10 May 2008
Grand Canyon, AZ—
In AC/DC’s 1976 classic “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” the late Bon Scott gleefully lists a handful of his favorite methods for ridding his clients of their enemies, including concrete shoes, cyanide, and TNT. He makes no mention of the Grand Canyon, probably because its Arizona location is geographically inconvenient for an Australian like him. But boy was he missing an opportunity.
Most people who visit the Grand Canyon are stricken by its arresting natural beauty, and there can be no question that I am among them. Its history, shapes, colors, textures, and—most importantly—its scale slackened my jaw like nothing in memories recent or distant. However, upon reflection, it’s the canyon’s relationship with its visitors’ mortality that I find most compelling. Here is essentially an insensate hole in the ground that has claimed hundreds of victims, almost all of them lulled into its famously dangerous depths by what amounts to a Siren song.
I can attest to it being quite a song.
Wayne and I hiked the South Kaibab Trail down to Cedar Ridge for a manageable round trip of about three miles and a descent of 1,140 feet below the canyon’s south rim. Less than a quarter of the distance to the bottom, our little hike barely registered a blip on the canyon’s massive radar. It was a great way to feel insignificant in the best way possible, to better recognize how tenuous our hold on life really is, and to keep the sunscreen people in business. Next time, I’ll be camping by the Colorado River at the bottom.