Crossing the Grand Canyon

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.

Grand Canyon view from south rim.
The view from the top of the south rim. We started our trek from South Kaibob Trail and travelled north.

Wondrous Canyon


The rim

edges a dark

bowl. Hushed

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

glimmering leaves

flags of the fall’s

colors, while

tall firs stand



sky looking across the grand canyon

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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