Never in my life had I seen so many stars as I did that night camped out at Indian Gardens, perched midway between the Colorado River and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. As usual, I couldn’t sleep. A handful of loud Aussie college kids and a large Chinese family kept the noise level pretty high for wintertime here, though I managed to keep them all a few campsites away with my wild, unshaven look. My new tent had a little plastic window. I peeked out and beheld a nightscape blushing in white light. I slipped on my boots and slipped outside. The crescent moon, filtered through a vague halo, beamed like some newly known bioluminescent creature from the deep. The moon rinsed stream-fed cottonwoods marble white, painting their towering, crisp shadows on the uneven, rock-dotted ground. And stars hooked themselves onto the asterisk arms of other stars.
Mesas watching with me cast half-mile specters on the vertical redwall silhouettes of other ramparts. Subdued ivory beams liberated the monoliths from the blackness. And the sandy cottonwoods now seemed like tropical palms on a South Sea beach. On the South Rim, the twinkling lights of Grand Canyon Village melded in with the stars. The village lights were their own constellation, floating above the rimrock.
It’s funny how one moment pays for a whole trip. I’d been fatigued and sick and cold and more than once wished I was home in my comfortable bed. But these few moments with sky changed my mind.
After I finished scribbling this down in my tent under a flashlight with a bad ‘off’ button, I closed down my writer’s studio and stepped outside again. Unremitting black. Show over. The moon had drifted behind the South Rim. Only the lights of Grand Canyon Village kept me company now.
© 2015 by Michael C. Just