Bryce Canyon is an epic poem, a fantasy novel forever unfolding, creative non-fiction and personal narrative in uncountable variations. Hiking the canyon is a writer’s paradise: at every turn, a prompt. You can’t walk ten feet without inhaling a panoramic sweep of towering red hoodoos or savoring the silver light glinting off smooth twists of drift trees. Iron red layers erupt with evergreen, juxtaposed against white monoliths. Contrast, change, challenge.
Each step a measured descent from rim to canyon floor, a descent into the detailed particulars of evolution and scale. Each rock measured by time we cannot begin to fathom, though we attempt by placing our human companions before a tower of stone for visual contrast. Each sprawling-rooted tree eking its survival amid sliding stone, the stone itself shape-shifting with time. Hoodoos rising like monuments to imagination, only to crumble imperceptibly to boulder, to graveled dunes of multi colored sand.
Folly or fate, we DO need to compare what we see to personal experience – how we live, process, create. How else begin to comprehend if not through the senses filtering fact and feeling, the distilled ‘WOW!!!’ a universally shared exhale of appreciation, of awe?
Bryce Canyon’s panoramic views sweep you off balance before you take the first step in any direction – such a reversal for this East Coast gal, where the norm is to hike uphill for the view. Here, you need to stop, to breathe. You need to reach out to steady the inevitable reeling instilled by both altitude and vast openness beneath. You need to take in so much more than the eye can see. You need to pace yourself beneath the hot dry sun. You need to let go the ‘usual’ order of things. You need to let it all in.
As with writing, we might start out with a grand view. But it’s the particulars garnered from the journey down and in that brings to view, that surfaces connection, the elemental nature of the truth we seek to name through experience and share through words.