In September of 1540 Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, while being led by Hopi Natives, came across something no European had ever seen before. One can only imagine what must have gone through his mind as he discovered the world’s largest canyon, 18 miles across and close to 6,000 feet deep. Over the course of three days, Garcia and his scouts made attempts to enter into the canyon and to taste of its river, but, after many failed attempts, they had to make their way back to their main camp for fear of dehydration and it was left unvisited by any Europeans for over 200 years.
Now I wasn’t the first one to discover the canyon, but I remember a time when I was in the fourth grade. When I stepped out of a bus that I had been in for close to four hours and took forty footsteps to end up at a small brick wall that came close to calf-height which was meant to keep me safe. I don’t know why it didn’t hit me until this point, because I had seen pictures of its grandeur and “experienced” the so called “majesty” of the Grand Canyon through the medium of the National Geographic and tasted of the beauty of one of the natural wonders of the world through the photographs of others before, but standing face to face with a five-thousand-foot cliff humbled me and brought a fear in to me that I can’t describe. Especially when a friend of mine had violently jerked me while I was close to the edge. I remember hearing fear in my father’s voice as I got a little too close to the edge for his comfort. He wanted me to be safe, but I wanted to look this canyon in the eye.
I find it really interesting though, that both my father and I feared ME getting close to the edge. I guess it’s because we both didn’t fully trust my young and feeble knees to keep me stable while I was that close to a fall that would’ve meant sure death for me. Or maybe it was because a couple of months before this, he had seen on the news that some kid was playing too close to the edge and had fallen to his death. Or maybe, it was because, for the first time, death was actually close enough to grasp something he profoundly loved. Either way, I won’t ever forget the loving strain in his voice as he sternly said “Grant! Step a little bit further back from the edge Son.”
It’s really a shame that no one knew. Or at least that no one said anything if they did know. Especially because this New canyon I stood looking face to face with was thousands of feet deeper than the one I had been close to the edge of ten years before, and had the authority to not just kill me once, but twice, if I fell.