This blog is meant to encourage awareness and thoughtfulness about the Grand Canyon, one of our most precious resources.
It is not merely a story of what happens or has happened here, not a cookbook for what you should make of it yourself, but more an example of the many-faceted inspiration the Canyon nurtures in an artist, perhaps in you. Indeed, inspiration may be the Canyon’s greatest resource.
These words are sincere, my own take on this world, deliberately non-academic and directed toward users of social media. In no way does it represent the policies or opinions of the National Park Service, although it is done under the auspices of that entity, but is offered in gratitude, with my respect and admiration for these soldiers of conservation. George H. Jacobi 2016
On February 26, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Presidential Proclamation to establish Grand Canyon and Lafayette (now Acadia) as national parks. We celebrate the concurrent birthdays of two places that unite America, and the vision of her leaders ninety-nine years ago.
"The signing was January 11th, 1908, but the news of the Executive Order designating the cañón a National Monument would take days to arrive at this outpost by telegraph, due to several stately Ponderosa Pines falling across the railroad spur line and bringing down the adjacent wires." - Alexander Von Bingham, 1908.
Unlike the dozens of named Points on the Park Map frequented by those thousands of chattering camera-centric humans, this site with its 280 degree view makes us want to whisper to each other, even to wish we came alone.
Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt, and Aldo Leopold, some of the ‘saints’ of the conservation movement, made errors and changed directions during their lives. And we respect them more because of it. I may enlist John Muir and Ed Abbey for inspiration and solace. Some invoke Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. Others revere the ancient pueblos and petroglyphs from their own history. There is room for all in the National Park Service.
LOVED TO DEATH is not a cliché when it comes to our National Parks. Looking for an intimate connection to the most sublime landscapes in the country is not easy when they’re overcrowded. if you can find a quiet spot where you and the park can communicate, perhaps the secret spirit of the Earth will meet your soul one on one.
Despite the efforts of the national park's staff to explain the canyon and environs in detail, much of the true nature of this place remains untold. In that vein, I offer the modern visitor some of the lessons learned during my three month stay here at the South Rim - geographic, geologic, and biological. Oh, yes – and meteorological.
Stand in one place and you can pick out hundreds of rocks that are ready to let go and fall into Grand Canyon. Some are mere pebbles, some are the size of apartment buildings. Does one have YOUR name on it?
2016 – As many as six pairs of Condors nest in the Grand Canyon, and more across the Vermilion Cliffs. The empty expanses of high desert and the canyons of the Colorado River drainage have proved suitable habitat.
From Point Imperial on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we can see pretty much the whole 235 miles we drove to get here, a great semicircle of the Southwest. It’s hard to exaggerate the astounding variety of geology and biology, climate and history, this overlook encompasses.
At Grand Canyon, we come face to face with grandeur every day. It doesn’t wear off, but as time passes we begin to see the more intimate parts of this world, each one a functioning ecosystem in itself.
My spirit – my spirit seems to want to hang around the El Tovar, where it finally lost its tenuous grip on the reality you all still enjoy. I can’t seem to get out of there. Can you see me? Can you help me?
They crowd the trails and the buses from dawn till after sunset. They swarm the overlooks and the Visitor Center. Listen and you’ll hear languages from all over Europe and East Asia, voices from the Middle East, central Asia, South America, some from Africa and Australia. They all have something in common, though, the impulse that drew them here.
They come in all sizes and colors, and they come from all around the country. Some are still in High School, and some are long retired. Volunteers - at the Grand Canyon and the other parks - are crucial now to the success of the National Park system.
This Canyon gives us that example every day, all day, from before dawn to after sunset, and though we stare and stare, and click shutters endlessly, and marvel at the changing and deepening hues, we usually look without full awareness.
The 100 year history of Grand Canyon is rich with wild characters. Living History Week included Mary Colter, Blanche Kolb, and John Hance coming to life in individual performances, and many more in 3 performances of “Echoes of the Canyon.”
So pick the longest trail between overlooks, ditch the phone, and walk. The cacophony of bus chatter disappears; the silence comes on slowly, like a fog, until there is only the crunch of your own footsteps.