The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon was not always how I'd expected it to be. For one, it was cold. Of course I was there in the winter, but still the amount of snow and ice surprised me.
By May, when the desert started feeling hot and dry like I'd thought it would, the cactus flowers and California redbud were in bloom, then the cottonwood trees grew leaves. All of that made me think of the canyon as a lush oasis.
But my perception of Grand Canyon as verdant was limited by my experience. On the trail crew, I was stationed at Indian Garden, where a creek flows between massive cottonwood trees, making that place feel temperate and watered. We were building log stairs along the trails, less than a mile from the Colorado River, the sight of which again served as a constant reminder of how much water that desert sees pass by.
Our worksite spent a good portion of the day in the shade of that narrow canyon within the canyon. With a dripping spring nearby the job site, a wall of yellow columbines towering over a pool at the base that was sprouting with red monkey flower, I think I can be excused for looking back at that corner of the desert as a deceiving sort of desert. Despite those scenes of a watered desert, it will still forever maintain the harsh veneer of sunshine and dry air that the scorpions and lizards need and those rim-to-rim hikers, who don't have time to stop in the shade and investigate the incongruous sound of dripping water, suffer through.