National Geographic : 1978 Jul
park status. Thirty-eight years ago he be came the 70th person to run the river. He and Congressman Morris Udall spon sored bills that almost doubled the park to its present 1,218,375 acres in 1975. Ironically, a decade earlier both had sought to back up the river in the added areas with the Marble Canyon and Huala pai Dams. A tenacious battle led by the Sier ra Club stopped construction. Now both men are opposed to dams in the canyon. Goldwater admits that of all his Senate votes, the one he most regrets was the one for Glen Canyon Dam. I RETREATED from the crowded hotel lobby to the overlook from which I had first seen the canyon. I've seen it often since. The magic never fades. But like a first love the first visit can never be repeat ed-and nothing can prepare you for it. Forested slopes leading to the rims give no warning. As you walk the last few feet, the world suddenly slides away, leaving you hovering uncertainly over a forbidding abyss. It's as if nature has carved a monu ment to itself-a majestic phenomenon that hushes all but the most insensitive. Gravity pulls at your soul. Your mind reaches for something familiar. Distance, depth, and time seem infinite. You sense more than see an opposite rim far away. In gaudy rock layers the skeleton of the earth lies exposed. Without being told, you know that down there lie answers to ques tions about the birth of the earth. Light and shadows flow among towering buttes in perpetual slow motion with no two moments alike-ever. When the weather's at its worst, the drama's at its best. After noon storms fester around sun-warmed buttes and rumble from valley to valley. Lightning stabs at the peaks-sometimes in crisp white thrusts, sometimes as flickers be hind curtains of mist. The spectacle frightens some people. I Put into perspective, a visitor hikes into the narrowing cleft of Fern Glen Canyon. Accessible from the river, side canyons offer springs and microhabitats that husband bursts of greenery, from primroses to orchids.