On a recent trip to Arizona, hosted by the Greater Phoenix CVB, I had my first encounter with the Grand Canyon. I had been preparing myself for the rendezvous with the great chasm carved out of the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. Surely though it can’t be such a surprise after all the pictures I’d seen. I knew what to expect. Or so I thought.
And then it happened. As our Cessna aircraft approached the South Rim of the canyon, the vista opening up transcended all I’d ever known. I was wowed in an entirely new sense of the word. The vast gaping hole into the earth was not only a touchingly striking sight, bathed in the multitude of colors created by the morning sun, it was also larger than life! I knew I’d feel small next to the grand gorge but to feel this humbled and awe-filled was way beyond my expectations.
Perhaps it was the timeless beauty of the canyon that struck such a powerful cord with me. These spires and buttes have been shaped over millennia by movements of the earth, I kept on thinking. Perhaps it was the solace I felt being amidst the ancient rock. There was curious comfort in that. Perhaps it was the marriage of shade, wind and sunshine that played a beautiful trick on my mind and enchanted me so.
Our panoramic flight over the widest and deepest part of the canyon lasted some thirty exhilarating minutes. The plane descended as low as 1,000 feet above the rim, to give us better and more dramatic views. And dramatic they surely were.
After landing, we did a three-mile hike into the canyon along the South Kaibab Trail. A series of steep switchbacks took us from the Yaki Point Overlook to Ooo-Ahh Point, an aptly named lookout that affords 360-degree views. The scenic trail then continued to Cedar Ridge, dropping 1,200 feet in elevation and descending through layers of rock strata that comprises more than 40 million years of geological history. At the picnic lunch on this dazzling ridge, our guides Seth and Brian of Arizona Outback Adventures discussed the Grand Canyon’s rich history, geology and ecosystems.
When we ascended back to the rim for our flight back to Phoenix, I felt like I’d happily go back down into the canyon, immediately. Now I dream of returning for the trek to the Havasupai, the Native American community that has been been living deep in the canyon for the last 800 years.