Walking on the Edge

The edge of the Grand Canyon was a mere few feet away, and I was torn. Everyone else, it seemed, was walking up to it and posing for pictures. Children ran around with an enormous amount of freedom given that certain death was just a slip of the foot away. And there I stood, camera in hand, desperately wanting to capture the depth of what I saw, yet worried that one minor misstep and over the edge I’d go.

I wasn’t alone. There were others who were skittish of the canyon’s edge. One was a roofer — either professional or amateur, I’m not sure. What was clear is that he knew his way around a roof, yet he was the one in his group most ill at-ease near the canyon’s edge. In response to a little teasing from his friends, he had these words of wisdom: “A roof is only 20 feet up, maybe 24. The fall isn’t going to kill you.”

Another skittish visitor at Guano Point, located along a stretch of the canyon’s west rim located on land owned by the Hualapai Tribe, asked a security guard for advice. This is what he had to say: “As long as you stay six feet away, you can’t go over.” 

Good to know.

Six feet, however, is too far away to get a good sense – much less photos – of the canyon’s depth, so I joined the brave and skirted along the edge. I walked very carefully at first, making sure I’d found a secure foothold before raising my camera and clicking away, desperately trying to capture the contours, the ridges, the sheer magnitude of this twisting, turning, 277-mile hallway that Mother Nature’s glacier-paced bulldozer — the Colorado River – has been digging over the course of millions of years.

Capturing the grandness of the Grand Canyon on film proved to be a challenge. But what I learned in the process is that by staying focused on the one thing, the camera’s lens, the other thing, the fear of walking near the edge, started to wane. It didn’t go away, which, is a good thing given the precipice at my feet, but a sense of sure-footedness returned. That feeling alone was worth the trip.

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