Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon (Part 2)

(part 2 continued)

Sitting on the patio, with the vast canyon behind and below us, Ranger Gaylen told us stories of oceans, of hardened sand dunes, melting islands and continents that eventually formed the the Colorado Plateau and the Grand Canyon. At one point, the wind gusts blew half the ranger exhibit off the table, despite our shelter within the curve of a rock wall.

Weathered by the forces of erosion through water, ice, wind and the Bright Angel fault, the entire natural history of the world lay before us in visual form. A treasure trove one mile deep.

Robbie took in the hour long talk, legs jiggling, hands tapping, knees flapping back and forth. I made no effort to stop him. The family from Israel to my right nodded at me with a smile in silent understanding. The girls from Netherland to our left gave me a thumbs up.

It is hard to know at times whether Robbie was taking in anything as we traveled, he very often wiggled and moved as most kids need to when sitting still listening to “knowledge” for over 15 minutes. We have attended the “adult” geology talks at Yosemite, Zion and now here, and I have learned to let it be.

Ranger Gaylen: “As a review, what 3 types of rocks are there? Can someone tell me one?”

Robbie raised his hand, “Igneous”.

He leaned over and whispered to me, “you know Mom, I don’t know how or why I remember things. I don’t remember them right away when I learn them, but then somehow my body just remembers.”

Mom: “Do you mean your mind?”

Robbie: “No Mom. My body. My whole body just knows things. I move. I know something. Not my mind. Well my mind is my body, isn’t it?”

Mom: “Let’s talk about that after, you make a very good point Robbie.”

After the talk, Ranger Gaylen asked Robbie what he learned.

Robbie: “Well I learned the Schizt is a very old rock, I like that rock best, and that it is found at the bottom of the canyon. And that the canyon is 1800 million years old.”

Ranger Gaylen signed off on his Junior Ranger booklet. Together we shuffled our way up to the Visitor center, exhausted, our week long illness of intestinal virus and high altitude catching up with us.

Robbie was sworn in as a new Junior Ranger of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Robbie: “Mom, I love it here. It is magical here.”

Mom: “Yes honey, it is.”

Robbie: “I want to come back Mom, it is so quiet…it’s time to go, Mom. I am just too tired.”

Mom: “Do you have a headache at all?”

Robbie: “No, just tired. We need to rest in a room now.”

Mom:. “You are right”.

And so we left the park. Back past the golden meadows of gleaming grass, shivering leaves on white Aspen, and tall stands of Ponderosa. At 7000 feet, we passed slow burned stands of pines, pitch black and dark grey. Signs appeared, “6% grade”, and we descended further to 6000 and 5000 feet, feeling better as we went. Rocks appeared, first ghostly white, then speckled black, over a deep curve into a canyon and the deepest red, the Vermillion cliffs.

As we descended further, the Egyptian myths played on our story channel, a story of Ma’at, the goddess of order, harmony and the seasons. Purples and pinks appeared above the cliffs. Light shot across the sky. At times, a layer of the deepest blue came between the cliffs and purple pinks, as if the sunset was happening in one part of the world, but here the blue light of the day said, “not yet”. We have color here, see us: Ma’at. Ra. Anubis. And then, it was gone.

We came to a rest at “Cliff Dwellers Inn”. The apogee moon, the Hunter’s moon, vast in its own right, rising to the east. The Colorado River, several miles away, the narrowest point and a crossing between the North and South Rim. Here we will rest and recover, integrate from Zion and the Grand Canyon. And take in all the energy and beauty we have been given.