Imagine our delight when daylight reveals Glen Canyon in all its glory, a scene only nature can paint, filling our picture window. Retracing our inky black path from last night, we head out in bright sunshine to meet Edmonia, Allison, and Alex, National Park Rangers, at Lees Ferry.

We begin to understand the pioneers who came west.  Edmonia shares stories of early settlers like the Lee family who failed at mining for coal and gold, and the Johnson family who planted orchards of peaches, almonds, apricots, plums, apples, pears, fig, nectarines, and quince, which we learn taste like sour apples x10! Looking up at the steep canyon wall, it’s almost impossible to believe settlers with mule-driven wagons managed to ascend to the top on such a narrow and treacherous trail.

In keeping with our philosophy to give back to our communities, The Phoenix School EarlyAct Club springs into action.  As we watch Colorado River rafters run the rapids, we pick up beach trash to keep the park pristine. Alongside rapids to the placid bay, we wander, plucking every unnatural item from the ground. We are proud to be official National Park volunteers today.

With insider information from Edmonia, we head to Navajo Bridge where we might see California Condors who sometimes sit under the bridge waiting for morning air to warm so they can catch thermals allowing them to soar high in their search for carrion. We are incredibly lucky today! Three condors perch contentedly under the bridge, in plain sight.  We take advantage of tables nearby to work on journals when the condors take flight and circle near enough that it feels as if we can reach out and touch their gigantic wings. What a treat to see such immense and impressive raptors so close.

Horseshoe Bend leaves us in awe. It is almost indescribable. We do our best to communicate what we felt at our first glimpse.

Arlo: Following craggy cliffs down from their sandy surfaces only barely puts into perspective the daunting and deceiving size of the curved gorge.

Alfie: Colorado River tranquility surrounds colossal layers of history

Sattva: Trees look like bushes, people look like ants

Levi: Imposing with high jagged rocks

Fiona: I thought the pictures were impressive, but now looking at the true sight, I realized I missed many details; the layers, the people, and literally the elephant in the room, the size of the canyon walls.

Gavin:  Its scale is confusing and awe-inspiring.

Audrey: Copper rocks create a foundation so large it feels like the pictures we have seen before became reality. Droplets of water push each other along, moving as one, creating the distinct shape of Horseshoe bend

Mira: Massive fiery orange rocks encase a slow spiraling river as I watch from above….I am in awe.

Paul:  A place so vast that humans are ants

James: Not even on the same planet anymore

Mike: beyond the pictures

Dave: doesn’t even look real

What will tomorrow bring?