The Grand Canyon: A Majestic Walk Through Time

  • 18

The Grand Canyon: A Majestic Walk Through Time

Tags : 

Please share this post!

switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail give some perspective of the hike

I’m writing today as a contributor to the Christian Writers Blog Chain. Our theme for the month of August is Majestic. is an excellent place to network if you’re a Christian writer or author.

Walking from rim to river to rim at the Grand Canyon is a bucket list kind of experience. As a geology student it was the most majestic walk through time that one could imagine. During this walk we had a lot of time to think… and, for me, I was thinking a lot about history. On that day I walked past 3.6 billion years of it… 1.8 billion years on the way down from the north rim to the Colorado River, and 1.8 billion years on the return trip.

I remember actually first thinking in this context of “walking through history” earlier in our 10-day road trip through the 4 corners. Somewhere outside of Colorado Springs we stopped at a road cut with Dr. Jones (that would be Doug Jones, not Indiana or Dick either!). Jones (yep, that’s what we called him!) literally walked us through time on the road cut… and I could envision the passing of time as we talked about the fossils… environments of deposition… and, of course, whether we would be stopping in Vegas later on the trip (for some reason this kept coming up in nearly all conversations).

Several stops later we were at “the big ditch” … nope, not glitter gulch (we never made it there!)… but the most majestic place I can come up with, the Grand Canyon.

This was the last canyon of our road trip. Jones saved the best for last. It was breathtaking! We camped out that night and planned an excursion to the river and back for anyone who dared to venture out early. We left at daylight. The north rim is known for being a more difficult hike than the south. We were not discouraged.

Rim to River was a cake walk. All downhill. Just over two hours for this eager Geo-nerd.

Heading down the trail the stratigraphic rock units bearing legendary Indian names passed by pretty quickly…

sign?? ... what sign?? (photo courtesy of Jim Dvorak)

Kaibab Formation, Toroweap Formation, Coconino Sandstone, Hermit Formation, Supai Group, Redwall Limestone, Temple Butte Formation, Muav Limestone, Bright Angel Shale, Tapeats Sandstone, Grand Canyon Supergroup, and the Vishnu Basement Rocks.

The views were breathtaking… so beautiful I struggle to find the words to describe. I’ve been to some pretty cool places and this one is beyond comparison.

I reached the Colorado River with Mike McCoy in a little over two hours and took a brief dip to cool off and refresh. I thought about the journey ahead and was anxious to get started, not certain how it was going to go.

Up the trail I went…

The Vishnu Basement… some 1.8 Billion Years Old… the oldest exposed rocks in the Grand Canyon… that’s a long time ago!

The rock units sure did pass by more slowly this time around…

Grand Canyon Supergroup (1,250 – 740 million years old)…

yowza, I am a long way from the top!

Tapeats Sandstone…

more time to think about this place now…

how did this place get here?

are these rocks really that old?

Bright Angel Shale (515 million years old)

was there an angel involved in all of this?

Muav Limestone (505 million years old)

yes, it’s really spelled Muav!

Temple Butte Formation (385 million years old)

switchbacks in the trail…

long walk…

gettin’ rough…

Redwall Limestone (340 million years old)

so this trial we shared with mule…

I wish I had a mule right about now…

instead I’m walking and watching out for mule droppings…

Supai Group (315 – 285 million years old)…

more switchbacks…

Hermit Formation (280 million years old)…

and mules…

Coconino Sandstone (275 million years old)…


Toroweap Formation (273 million years old)…

almost there…

Kaibab Formation (270 million years old)…

I can see the rock wagons!!!

Then, after all of that, something else happened. Really, the rocks themselves are legendary but it was what happened after their deposition that created this place.

The Laramide Orogeny. This is the major mountain building event that created the rocky mountains, and uplifted the area an estimated 2 vertical miles…

The Laramide Orogeny occurred just 75 million years ago…

and, finally, the carving out of this majestic place by the mighty Colorado River.

All I can say is WoW !!!

And, for me, one question remains…

Did it really happen all on its own, or should I thank God for making this earth perfectly, majestically round instead of simply boring and flat?

I’m awed, amazed and very thankful.

Christian Writers Blog Chain

Going Places is the blog series focusing on where God is leading us. It may include travel destinations, but doesn’t have to. This series is open to guest bloggers. If you would like to submit a guest post please contact me.




August 11, 2011at 1:59 pm

Good post!

I’ve wanted to travel to the Grand Canyon for sometime, and if what I saw last year out in the Pacific Northwest is any indication…it would probably be hard to capture the true majesty of it in pictures alone. I tried taking pictures of mountains and the Columbia River valley last year (as you approach on Interstate 90) but it was still more stunning in person.

    chris vonada

    August 11, 2011at 6:48 pm

    I agree Michael, the pictures are pretty cool but actually seeing something like this is hard to imagine until you’ve been there, done that… I hear the Pacific Northwest is absolutely breathtaking.

Tracy Krauss

August 11, 2011at 2:41 pm

I truly enjoyed reading this post. I visited the Grand Canyon once about 13 years ago. It was very ‘majestic’ and certainly awe inspiring!

    chris vonada

    August 11, 2011at 6:48 pm

    Thanks Tracy!!

Carol Peterson

August 11, 2011at 6:55 pm

What fun to go to the Grand Canyon with a GEOLOGIST! Thanks for the guide, Chris. Majestic, it is!

    chris vonada

    August 12, 2011at 5:34 am

    Hoping that Doug had a chance to read it too, Happy B-day to him again!!


August 11, 2011at 10:26 pm

Loved it Chris!!! Thank you for sharing your adventure to one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. It has been years since my family visited the canyon, but we just camped there not venturing to the bottom. I can still remember it’s wonder and majestic all these years later. I hope to one day venture to the bottom and see the sites you mentioned. Blessings and glad you made it back…LOL

    chris vonada

    August 12, 2011at 5:34 am

    Terrie, consider the mule or the helicopter ride too 🙂

Chris Henderson

August 11, 2011at 11:50 pm

What a wonderful experience! I’ve just seen the Grand Canyon from the ledge and from the air in a helicopter. I’m in awe that you did the hike. No picture can ever really show the true majesty of the canyon better than being there.

    chris vonada

    August 12, 2011at 5:35 am

    Thanks Chris, I appreciate you sharing here !!


August 13, 2011at 2:20 pm

What an experience that must have been! It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Thanks for sharing that with us!

Traci B

August 15, 2011at 9:38 am

Never been to the Grand Canyon; hope to visit some day. If I do, I’ll keep your post in mind – and train like crazy ahead of time! 😉

    chris vonada

    August 15, 2011at 3:17 pm

    Look forward to reading about your visit there Traci !

Lynn Mosher

August 15, 2011at 7:41 pm

Wow! What a great trip through the Canyon. Have always wanted to go. Thanks so much for this, Chris! Enjoyed it!

Cindee Snider Re

August 15, 2011at 11:12 pm

Chris, thank you for a breathtaking trip down, in, and back up the Grand Canyon. My grandmother and her sister — at 74 and 73 rubber rafted down the Colorado River, camping along the way no less, and then against the stern warning of the guide, she slid over the side of the raft and into the water (on purpose!) to swim the rapids. I will never forget her photos or her stories! One day, I hope to hike there myself. 🙂

    chris vonada

    August 16, 2011at 11:25 am

    that is too funny, I can only hope to be whitewater rafting in my 70’s and then having the gumption to body surf the rapids! Thanks Cindee!!

Scott Fields

August 20, 2011at 12:10 am

Thanks for sharing the journey, Chris. That’s quite a stretch of time you walked there. (I love the “1.8 down, 1.8 up” bit!) I know the answer to your last question . . . but I don’t wanna give away the answer, so I’ll let you figure it out for yourself. 😉

This was a great post. Really well structured. Nicely layered. Rich deposits of information. Basically, a guy following in the footsteps of his Creator—and what higher (or more august) calling could there be?

    chris vonada

    August 20, 2011at 4:58 pm

    Thank you Scott 🙂

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Search This Site

The Chimp will deliver all the deets to your email inbox – you’ll never miss a beat!!

“I Twitter”

Kindle Paperwhite

The best device for reading, period.

My books are for sale at Amazon... giddy up and head on over to my author page to pick them up!