The Hundredth Meridian

The Geology of Time

Atop the final ridge rising to the south rim, Tom Hart stopped the truck and sat behind the wheel, gazing over into the meandering trench stretching from west to east and across it to the line of blue mountains over 40 miles away.  It had been his first sight of the canyon when his family moved down there from Roosevelt 46 years before, when he was five-and-a-half years old, and Tom wanted very much to see it now precisely as he remembered seeing it then.  Again it was mid-afternoon of a day in mid-June, the sun tracking far north on its unhurried descent to the horizon, its long rays slanting between the thunderheads toward the dark pinyon-juniper forest surmounting the cream-colored caprock.  Again the white dust beyond the green cattle-guard was blinding to his eyes; again the road ahead plunged steeply down through sagebrush, wound a turn or two above the dry wash, and lost itself in time and memory behind an intervening gravel cliff.  Even the road sign immediately beyond the guard was as he remembered it, excepting only the newer bullet holes perforating the black arrow-squiggle on a faded yellow background and the warning notice, STEEP DESCENT NEXT SIX MILES.

At the first of the big benches, the wooden government sign indicating the two-track over to Sand Wash on the Green River, though splintered and faded, remained intact after five years.  A couple of miles down, above the start of the redwall, the...

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