Reflection Blog Post from "The Humble Headlamp"
Plateau Point is located just a little over five miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, most easily reached by the Bright Angel Trail, the world-famous access route that most notably allows thousands upon thousands of awestruck tourists to dip their toe into the proverbial waters of this deep ravine. Most only make it over the lip.
The industrial-strength route of choice will bring you down seven or eight miles of classic scrambling and skittering known as the Hermit Trail, until you make a right and eventually emerge over the top of Tonto Pass (not the actual site’s name but it should be). After a cold, clear night under the stars at Horn Creek campsite, one can light out before the sun and arrive at Plateau Point right when the gods show up.
For months and months, Plateau Point was just a name on a map.
Or a picture on a computer, like so many other special places. Seeing pictures of this place was the inspiration behind putting the Grand Canyon trip together.
But in an instant, it became something else. Something more.
Like so many other places.
After my wife and I fumbled around by headlight, breaking camp and pulling on our 30-pound packs for the third morning beneath the rim.
After trudging tired feet down the short connector of trail, feeling the presence of the huge expanse lying dormant off to our left, our boot sounds the only noise in the silence of the predawn canyon.
After arriving at our destination, dropping our packs and finding just the right seat for the show. After brewing a hot cup of coffee to serve as our show time companion. After the sky peeled back layers of black to gray and seeing things around us take form, signaling the time to switch off the headlamps.
After the red burst from the East. After the slightest sprinkling of day that drew colors from every corner within view, colors that show their faces only at dawn and dusk. After the sun. After the river. After the wind.
Plateau Point became more than just a place.
We sat for over an hour, neither saying a word while the world was revealed around us. I thought right then that I would never forget this time, this place. Then I immediately wondered if that was true. How many times have I been somewhere, a place beautiful and bountiful, where I thought in the moment that the memory would be etched forever in my mind? Only to be overcome by the next place, the next sunrise, the next moment.
Some memories stay, some go.
This morning, from high on the point, the Colorado River seemed a dull greenish-brown strip bearing down through the rock walls. Our previous nights’ camp was on the waters’ shores, and I can’t help but marvel over the contrasting perspectives. Up close, the river was raging and fast, loudly galloping along its path. From 1300 feet up, it is merely a silent partner, one element in a comprehensive landscape.
Although out of range to see its true self, I knew it was still down there, cutting and carving this beauty with its power and persuasion. The surface was lively and sporting, masking the raw carnage taking place at the bottom, the tearing apart and wearing down of the very surface it had worked so hard to reveal. The struggle was admirable, the river tending every day to its creation, one born out of friction.
And maybe that was the difference. The turmoil that was the Colorado had created something eternal, something wonderful and lasting, but it was made through pain. Up close, it was so hard to see that wonderful purpose because of the rage and the waves, but a little perspective had changed all that.
Maybe it was the struggle and the journey.
Like the one we took over the last three days to get here this morning.
Maybe we would remember this place forever, not in spite of but because of the pain we went through to get here.
Maybe this was more than just a place.
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JW Mack # February 6, 2018