Grand Canyon


I PULL UP TO THE RIM AT DUSK, craning my neck out the window of my rental car, in anticipation of the view. View, when referring to the Grand Canyon, deserves all the superlatives, the oohs and ahs, the looks left and right given to other visitors to confirm the sheer magnificence of what lies in front of your eyes. I am not disappointed. It is simply magnificent by the minute. The east canyon bath itself in a tub of orange and reddish nectar brought there from the setting sun over the west rim after another hot summer day in Arizona.
Visits to the Grand Canyon can easily be define primarily as a visual experience. To see, is what I evidently come here for. However, standing atop the South Rim in the waning evening light, I come for something more than is perceptible to the eye.
After a nearly entire year at sea level, depressed by the absence of great wonders and loneliness on the mountain, I need to squeeze in a little escape. Due to other obligations with my traveling crew, the only way to fit a run in would be to do it early morning.
At about 5:45 am, I busy myself preparing my gels, and water. No headlights will be necessary as the morning dawn will guide me through the trail. I haven’t even started running but I’m already psyched by the anticipation. There is no resisting the temptation of crawling back to bed for a good morning sleep in because it doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running. I leave everyone sleeping and sneak out of the room.
It feels nice and fresh in the wind, so I overdress, opting for a long sleeve. My first encounter is with a fawn just outside my bedroom door who is enjoying his first meal in a sound asleep village. This will be my last encounter for the rest of the run.
The west rim trail that presents itself in front of me is exciting and exhilarating. It takes me a moment to get used to the altitude (7000 feet or just a little over 2100 meters) but with a few deep breaths, I dive into it.
This time the crescent sun, shine timidly on the west ridge, coloring the early morning rocks and cliffs in an orange glow. On the first turn, the view over the canyon is spectacular. I can see clearly the Bright Angel trail that descent from the south ridge and ends at the Colorado River. Too bad my logistic doesn’t allow me for this most preferred route. I guess it will be a good excuse to come back.
There is no wind on the rim, the sun warm up my face and after removing my fleece I can let my body ride the trail freely. After passing Powell Point at about 4 miles into the run, the edge of the single track kisses the ledge of the canyon. It is intimidating as a misstep could be fatal. But the experience is unique. After passing Hopi Point, Mohave Point, and Pima Point, I finally reach Hermits rest in just over an hour (8.5 miles). It is 7:10 am. A bus shuttle from the village is parked on the side. I sneak to the window. The driver is dozing off on her wheel. The surrounding all sound asleep and I push on quietly on the bus door. When I do look up, she greets me in and tell me that the bus is leaving in 5. I crash in a back sit and rewind the tape so that I can hear and feel that run again in my head. The unique color of dawn, band of deers furtively strolling on the paved road, the air, thin and tactile, smells of pines and wind. I breath deeply, grab my bottle with my hands together to drink its water and splash my neck and face. The running has been smooth and relaxed. I chuckle inside at the idea of having cheated the crowd. Who needs sleep anyway?

One response to “Grand Canyon

  1. Pingback: A change of pace « Footnotes·

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