Right off the bat, I fell in love with the landscape of Northern Arizona. Covered with a dusting of fresh snow, Mount Humphreys stood guard over my new home, providing a constant presence that rejuvenated my sense of adventure. A thick forest of Ponderosa Pines towered over my home, and provided the opportunity to get lost every afternoon. Most significantly, in less than two hours, I could stand at the edge of one of the natural wonders of this incredible world – the Grand Canyon.
On my first river trip back in 2012, one of my river guides said something that stuck with me. Though I don’t remember his words verbatim, he said something along the lines of, “Grand Canyon changes you, it gets in your blood and becomes a part of who you are.” I didn’t understand what he meant. Or rather I didn’t understand how what he said could be true. There are so many unbelievable places on this planet, how can one giant ditch be so pivotal to a persons life?
It took three trips down the Colorado River for me to finally understand. For the fine sand of Grand Canyon campsites to penetrate my thick Midwestern skin. But I feel now that I finally get it, because the closer I get to leaving this place, the more conflict I feel. I can’t help but think I will be back someday, if only to satisfy that innate desire that resides in all of us. The desire to be in awe of something larger than ourselves.
What surprised me most about this experience, is that the substance of this feeling isn’t just a breathtaking Canyon, but the community that calls it home. Never before in my life have I been surrounded by such a fun-loving, talented, and welcoming cluster of humans. A group of individuals that have found in themselves a passion for a place, and have done everything in their power to make that place the cornerstone of their lives. There is something to be said, something contagious, about the way they live, and the way they share it with others. I am grateful to have witnessed it.
With all that being said, I want to take a moment in my last blog post as an employee of Grand Canyon Whitewater, to express my endless gratitude for this opportunity and my sincere admiration for this company. I’m convinced that few organizations exist that can rival the sense of support and family you have cultivated in this place. From ownership down, you have set a standard of employment I am concerned I may never find again. Thank you. In just a few days, I will once again fill my car to the brim and start driving. I can only hope that my next adventure will stand to compare what I found here in Flagstaff!
– Evan Zachmann