Up at first light, I break camp as the canyon slowly becomes day. I am on the trail as the first rays of sunlight hit the upper walls of the canyon. As I hike these last few miles, I am filled with a great sense of energy and lightness. Yes, my pack is a bit lighter, having eaten most of the food I packed in, but that’s not really the reason for this feeling. Sixty feels pretty darn good if you ask me!
Quiet, silence, peacefulness, stillness – these words all come to mind as I hike down and then out of Elephant Canyon on this early morning. They are more than just descriptive of this desert morning – they are this place, as much as these rocks are this place. I stop often to just drink it all in. There are stretches when there is no sound at all – no bird song, no wind, no jets (halleluiah), nothing at all. Then a spotted towhee sings its chattering song and I can’t help but feel like I am in heaven. Was it Thoreau who said that heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads? He would have found confirmation of that here with me this morning. I think he would agree that heaven is also found sandwiched between the ground beneath and the sky above, right here in the perfect stillness of a redrock desert morning.
As I drive out of the Elephant Hill parking lot, window down, I hear the song of a canyon wren and I can’t help but smile. This little bird is the voice, the spokesbird, of these Canyonlands. I’ve heard the song a thousand times, but this morning, as I make my way out of the park, it’s as if the song is being sung just for me. Is the canyon saying something to me? If so, what? I have my ideas, but I can’t really say I know for sure just what this land might be saying. I suppose that maybe, if I keep coming back to this redrock land of wild canyons, I’ll figure it out in my 60s. Sounds like a good plan to me. I’ll be back!