It snowed furiously the night before I stepped over the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was mid-May, so the snow was wet and slushy, not dry enough to stick. But the moisture stained the soft soil at the trailhead a dove gray and spiced the air with the scent of ponderosa pine. The trail I was following, the New Hance, didn't dawdle but marched directly to the canyon's edge, took a sharp turn,then plunged straight downhill, a no-nonsense approach to reaching its destination: the bottom of the canyon and the banks of the Colorado River nearly a vertical mile below.
Someone in a hurry had made this trail, I thought, as I braced each jarring step with my trekking poles; someone eager to get past the red-orange terraces rising in tiers above the river, to get down to the sandy beaches at the water's edge. Someone eager to reach home.