We interrupt this week’s normal agenda with the winning entries in our world’s most inspirational place contest. Today’s entry is by long-time STE community member JoAnna Haugen. You might remember her as she was one of our interviewee guests in September. She will win a Odyssey travel guide of her choice courtesy of our sponsors. Congrats JoAnna!
I pulled my fleece Care Bear hat over my ears and kicked the snow from the toes of my hiking boots. My husband, Cory, knelt knee-deep in the powder, poised to take a picture of the glittery pristine path in front of us. Nearly eight inches had fallen last night on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
While Cory angled to get the right shot with the setting sun falling behind the trees, I gazed out over the canyon itself. The North Rim, some twenty or so miles away by foot, had an icy glaze over it, and at nearly 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim, there was undoubtedly more snow there than where we stood. Having avoided snow since moving from the Midwest, I recognized the strong chill up my back that used to drive me to drink gallons of hot chocolate throughout the winter months. But this was right; this was what Christmas should look like.
I pursed my lips and slowly breathed out. My breath made a thin line that widened and blew away in the breeze. On this portion of the path, hiking west from Pipe Creek Vista to Mather’s Point, we were engulfed in a swarm of trees with occasional overlooks of the Grand Canyon itself. It was off the plowed road and a hefty haul away from any transportation outlet that we found the beauty and solitude we’d come looking for. For hours we’d wandered along the rim’s path, crunching our way through foot-deep snow and talking in voices just barely above a whisper. We rested with three deer basking in the sun and watched people creep their way down steep trails into the canyon. From our viewpoint, alone and uninterrupted, we pointed out unusual trees and rock formations, traced the route we’d like to take through the Grand Canyon someday and held hands as we wandered through the winter wonderland perched on the edge of one of the world’s most spectacular natural sites.
As the late afternoon’s rays painted the canyon a stunning red with golden hints, I pulled my thumbs into the warm core of my mittens. The quiet click of the camera’s dial and then the slight whir as Cory took the picture of the lonely path were the only sounds that filled the still air out here. I blew another thin line of icy breath into the cold air. The sun dipped below the trees behind me and for one disillusioned moment, I expected the shadows from the South Rim to reflect across the wide gap before me onto the North Rim. The colorful collage that played out before me looked like a painting. Cory stood next to me and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. The snow crystals shimmered in the dimming light.
Photo by JoAnna, logos courtesy of their respective brands.