Today’s assignment is to choose a place to which I’d like to be transported if I could…
If I could be transported any where right in this moment, it would be to Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon. I will never forget the feeling I had the evening I hiked the mile and a half meandering trail from Indian Garden onto Tonto Platform and further on to its edge to Plateau Point.
I remember clearly the day we made that trek. After hiking up from Bright Angel trail earlier in the day, we pitched our tents just in time to experience a light mist of rain. My two friends and I waited for the rain to pass over us by hanging out in the tent reading Over the Edge – Death in the Canyon a book co-authored by our trail guide’s father, Michael Ghiglieri. The stories about people falling to their death (among many other situations) added to the mystique of our canyon experience and increased the anticipation we felt as we set out on foot later that afternoon to see the spectacular sunset that would be visible from the Point.
We left the shade trees and greenery of Indian Gardens and headed out onto the dusty crevices that were forged into the main hiking trail through Tonto Platform. The trail was surrounded by the cacti and scrub that are typical of a desert environment. Had it not been an overcast day, we would have had no relief from the sun.
As we approached the massive rocks that formed Plateau Point, the wind began to pick up, causing our thin rain coats to whip open before zipping them on tightly. My friends sat on the rocks closest to the trail head, while I was filled with a surge of invincibility that compelled me towards the railing on the edge of the rocks. I hung onto it tightly, as I gazed down at the Colorado river snaking below. I allowed my eyes to rest on the vast rocks and space around me, and just then another huge gust of wind made me cling tighter to the railing. I was joined by a young woman who appeared like in one of those slow motion movies of someone pulling herself onto the bow of a ship during a thunder-storm. We braced ourselves against the wind, laughing together as our hair was blowing wildly around us. It seemed like this moment of exuberance went on for several minutes before we were able to let go and head back to safer ground.
When I am having a moment of doubt or insecurity, I think back to that day and how empowering it felt. Even though I knew I was at the mercy of nature, I also felt the strength of my resolve to face whatever blows my way. I felt the strength of the wind, the rocks below my feet, the river below me, my friends perched on the rocks, the railing beneath my hands, and the kindred spirit next to me. I think that is as close as I have ever felt to being One with a Higher Power. I wasn’t really in charge of anything, yet I was not afraid.
We never did get to see the sunset that day, as the clouds formed a barrier through which the rays could not penetrate. Nonetheless, I could feel its powerful presence in my entire being. If I never get to go back, I hope I will always be able to transport myself back to that place just by closing my eyes and remembering.