The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. – Albert Einstein

A novice in adventure travel, I spend several months preparing for a 226-mile raft trip down the Colorado River. Physical conditioning, first aid tutorials, travel gear, and countless books and pamphlets cannot fully prepare me for what I experience in the magical and majestic landscape of The Grand Canyon.

Floating on the river through a radiant gorge carved in the skin of the earth, I gaze into the abyss with overwhelming emotion, question and intrigue. A guide explains how the science of geology is used in the telling of time, the findings of fossils, the rich archeological record, and talks about the hundreds of species of plants and animals inhabiting what first appears as a harsh and inhospitable world. The Grand Canyon may not be the deepest or the widest river valley in the world, but it has the greatest combination of exposed bedrock and geologic structure. The river drops as it runs and traveling down its sinuous length is like taking a journey back 2 billion years as the planet’s history is revealed the deeper and further I travel.

I explore the canyon’s depths to get a view of its splendor. I photograph shapes and textures of layer upon layer of sedimentary rocks that have been exposed and molded by rushing water, wind and ice, and grown hard over time. I follow pathways dotted with wildflowers and blooming cacti, and squeeze between rock walls to hidden waterfalls and desert pools. Around each corner lies a treasure just waiting to be discovered. As I marvel at this timeless landscape that is constantly changing, however slowly, however relentlessly, I feel my own insignificance in the world, and at the same time the magnificence of nature leaves me with a remarkable sense of time, place and meaning.