As we were hiking, my friend Beth turned to me and said, “When you write about crossing the Grand Canyon, you need to title your blog ‘Wondrous.'” She was right. The day was full of awe.
But I struggled with fully capturing what we’d experienced that day. So much of the time, I was left speechless, and that lack of words carried over into chronicling the journey. Prose just couldn’t do it justice. And so I turned to a more magical form — poetry — to express the wonder of all we encountered.
edges a dark
night makes way
for headlamps that
bob in a shining line
like beacons on the trail.
We pause to witness a burning
sun rising above orange, red, green, brown
mesas and plateaus. Placid, surefooted mules
pass by in single file on their way to weary work.
Sloping switchbacks continue to chase one another
in a greedy progression toward the flats. There is a dark tunnel
before an explosion of light. Below us rush murky brown waters;
a woven spider’s web of steel spans two cliffs. We cross in wonder.
Sound has finally arrived, and the Colorado’s flowing fills the close
canyon chasm. Birds call. A pause to look behind is full of wonder,
an exercise in wonder, the vision too grand, too vast to comprehend:
“This is where I have been, and around me the beauty of the earth.”
Turn, and the view ahead is daunting: “Here are miracles yet to see.”
Midmorning bakes as we file amid tamed wilderness, through camps,
meeting and passing by other journeyers. Undulating paths split the
narrow bottom. The verdant lushness, another new world. Sweet relief.
Hot feet are soothed by unexpected cool, dark seeps spreading across
packed dirt like a welcome. Shade slivers call “rest” from rock niches.
Falls entice, glimpses of a paradise not to be entered; we stick to the
trail. Afternoon stretches like a long-limbed cat; the climb begins.
Gnarled cedars, twisted and resolute, cling to shadowed walls.
Another set of steps, another slash of rock, another tired
traveler, another tunnel before one last oasis. A cold,
clean stream splashes from the old spigot.
Regroup. Legs quiver, lungs burn.
In full retreat, the sun anoints
reaching aspens, their bright
flags of the fall’s
tall firs stand