WALKING IN DARKNESS
Those of you that know me know that I’m a city guy. The idea of traipsing through the woods isn’t one of my top ten things to do. The thought of trekking into the forest in the dark of night, in six inches of snow, surrounded by wild elk, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions doesn’t even make my top 1000 list. But there I was, adorned with hiking boots, snow cleats, 3 layers of thermal outer clothing and enough survival gear to last for several days in the wilderness. Why was I doing this? The Grand Canyon. It’s always been on my bucket list and now I was finally here. Of course, I couldn’t just drive up to one of the many controlled viewing points for tourists conveniently located on the rim of the canyon. I had to find a remote location that wasn’t marked on the maps, known only to the locals, and that requires that we hike deep into the forest through snow and ice and in complete darkness.
We began our trek in pre-dawn darkness, slogging through the snow, passing shadows amongst the trees, peering into a dense darkness that seemed intent on hiding its contents. In an attempt to divulge the seriousness of our quest, our guide, Mike Campbell of Canyonology Treks, would stop periodically to point out animal tracks in the snow. He looked upon the Mountain Lion tracks as a mere novelty. I begged to differ with him. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
We finally reached our destination, a small promenade of rock, elevated some 5,000 feet above the canyon floor, jutting outward into the vastness of the darkened Canyon. After a quick safety briefing on the ill fate of photographers that cared more for a great shot than for great footing we progressed outward into the vast openness of the Canyon. No guardrail. No safety net. A mere speck of humanity standing amidst a grandness that is beyond comprehension, surrounded by the darkness of night, peering into a blackness unwilling to reveal its secrets. We could do nothing but stand sentinel, all eyes facing east, waiting for the glow of dawn.
We stood frozen on our oasis of rock reeling in awe as the first glimmer of morning light began to reveal the secrets that surrounded us. With hues of deep purple and rose-orange the flame of pre-dawn slowly began its process of unveiling the majesty of this sacred keepsake. First defining the rim of the canyon the glow of dawn progressively crawled downward, plunging deeper and deeper into the crags and crannies that textured the canyon walls, until it filled the depths of the canyon floor nearly a mile below us, casting a reflective glow upon the running waters of the Colorado River. Our canvas was complete.
Nothing can rightly prepare you for your first exposure to the Grand Canyon. Grand is an understatement relative to the Canyon’s stature. As our Canyon Guide put it, “I’ve yet to hear someone exclaim upon their first viewing of the Canyon, “Oh my, isn’t that grand. The normal exclamation usually includes some form of profanity.” I was no exception.
If you haven’t visited the Grand Canyon go now. In the mean time, you can view the shoot from this glorious day at: