One of the million crazy things about the Grand Canyon is that it’s not really a single canyon at all, but rather an incredibly vast fractal network of canyons whose precise borders are difficult to define.
The Grandness Keeps On Going
Sure, there is substantial widening along the Colorado River’s flow south of 36.32 degrees latitude, but even above this point, a trio of canyoneers disappears like as many neutrinos whizzing through the incomprehensible vastness of the cosmos. Were you to walk upstream from the place where South Kaibab bottoms out, say, I really doubt you’d feel like you’d left the grandness behind until you smacked into the Glen Canyon Dam.
The same would go for jaunts up any of the side canyons hewn by tributaries to the Colorado. When the Colorado Plateau was uplifted some 70 million years ago during the Laramide Orogeny, a lot of serious digging was done by a lot of seriously swift water. As I’ve come to learn, there are endless vertical adventures to be had in the resulting gorges and gullies and chasms off the “main drag.” ‘Round these parts, geologic grandness is everywhere, mind-blowing grandness — grandness that’s begging to be explored.
Just north of the National Park boundary, along Highway 89A, there’s a splendid rut known as Badger Canyon. Having crawled through Cave of the Domes to our hearts’ content last weekend, Mag, Nick and I headed here to satiate our desire to pull out the ropes and do some repelling. Badger’s a perfect example of a grand canyon that’s not officially part of the Grand Canyon. By the time you bottom out and run into the Colorado River, you’re surrounded on all sides by limestone cliffs towering 1,000 feet above you.
Normally, I would avoid canyoneering in the dead of winter, but unusually dry and warm conditions meant that we were able to avoid frigid baptisms in slots and sinkholes. This was a good thing considering how dark it was when we finally found the harrowing route back to the rim. (Temperatures really drop out here once the sun goes down, and bright as it is, the Milky Way doesn’t give off much heat.) Here are a few photos from the day:
- Exploring The Grand Canyon’s Fractal Dimensions (Farther Still)
- Drawing Lines Between Graffiti And Cultural Treasures (Farther Still)
- Badger Canyon (Feet Of Steele)
(All of today’s photos are courtesy of Mag Kim.)