Friday, August 15, 2014

Grand Canyon, Magical Canyon

It would be so very easy to overwork the word magical around here, so maybe I'll use it one more time and then try to give it a rest.

I worked from home on Wednesday. I woke up feeling a little punk, it was raining, and I said to heck with it. I have enough work loaded onto the computer to keep me busy for a long time, and I got more work done than I would have had I gone in.

Being home, too, gave me a better view of the weather than if I'd been at the office. It rained and it rained and fog moved in and out of the trees all day, making me think I was back in the Pacific Northwest. Even so, I kept thinking I should go down to the canyon and see what was happening. I've seen some slides of something called an inversion, a term I'd never heard before, and thought conditions might be ripe for one; that is, where clouds are sunk into the canyon and only the peaks of the formations break through. But it was raaiiinning and I just couldn't work up the motivation to drive five minutes down the road, until it quit raining late in the day. Then of course I kicked myself for not going earlier.

Many people were gathered to watch and were treated to a show of clouds constantly changing and moving through the canyon. There have been many times I've looked at scenery and known, just known, that it would not translate to a decent photo, and this was one of those times. So what follows are my paltry efforts to capture the magic that had people speaking in whispers, almost reverentially. 

At the bottom and off to the right of this first photo is the Transept Canyon, a relatively small box canyon that the Widforss Trail skirts. Fog billowed up from the bottom so continually it was though there was a machine cranking it out.

Then, in a matter of a very few minutes, it cleared.

This scene is just to the left of the one above, with fog streaming along its base.

I didn't expect to see a circular rainbow here but I've seen one before, when I took a aerial tour over a fjord in Alaska. Lots of clouds there too, and I saw this kind of rainbow with the shadow of the plane in its center; that's obviously not a plane, but moi in the middle. Maybe you can see it's actually a double rainbow. Makes me look good, kind of framed in light, doesn't it?

At times the Lodge was completely obscured, a strange, isolating feeling, and then just as they continued to do, the clouds moved on.

Clouds capped the peaks and stayed there for a while, but we still had the drifting patches in a colorful canyon.

I love this phenomenon, just as it happened at Cape Royal, where the setting sun drains the color from almost everywhere but the sky. This is the same formation as the top two photos.

More of the same area, with a look up the Transept Canyon, the source of the fog machine.

I don't see many Grand Canyon sunsets, but I manage to catch spectacular ones when I do.

I mentioned the heavy overcast on Wednesday and its similarity to Pacific Northwest winters. My last couple of winters there were so depressing that the psychotropic drug I've taken for decades wasn't keeping up. On my doctor's recommendation I bought a full-spectrum light box that I sat in front of every day, which made a world of difference in my mood. It further made me think of Robin Williams, that brilliant comedian and actor, and what his depression drove him to do. I've tapped at that door myself and have the utmost compassion for anyone who pounds more heavily on it. 

It can be safely said that if you haven't experienced unrelenting depression you can't understand how it holds you in what I call The Pit, how it drains color from your life, removes all motivation to do the most basic things, and makes you just not care about anything. It can't even be described as a wasteland; there is nothing but a void. There's no pulling oneself up by the bootstraps or thinking happy thoughts or snapping out of it. 

I've lived through my times in The Pit but I couldn't tell you how. Maybe pure luck and it wasn't my day to die. I don't know, but what I do know is the sorrow I feel for those whose despair was so consuming that they couldn't hang on any longer.


Thought of the day:

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. - Lao Tzu