On Edge at Grand Canyon National Park

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"STOP! What's that?!"  
Compliantly, I took my foot off of the accelerator. Didn't exactly stop.
It's nearly the same thing.

"Whoa, look!" Chris exclaimed. "Hey, kids, give me the camera!"

But I didn't want to stop. We were almost there. To our surprise, the arid Utah-Arizona desert had given way & we'd been driving through miles of thick evergreen woods, then past acres of scorched pine trees sporadically studding an altered landscape, and finally slowed to observe teams of forest service workers performing controlled burns, a lone water truck parked nearby just in case. That gave us pause & led to a thoughtful discussion of man's intervention & nature management practices: "Why did the forest go the pharmacy?" deliberated Katrianna. "Because it needed a prescribed burn."

And now, after a quick chat with the park ranger about a snow storm that had made this visit seem impAssible just days before, we'd made it through the entrance. The wide blue sky overhead once again narrowed into focus due to encroaching, dense green conifers lining this, the sole road into the North Rim, its painted yellow dividing line leading on myopic horizon-driven perspective.

"Really, Cat -- Stop!"

I did. But not without complaint that he was braking my ride:
"Nobody gonna slow me down, oh-no, I got to keep on movin.'"


[Impressed? Progressed into the early '80s for that one... Oh-no.] We came to a complete and fool stop in a morass moraine.

Following the 26th click to get his perfect buffalo action photo, he retorted, "Well, why did we come here then?" As if that could shutter me up... yet, before I could answer, the Chorus - aka, voices of reason & discernment in any worthy Greek (parental) drama - began the refrain that would accompany us throughout the rest of our visit: "Daaaddd,
            We came to the Canyon to see the GRAND Canyon!"

You understand, it's not that the girls and I have a bi[a]son against them. The first dozen or so times our family saw a wild (reintroduced) bunch in the buffs, we couldn't hide our admiration, hoofed it over to 'em and didn't dare buffalo nickel & dime Dad's efforts to get his shot herd round the world. (And why did he do it? Because he cud. Ruminant on that a while...)

However, we did have other plans for this particular afternoon. At The Grand Canyon. Hmm, ever wonder (like one of those seven wonders) what people do there when they're not taking pictures of buffalo?

CrGMHbrt.jpgAfter mule-ing it over, M&K had a Brighty idea!  "How's about descending 800 feet into the Canyon?" It's hard to fathom, but they always insist on taking an in-depths look at things. OK, so the actual depth is an additional 5,000 feet beyond that, but, really, how far can we be expected to lower our standards?  Lacking donkeys (huh? what are you implying? please shy away from abraysive humor), we hiked the North Kaibab trail to the Coconino Overlook. Truly, it was quite an enjoyable experience until we realized that we also had to return the Grand gesture by climbing back up all 3,200 feet.GrCcn.jpg
[That's correct, this is no tall tale, there were 4 of us. And, if we're being completely forthright, the sum total of our exertion would be much closer to 6,400 since you'd need to add another 3,200 hands. Sorry, perhaps this should have been put in a footnote?] Few know the subtitle of Marguerite Henry's classic novel -- the Old Timer edition -- is Burro my Heart at Wounded Knees. My eyes grow Misty just thinking about it... After that swell(ing) adventure, we decided to live above the influence - or is that above the Rim? Anyhow, our excitement was over the Top for the next hike.
Where we were promised angels. Heavens to bet see, angelic visions in every direction! Canyon imagine that? Even we couldn't miss the Bright Angel Point - obviously, this was the place for us. (Fine, so we hadn't made the final cherubic cut at the Sistine Chapel, but here in the good ol' US of A every body has a chance & winging it is rewarded.) The trail began as a casual stroll until its progressively narrowing path required more of a clinging-to-the-canyon-wall-for-dear-life - lest one prefer the afterlife - advancing shuffle. And, then, it was just like they say: We'd arrived!
GrCbrA1.jpgIndeed, there were long, if somewhat hazy, views of the Grandeur Canyon. Yet, the 360 degrees of shiny celestial rays were blinding & my Son glasses were of no help. I simply couldn't make out the angels for the obtuse angles. (Not trying to be acute - but aren't ya supposed to stay on their right side?)
"Halo!"                        "Anyone there?!"                                  "Hark???"         

I got no answers.

What a chasmclysmic revelation.

Still, there wasn't time to dwell on disapPointments, so we cut a Caper Royal, anxiously awaiting the next window of opportunity. It came a mere 23 mile drive + 0.4 mile hike later, in the form of a sign:

As soon as we saw it there, rising before us & illuminated from within, it was clear this one was different. Instantly, I fell. To praying, that is. With two very sound reasons for doing so: 1) irrefutable verification that my faith (and the ground) was still rock solid, and 2) a fervent hope that, in my momentary absence, Katrianna might ask her father to escort her across this promised land instead. "Oh, absolutely," I'd glibly told her in the car minutes earlier, "I'll be your hiking partner for this one, buddy! Ain't no mountain high enough, right?" (The park newspaper had rated this trail as "Easy" with negligible elevation gains... never thought to check its pride-goeth-before-a-fall level of difficulty losses.)
GCAnWdow.jpgWhen one door closes, a window opens... yet sometimes it's necessary to leave adore ajar. The view was staggering, but I wasn't falling for it. Despite dear daughter's urging, I opted to stay with that last little tree - obviously, it knew something we didn't - plus, it was right there rooting for me. I even started to suspect that these "Angel Points" were a bit of a stretch... Might they be eulogistic misnomers for all those previous trip-idatious park guests who lived a little too close to the edge? Not so brighty, after all? Maybe being an angel isn't all its cracked up to be. Nahhh, 'cause that would make our lives Pointless.

And then where would we go?

You guessed it, Euclid Dante! On one last dusky descent. It was fantastic, passing an ancient Anasazi granary, following a dry stream bed through deciduous trees & pines to a beautiful, mystical, dripping, mossy canyon wall encircling spring pools fed by rivulets underfoot & gorgeous vistas opening onto more fin-like, multi-colored formations beyond. Of course, what made it extra special was

a Cliff hanger? Oh-no. What was the name of that place? Nothing Springs to mind...

Anyway, got to keep on moving. Before total darkness closed in, I wanted to see if Chris could get a picture of me with those buffalo. What a rush.

Can always work on taking those leaps of faith later...

So, what did it all mean?  Finally, on the way out (of Arizona), I received a sign I understood:


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