—and I’m looking forward to remembering what a great experience it was for me when my parents ventured into the canyon with me as a kid.
I remember my first impression of the canyon. It appeared that a huge chunk of the familiar Earth I knew had been cut away, and the scarred chasm left behind had been covered with veneer from some strange and faraway planet, Mars perhaps, but more likely some unknown word from a galaxy deep in the unexplored cosmos. In other words, it was an outlandish place that blew my mind! And as we descending into the canyon, walking into the reddened, stratigraphic pages of prehistory, tripping over stones that may have once been mud pies made by dinosaur babies, I was struck by the juxtaposition of the colossal and the diminutive—the almost indigestible hugeness of the canyon set against the intricate wonders it contained—lizards, pinyon jays, barrel cactus, a thousand million really cool rocks... Of course when I was seven years old I wouldn’t have explained it to you with the word juxtaposition. I would have simply shouted, “This is cool!” And I would have been right.
This spring, I hope those words once again echo off the canyon’s ancient walls. “This is cool!” I hope the magnificent chasm blows my kids' minds as thoroughly it once blew mine (I know it’s going to blow mine all over again).
When we return I’ll post pictures and highlights from our trip. In the meantime, I’m wishing you a spring full of happy trails and muddy feet! Cheers!