My feet had a job to do: ease their way back into disgustingness. They wanted to do it slowly, and the Grand Canyon was just the place.
Dusty and dry, vast and enticing, there’s nothing quite like the Arizona desert. It’s hot, remote, and colourful, with a good dose of strange. Scattered across the cracked, ruddy earth are small settlements, mobile home dwellings, communities of perhaps a dozen people; sprawling ranches and farms; layered earth; endless blue skies; tiny towns. Every shade of ochre, red, orange, yellow and brown surrounds and rises up around the green hardy shrubs that push through the unforgiving soil.
Another sponsored night (thank you again Mitch and Marla!) had us comfortably arriving at the Grand Canyon with our accommodation already sorted out — all we needed to do was get out and explore.
I was still shaking off a cold I’d picked up on the way into Las Vegas, so while the temptation to hike down into the canyon was ever-present, knowing I’d have to ascend again was deterrent enough to keep us atop the steep canyon walls. We spent an evening walking a few well-paved miles along the South Rim.
No photo can relay what it’s like to stand on the precipice of the Grand Canyon, no photo could even come close. The enormity is one thing. The changes are another. The array of colours is astounding at any momemt, but what a photograph doesn’t capture is how frequently, how dazzlingly those colours change as the sun and clouds move about overhead.
As our walk began, a few soft clouds were scattered across a broad blue sky. Soon a hazy brilliant light settled over everything, and then, as the sun dipped and oblique bright red beams of light cast off the canyon walls, storm clouds swirled in overhead, seemingly from nowhere. The smell of rain was in the air. Dark and threatening, the distant clouds soon burst forth in a vibrant lightning show, with deafening peals of thunder echoing through the canyon.
Funnel-shaped rain shadows in the distance let us know what was headed our way. We quickened our pace for the walk back, with darkness looming and the prospect of heavy showers drawing ever more present. We made it to shelter just in time for the spectacular storm to pass us by, and then ate and slept soundly as it raged on outside.
By morning there were few signs remaining that it had rained the night before — it was a new day with new light, new clouds, new colours. We had a few hours that morning to explore a little farther than we had the night before; by early afternoon we were in the car headed for Utah.