I had read about it, talked about it and thought about it, and then one evening, Tuesday 28th September 1982, thanks to Bristol University, on a day when we had seen many beautiful and interesting places, the coach drew up at yet another “overlook” and I knew that this was “it”.
There it was, this truly Grand Canyon. It was pink and coral, mauve and grey, and every other colour you can imagine. It was wide, it was deep, it was long - wider, deeper and longer than I had ever thought it could be. At that moment the geology was unimportant, it couldn’t enter into my thoughts or mind, which were filled with the wonder and awe of this stupendous spectacle. As in all times of emotion, words were utterly useless. My ideas of scenery were shattered, my ideas of space and distance were magnified.
After a little while we drove on to the Desert View Point and climbed the tower for a higher view and again my mind was encompassed by the might and majesty of this grand canyon. Only later did questions arise and details stand out and by that time arrangements had been made to go down the Canyon in a helicopter. Alas, on the morrow the wind was raging at 39 knots and helicopters were all grounded. For a little while the aeroplanes kept going so off I went in a Cessna for a 35 minute 100 mile trip skimming over the top of this vast picture that nature has carved on the face of the earth and it is only from above that you see it as a whole, a vast gulley or gash cut into the flat plateau. My mind boggled at every turn, as another view, another angle presented itself and I knew that nothing could ever dull these magic moments.
A passing plane gave a scale and I realised man’s true size in this gigantic region, a mere midget.
After the flight I ate my lunch sitting on a rock on the rim, with a view of the Precambrian Vishnuschist, cut by acid dykes, with the Cambrian Tapeats sandstone above, a gap here of 500 million years and with vultures and eagles soaring beneath me and all around cliffs, buttes and pinnacles of red and blue, purple and grey, limestones, shales and sandstones.
In the evening at the Bright Angel restaurant I had hoped to see the sun set over the canyon, but alas cloud hid the sun from view. Nevertheless, to see the light fading on such a wide expanse of such varying depths gave me almost as much pleasure as a sunset could have done and I had seen the Grand Canyon.
Now, I would like to go down the Colorado in a boat, from the top to the river sides itself, but despite its taming by dams, dams which govern the flow of water depending on the number of electric guitars, hair driers, tin openers, television sets, air conditioners and neon signs in Las Vegas in use at the moment, the river is still the great sculptor and is still carving its way ever downways.