From the blackness of night, with no depth to anything, the first rays of morning light over Mexico’s Copper Canyon are a revelation. They play with the rocks, painting them bluish pink and orange and golden yellow, a moving canvass without borders.
If the Copper Canyon were in the United States it would be featured in every Outside Magazine ever published. Wider, deeper and longer than the famed Grand Canyon, its features would garner pages of Trip Advisor reviews and tweets and Facebook Pages. How many people “Like” Copper Canyon? Of course if it were in the US, it wouldn’t be as special, as hidden, and as personally rewarding to explore.
The air was chilly (this was winter at 7,000 feet above sea level) and the morning fog filled the canyon like sheets of cotton. From my balcony overlooking the canyon I could see a Tarahumara home, a plywood shack. There were a few car parts strewn around, but no car. Two small children walked out and gathered up sacks of brightly colored cloth filled with the woven baskets and bowls made by their mother or grandmother. Soon they would be at the hotel lobby to sell their wares. This is every day for them.
Dogs barked for breakfast. A rooster crowed.
Two rooms away, a door slid open. A gray haired tourist stepped out onto the balcony and looked down at the Tarahumara home and the expanse of the canyon.
“Incredible,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life.”
He took a few breaths, deep and more befitting a youthful yoga student, and his arms spread to embrace the view. After a few more breaths he returned to his room, leaving the door open to allow the cool breeze to fill the space. I wondered how it came to be that at twenty two years old (and then again at 32) I had been fortunate enough to see something that had taken this man seventy. Fog continued to flow through the canyon.
Soon I went for a hike and, had John Muir been there he would have agreed that, the walk along the canyon rim was more like a journey within. Sunrise in Copper Canyon.