The Canyon

I flew over the Grand Canyon recently (the photo above is from that trip, a commercial flight at about 30,000 feet), which reminded me of my love for that spot on the planet. Although it's been years since I've visited, I still think of it a lot. Many years ago I become a life member of what was then called the Grand Canyon Natural History Association, but which is now called simply Grand Canyon Association. It was a bargain, since they don't even offer a life membership any more.

My love affair with the Grand Canyon began with a road trip my family took when I was probably not even a teenager. Years later I fed my passion with many backpacking trips that eventually took me to nearly all of the unmaintained trails as a young adult.

When I was 21 I trained as a river guide with O.A.R.S. in Angels Camp, California. Within six months of my first trip down any river I was rowing my own boat down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Since it was a 30-day private trip (which are not allowed any more), I had to quit my job to go, which I did without hesitation. It was an insane thing to do on several counts, but I was young and in love. After that first trip I went down every year for the next six, usually leading a private trip.

The Canyon is where I proposed to my wife, with whom I will soon celebrate 23 years of marriage (beside Thunder River on the anniversary of our first kiss). The Canyon is where I almost died. Several times. The Canyon is where I learned many lessons I carry with me to this day. The Canyon is where I honed a self-reliance that forms my inner core of strength. The Canyon is where I learned that the wonder of our world and the universe of which it is a part is all the spirituality I need.

As river guides, we called it simply "The Grand". But as a backpacker I first called my love "The Canyon," which it will forever be to me. In my heart, at least, there could really only ever be one.

Deer Creek Canyon

Deer Creek Canyon.