Can you imagine what it must have been like for early explorers, Native Indians followed 1500 years later by Europeans, to travel along sweetly amongst the ponderosa pines, on soft sandy paths, possibly made by animals and suddenly to come to the rim of the Grand Canyon? Travelling from the North, the land would appear to stretch seamlessly away and oops!
I flew over the Canyon, or was flown that is to say, in a high wind. We took off when the winds were at the maximum tolerance, gusting at 35mph (the plane can only stand 40mph) and we had a very, very bumpy ride! But oh, golly-gosh, it was worth it!
This is the view from the plane:
The Colorado river and its tributaries flow thousands of feet below the rim, blue and turquoise from the minerals in the soil. Erosion from water and wind continues even today, though the river will never get much lower, it takes down with it every day thousands of pounds of silt, blow away from the mighty cliffs above.
Native Indians populated the Canyon, growing maize, beans and many other plants and using other native plants for medicine, fluids, basketry and a host of other uses, trading surplus with neighbouring tribes for furs and tools; then for some unknown reason and long before the Europeans arrived, they disappeared, leaving only traces of their habitation.
There is another canyon, less well known and possibly less spectacular on the San Juan River at Gooseneck. Here the San Juan twists and turns around steep escarpments a thousand feet above.
Between these two chasms there is Monument Valley, also an extraordinary place.