Going To The Grand Canyon Is Going Home

What makes a place a home? A habitat is the natural environment of an animal, plant or other organism. Ok, but what makes a place a home?

Most of us live in cities now.  Other than brick, wood and a cozy kitchen or bedroom, what is home for you? 

President Theodore Roosevelt visits Yosemite National Park with John Muir, 1903

The first time I visited the Grand Canyon, I was 10 years old.  I loved being there.  I remember hiking a short way down Bright Angel trail and seeing the trains of mules.  I told myself then I wanted to take a mule ride someday.

My family drove across the country in a sedan with no air conditioning pulling an Apache pop-up tent trailer.  We camped and hiked in national parks all across the western states.  But when we got to the Grand Canyon, I felt I was home.

I have yet to take that mule ride, but I have visited the Grand Canyon many times, have hiked Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River and stayed at Phantom Ranch.

John Muir first walked across the San Joaquin Valley in 1868 through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time. Later he would write: “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called no the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light…the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.”

Going to the mountains is going home. – John Muir

I was born in the midwest and live today in Minnesota.  Minnesota is well known for intense winters.  At the other end of the climate spectrum is the Grand Canyon, yet I find it exquisitely beautiful, vista after beautiful vista. The colors of the layers of stone are harmonious and the history is a sweet hum.  The canyon looks different by the moment of the day and the day of the year.  It comforts me knowing that the canyon has changed little in the years since my first visit — my life of however many years compared to the life span of this canyon. Research shows that the canyon may be as many as 17 million years old.

Why is that comforting? What is it about the Grand Canyon that draws me in?  The average person spends about 5 hours at the canyon, seventeen minutes of that time looking at the canyon itself.

17 minutes.

Brooks_Range-400pxBob Marshall reached Alaska and the Brooks Range in 1928 after a short career in the Forest Service.  He settled into a one room cabin in Wiseman, Alaska, furnished with books, records, a phonograph player and a writing desk. His desk looked out over the Koyukuk River and the central Brooks Range. His 15 month stay engendered a great love for these snow-covered mountains in the Alaskan wilderness.

Why is it that we travel to wild places and find that we belong there? Does it mean that we were there before?  Or is it that we resonate with the canyon or the mountains or the highland meadow?  John Muir resonated with the Sierra Nevada and from that connection created the Sierra Club. Bob Marshall climbed peaks of the central Brooks Range, and it became one of his favorite places.

The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit. – Joseph Wood Krutch

Have you ever arrived at a place for the first time and felt at home?  Have you found it to be familiar? That you belonged?  The Grand Canyon is special to me. In our summer family vacations, we visited many parks, yet the South Rim was vivid in my memory.

What places draw you in?  Where in the world do you feel a powerful connection?

Please share with us the places you love best.

Be well 🙂



Photo Credits: A.M. Beaulieu, National Park Service, Wikipedia

Sources: John Muir-Sierra Club Bob Marshall-Wikipedia LiveScience.com

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