Saturday, October 6, 2012

To feel the presence of stone and time

Colorado Plateau
The Grand Canyon
Traveling the long highways along the high, plateau deserts of the American Southwest, one can stop and visit places like Zion or the Grand Canyon and many other amazing National Parks.

The beauty of the Colorado Plateau is most often portrayed by images of the Grand Canyon.  Visually, it captures you, as it did my son in this picture. And yes, it is a magnificent place, but I want to tell you, there is so much more to discover...

Hiking in the Colorado Plateau is an experience of natural awakening; the area is a geological marvel dotted with bits of intriguing history and culture.  The area’s old nickname, Red Rock Country, comes from the brightly colored sandstone, long ago deposited by an ancient sea that cleaved North America in two.

Lava flow at Hidden Crater
Asteroid Impact
Meteor Crater in Arizona

The scales of time resonate within you, if only one stops to listen.  At the bottom of the Grand Canyon you can pick up rocks more than two billion years old. That’s twenty times older than the end of the age of the dinosaurs.  Not far off, an asteroid impact blasted a kilometer wide crater in the land a mere thousand centuries ago.

Zion National Park
Angel's Landing, Zion National Park
After climbing a particularly stunning trail, my wife and son look out over the Zion Canyon on the peak of Angel’s Landing, a massive rock formation along the Virgin River.  From the river, the way transitions into roughly paved switchbacks until nearly the summit, where people breathlessly cling to heavy iron chains, not so much from the two and a half mile hike, but from the dizzying drop-offs on either side.

Flowers and Cinders
The Colorado Plateau, nestled west of the Rockies in the four corners region of Southwestern United States, is a place of intimate moments, where the very rock speaks to you in a language all its own.

I recommend taking the time to stop at some of the quieter, lesser known spots, like the enchanting landscape of black cinders in Hidden Canyon State Park in Northern Arizona, where as the sun went down, we walked across soft cinders and climbed jagged lava flow, and where our spirit drifted with the cool wind on dry mountain grass.

More pictures of my trip to the canyons in the Southwest