The Canyon Crawl

Our first look at the Canyon upon exiting the shuttle van at the South Kaibab Trailhead. I’m not sure now, whether we noticed at the time, the trail we would soon traverse snaking along the edge of the steep slope shown here beginning at the lower right of the photo. We climbed this rim rock and stared… foolish old men held in kryptonite… 17-degrees Fahrenheit. Later I would come to understand these distemporal moments as “stopping the world” and “seeing without words.”

The Western Border of Iran

On Kaibab switchbacks, one false step and — Kaput. The far west border of Iran. Here, minutes below The Trailhead, it’s four-hundred feet to the slope which feeds you toward a free-fall of a few hundred more. It can take days or weeks to spot victims through binoculars. Grand Canyon is subjected to the same phenomena as other National Parks where the number of disappearances have swollen to over a thousand since the NPS was created (1916). Most disappearances occur within 30-50 yards of friends or family and most bodies are never found. Statistics reveal a disproportionate number of victims between the ages of fifty-four and seventy-four. Jeff and I were sixty-going-on-sixty-one when we started down The Kaibab that morning of January 28th 2014.

Magic Hour on South Kaibab

“Golden Hour” is photographers’ light in the minutes bracketing sunrise, or sunset. In the Canyon, due to the 7,000 ft elevation, sunrise comes several hours later than it does at sea-level. But, it’s worth the wait. The minerals reflect a unique color palette. In Grand Canyon there isn’t a “Golden Hour,” because the Sun is high in the sky by the time it rises over the Canyon. We just call it Magic Hour, which appears intermittently throughout the day for only a few moments at a time. It is great fortune to be in the right spot when it happens.

Kaibab Fiesta

Heading down The Kaibab during magic hour on the coldest day of the year was like getting a private showing at Dylan’s Candy Bar… few are present so you begin fumbling around scatter-shot. Only hardcore hikers or foolish old men come out in these conditions. It was seventeen degrees but I didn’t notice. Enthralled, I lost my sense of time, my vertigo… and my footing… the rest is in the book.