Northeast of Moab on Scenic Byway 128 the Colorado River flows through the meandering canyon as it channels its’ way down to Canyonlands National Park, meeting up with the Green River from the North. We have been following and tracing the course of the Colorado for the last few years as it rushes from the Rocky Mountains National Park to the South Eastern edges of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Humbly always watching in awe as thousands of miles of river carve ancient canyons, dramatically distorting the landscape. We have seen beginning to end, forward and reverse from hundreds of perspectives. From white capped, rushing snow melt to stained red sandstone sediment, it endlessly changes shape, form and identity. Constantly flowing, constantly providing life across the Western Plateau.
The Colorado River is apart of us in mind, body and spirit. Like it, we are constantly changing our perspective of the world. We are adapting to the ever changing environment and flowing along through every turn. Tracing it as we journey across the West is like seeing a diagram of the vast network of blood vessels in our bodies. Each stream and river connecting along its’ endless path all create the intricate puzzle that make us and it so incredibly beautiful.
We pitched our tent at the base of the river in a grove of oak trees. On the first night the wind howled, tormenting tent poles, and the temperature consistently dropped by the minute. It was below freezing by the time clusters of stars began to illuminate the dark, cloudless sky. The preliminary show of the Lyrid shower, a few shooting stars burnt up, sending fragmented light streaming toward the North.
On the second night, just as the sun began to set in between the canyon, we watched bighorn sheep precariously fumble up on the sheer cliff walls across the river, searching for a place to bed down. We sat by the crackling fire, glued to the warmth and the sound of the constant flow of the river. Then I recited this poem I wrote for Tyema’s birthday…
“Flames flickering in the dead of night,
Under the cool ceiling of the moon dripped sky.
Silently watching the waltz behind the eye
That dominate, subordinate the crux of flight.
Licking reality, embers thrust across the millennial day,
Under the hearty haze of the sun stained streets.
Silently watching the waltz of challenged feet
That personify, dramatize the influx of sway.
Two of the same creatures beating the path with machete ease
Deliberate strides on days so long and lean.
The wolf child, naked and exposed for all to be seen,
We howl at each other, no mercy or please
Because all things foreign get turned out at the knee.
Tossed and examined; to feign is to bleed.
Reaching deep into the enchanted sea
Of our own interpreted destiny.
The fire relishes, remembering days of youth
Irrevocable, inconceivable, irreplaceable placidity.
Inconsolable, incompatible, indulgent couth.
Radiantly rendering the impossibility of relinquishing rigidity.
So stands the sapling, savoring soil and sun
Iridescent, inconceivable, irrigated elasticity.
Irrevocably indestructible. Incumbent eccentricity.
Says to the flame, ‘I’m here ‘til we’re done.’” -G
We looked out over the vast expanse, sheer rock faced canyons as far as the eye can see. Vibrating reds and yellows dancing in the spring heat with the snow peaked la sals towering over the lands like a faithful watchman. The Colorado and Green rivers flowing off in the far distance carving their path of beautiful destruction. These beautiful canyons have withstood millions of years of eroding conditions. Little pieces of themselves being broken off, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, from the forceful winds and seeping waters. With each layer of depletion, instead of the appearance of something’s missing, these canyons only grow grander in their beauty becoming something more rather than something less. I was born twenty four years ago today. So far in my life experience, I have suffered greatly and loved greatly and I have weathered my own storms. These canyons teach me about strength, to withstand the test of time. There are forces in life that come and try to break us down, it is inevitable. We cannot control when they come or how they try to deplete us. All we can do is be resilient, learn the lessons that they teach. Because each time we feel ourselves breaking down we are actually growing stronger. In this sentiment, I felt such inner peace. -T
Mesa Arch, Canyonlands NP.