Whether I was drawn here initially by sheer luck, skin walkers, or crystal vortices I am not sure. What is important is that I am still wandering the desert, floating down rivers, and hiding in the shade during the height of summer – this place has slowly carved a chasm in my soul. There is something about the timelessness and ruggedness of this place: in the rocks from a time when no life existed on earth, in the mysterious drawings left on cliff walls and boulders, in the juniper trees that burst forth from cracks in the rock, or when a thunderstorm turns the desert into a series of rivers and waterfalls.
I have learned to read the canyon walls as books that tell stories of otherworldly landscapes in their leaves: shallow azure seas that teemed with life, towering crimson sand dunes, volcanic eruptions that leveled coniferous forests, a supercontinent that spanned half the globe, or one small waterhole that dinosaurs frequented. It is a monument to cycles spanning time frames that are incomprehensible to us. In the depths of the canyons at night I often imagine myself hurtling through space amidst the shimmering sea of galaxies as a mere speck on a speck. In those moments I feel completely free.
I have come to feel a bond with others that have lived and died here over thousands of years. Those that have farmed these river bottoms, hunted game along these creeks, roamed these vast expanses, and boldly run these rivers. In untold numbers of canyons I have crouched on my hands and knees to marvel at the still visible finger prints of people in the mud of granaries, examine desiccated corncobs, and compare my own hands to the white outlines others left on the walls. I ceaselessly ponder the figures crowned with horns, wraith-like figures that fade into the rocks, the spirals winding into nothingness, and the big horn sheep dancing across the patina of desert varnish. I cannot explore or read enough. Each alcove and ledge offers the possibility of the unknown, and each additional visit a chance to put together another piece of the riddle.
Traveling here can be difficult, but the rewards of being swallowed by the canyons are immense. Others since time immemorial have sat along the shore of the river and looked out at the vultures soaring along the cliffs with wonder, gazed with awe at the bighorn sheep living out their lives on crumbling vertical ledges, and have tried to decipher the ceaseless murmurings of the river cutting through this land of stone. It will change you. I learned to see what is written in the canyons and sky because one man was so enraptured by these places that he spent his life sharing them with others.