It’s called Vishnu Schist. It’s estimated at 1.8-2.2 BILLION years old. It was waiting for me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
It’s black–black as tar-covered ravens in a coal mine at midnight. It’s shiny. At river’s edge, it’s fluted into perforated columns I wanted to climb into.
This was, of course, impossible, because A) I was paddling past the schist with 6 other people, and B) since the air temperature was around 115 degrees, the schist would have branded me all over.
Still, what a way to go.
Know what else is amazing about schist, aside from its age and its looks? It’s made from metamorphosed limestone. Think about it: WHITE rock created from the bodies of once-LIVING sea creatures turns, with enough time and heat and pressure, into this:
There’s even a word for that shine: “schistocity.”
Talk about a metaphor that rocks!
There are other rocks in Grand Canyon to love, and I will write more about them in the coming days. But right now I’m still reveling in the memories of that sleek, black, geological poetry.
During the next two weeks, I’m planning to drop out of sight. Also sound. And touch.
I’m going back down into Grand Canyon with The Mate, Son Two, and some friends. The only things I plan to see, hear and feel are red rocks and stars; canyon wrens and rushing rapids; and hot sun and dousings of cold river water.
This will be the third time down the river for my Mate and I, but the first time down the lower half. Both previous trips–one in 1989, one in 2004– involved putting in way up where the canyon walls are only 100 feet high, rafting for 6 days, then hiking out of the canyon’s deepest point, up this:
The Bright Angel Trail.
In fact, both previous trips involved hiking the 7.5 miles in full summer sun carrying the extra gear of friends who had been scorpion-stung, or were suffering from heat exhaustion, or both. Not the pleasantest way to end such an epic excursion. This trip? We’re hiking DOWN the Bright Angel. I. Can’t. Wait.
Now if only I could stay there until after the first Tuesday in November…