“Lucky you,” is what the young’uns say to us old farts who knew Glen Canyon before it was sloshed off the maps under Powell Reservoir. After which act of vandalism we were not lucky at all—except for what it gave us to remember for the rest of our lives. That exception is what keeps us on track to help you see and feel some of the same magic we knew.
The Colorado River there, locked in the embrace of over one hundred side canyons, drew a cluster of people who sought the beautiful, peaceful, untamed and lonely. Of those it drew, it kept a few who learned to communicate with it and with each other. It taught us love for a place–love far beyond the ability to express our emotion to others. Despite all efforts to the contrary, no words, no photographs, no sound could do justice to our feeling for The Place. We took pictures; we wrote, we sang, we talked; shared stories, adventure, and discovery with one other. But in the end, we’d look into each other’s eyes with palms up, words stopped in mid air, mouths agape, unable to explain the final mystery of The Place We Knew–a place that swelled our hearts to breaking.
The Final Mystery
Can I explain it now, forty six years later? No. That Canyon with its River became my harbor in a storm, my spiritual alcove, my teacher, and finally, my mate. What it made me realize was that others following in my wake could not only use, but would need, the same kind of harbor for their spirit; need it even more than I; what with the frantic population acceleration and creeping destruction of such havens as The Place We Knew.
Where will you go? What will you find? Whatever it is, and wherever, keep it to yourself. The sooner someone else finds your sanctuary, the sooner it will be gone, and for reasons you cannot accept or even fathom. Somehow you may find one of Mother Nature’s treasures, one she has allowed you to share. Accept that you’ve been chosen; go lightly, observe intently, ingest the wisdom of the rock, the stream, the trees, the lichen, the sand, the river. Fight to keep it for yourself, for those who care and for those who come after you. But remember, if it is destroyed (maybe because you did nothing to help save it ) you may still have it locked in your soul where no one can touch it. You have taken that special place with you, absorbed it through all you senses and it is yours forever.
Then…and only then, can you tell the despoilers to go to hell!
The Place We Knew. In a way that makes us sound like we had the very best of something the rest of you will never know. And it’s true…up to now. I don’t expect it to be true in half a century. Glen Canyon and its living river is returning sooner than many of us expected. So if you are in your twenties or thirties, more than likely, you could come to know The Place We Knew in your lifetime.