The topography resembles papier mache, crinkled a little here and there. This is a region of implacable upheaval. I become lost in its bays and shelf forests. When one region falls into shadow and cools, my eyes, like ravens, fly off to another butte, or an adjacent scarp. I stand on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon because I took a wrong turn.
My plan had been to spend Memorial Day Weekend at Lake Powell at a party. I drove many miles beyond the Grand Canyon, hoping to avoid it in favor of a lake filled with pleasure craft, and I’m not talking blow up dolls. Past the gates of Wahweep Marina I chugged. I paid for a spot along the lake and trundled down to the shore in my truck camper, slamming up against a wall of RV’s jammed cheek-to-jowl for miles. My bad. It was Memorial Day weekend, after all. But I wasn’t about to listen to drunks singing All Along the Watchtower all night.
I escaped the heat and flies of Lake Powell and raced away from the crowds. I chugged past the giant smokestacks of Page, Arizona, then soared south down Highway 89 toward the Gap. Soon, I’d turn east and head back home. The North Rim entrance offered me a last chance at some wildlife of another kind. I took it.
I veered a hard right on 89A, passed over the deep rent of Marble Canyon at Navajo Bridge just south of Lee’s Ferry. I sailed through House Rock Valley, following the towers and blood of the Vermillion cliffs on my right. My vehicle mounted the Kaibab Plateau and I found myself cruising through Jacob Lake and the dozens of miles of high pine and mountain meadows toward the North Rim. So far away from the barbequed heat of Lake Powell, so wrapped in forest and hillock, mile after mile. Once a person travels all this way, she should never go back to the world. I’d driven dozens of miles to bypass this Grand Canyon, then just as many to get back here. That’s what I do with heaven, race away from it, only to walk up to its door, the last house on the block. At the end of the day, I can’t avoid it, and wonder why I ever tried so hard to run away.
Now, rim side, I’m staring down a side canyon along Widforss Trail. Widforss is an easy, flat, rim hike. I find a forested bench (not the kind you find in a park). I nestle in and look out at the Grand Canyon.
The ponderosa here make the ones back in Montezuma County, Colorado, look about the size of jack pines. Mount Humphries, 70 miles away outside of Flagstaff, is still knitted in thin bands of snow. And I hope for that feeling of paradise those beer drinkers back at Lake Powell were craving. My desire for mystical ecstasy just another kind of thirst. Even a want for heaven is another kind of drought.
In what is lies the true mystical experience.
© 2021 by Michael C. Just
Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.
You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+dirt+journey+of+a+mystic+cowboy&crid=1S40Q4BXSUWJ6&sprefix=the+dirt%3A+journey+of+a+m%2Caps%2C180&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_23
Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002
Two of his short stories have recently been published online. The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW
I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October