The Grand Question

There’s a great debate going on in our household.  Does the Grand Canyon’s grandeur look more impressive from the rim or from the river?  Our next stop was the canyon’s North Rim where the controversy ensued.

The female contingent of our household believes this monument to erosion looks more impressive from the rim where one can look out over a network of chasms and sub-chasms ten miles across and more than a mile deep.  Knobs and buttes rise like temples from the abyss, each sculpted with cliffs cut by side-streams.

The problem, her male counterpart contends, is an absence of scale.  With no reference points, one has trouble appreciating how large and deep the thing really is.  The problem is magnified by the human-caused haze than now lingers over the canyon.  When the first explorers gazed into its depths, they estimated the river to be no more than six feet across.

Sitting beside the river, which is more like 300 feet from bank to bank, one can better appreciate the scale.  Canyon walls can tower a thousand feet or more, frequently straight up.   The sky is often little more than a slot in the heavens, and when one can see the rims, they seem impossibly far away.  To me, that is the epitome of Grand Canyon Grandeur.

Both Dianne and I have seen the Grand Canyon from nearly angle possible.  We’ve spent countless nights bunking on the rim, we’ve hiked from rim to river and back again countless times (sometimes twice in one day) and we’ve floated the river twice, once in motorized rafts and once in hard-sided dories.

On this trip, we would spend four nights camped at the North Rim, and because of the weather, only see the canyon from the top.   Our first day in the canyon we indulged in one of our favorite Grand Canyon pastimes.  We had lunch at Grand Canyon Lodge staring out into the canyon.  That was followed by a sunset drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal, the North Rim’s prime viewpoints.

The next day we hiked the Widforss Trail along the rim followed by the short hike to Bright Angel Point behind the lodge before heading once again to the Lodge’s dining room, this time for dinner.

The following morning, we found that temperatures has plummeted, and our campsite was covered in snow.  Our attack penguin, Adelle, was happy, but our solar panels were not.  The campground Walley came around door-to-door to tell the dozen or so remaining campers that we could use our generators longer than the prescribed time.  That was handy because our trailer furnace burned constantly throughout the day and night.

The next day was cold but clearing.  We hiked the Transept Trail from our campsite to the Lodge, which was now closed for the season.   Snow plastered the hillsides, occasionally illuminated by the sun poking through clouds.  It was a pleasant day, but the rim versus river debate would have to wait.

We were definitely looking forward to the drive to lower altitudes and warmer temperatures at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Arizona’s Verde Valley.