The Glow of Silence - Lost at Bighorn Canyon.

November 15, 2018

Bighorn Canyon
YEAH to freedom!

When I step outside of the house, it is so cold that my nose almost falls off. I can barely hold on to it and pull my rainbow hat deep into my eyes. My American friend had to borrow me one of his hats because I lost my own in Germany and it can get damn cold in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of Octobe.

 

By the way, I always lose something. On this day, above all, my mind. In a place that spoke to me without saying a word.

I'm telling you about the roaring silence of Bighorn Canyon, about soulmates, infinity and moments that change your entire life silently

 

And yes. I froze my ass off without a hat and jacket for this photo - just to look cool.

Heart over head through Wyoming

Way from Cody to Bighorn Mountains
Mountains like elephants

We're in the car and I try not to complain about the cold weather. Because that always causes my caring friend to turn on the heater and makes me feel like a sissy. I want to resist the wintry autumn in Wyoming with a real cowboy-attitude by not even twinkling once. My eyelid flutters because I'm lying.

We leave his small town with the wooden houses and the swinging traffic lights over the wide streets. And follow the road right into the countryside.

 

Countryside - they have a hell of a lot of that in Wyoming. This State has the second lowest density of population in the USA, only topped by Alaska. The gray asphalt with the yellow center stripe runs through the landscape like petrified lava. And my heart jumps through the windshield because I can't hold it back anymore. I love this country. I already felt something very special at this place on my big trip last year and coming back has not made it any better. Dark clouds are scattered all over the steel-blue sky and mountain peaks tear the horizon apart.

There's no Place like Home

Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area
Land of the red rocks
It's a three-hour drive from the city where my friend lives to the Bighorn Canyon. But driving through Wyoming for three hours is as enjoyable as munching on wonderful chocolate for three hours. Just that it does not upset your stomach so much.
Close to the entrance of the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area the rocks turn red. I had always thought red rocks were are phenomenon of the Southern US States only, but I obviously had no clue. The rock formations pile up like mousse pudding, with gnarled bushes and tiny yellow flowers in between. With wide open spaces. There is not a single body out here!
As we get out of the car, I want to spread out my arms and shout. And never stop. It is a feeling that is hard to describe. The feeling that you have finally arrived somewhere in your life. Where you have always belonged and just didn't know. Not at McDonald's or the restroom, but somewhere deep inside yourself. I could sit on the road for hours and watch that one single blade of grass that tries to resist the strong wind and is attacked by it over and over again.

Let's jump into the canyon

Bighorn Canyon
See the wonderful green water at Bighorn Canyon
Then we move on to Bighorn Canyon. A gaping cleft that tears the area apart. To be honest, there are tons of canyons all across the United States. You can not know and see them all. Most tourists in Wyoming come to see the world-famous Yellowstone National Park. Almost nobody has heard of Bighorn Canyon. Me included. So I am wondering if this is "just another canyon".
But when I see the deep gorge with the light green water for the first time, I am completely blown away. The rippled light is refracted like a million stars. I jump along the fence like a kid, pointing breathlessly at the unbelievable beauty in front of me. I almost find no words.
"So what do you think?" my friend asks.
I try to think straight for a moment. "I think that I would like to jump right down to express how excited and amazed I feel. It is truly overwhelming."
Of course I'm not jumping. I forgot my bathing cap. And I think I would not like lumps of ice in my hair very much.
The total area of Bighorn Canyon is about 123.553 acres wide and streches between Wyoming and Montana. The first traces of humans can be traced back 12,000 years.

Soulmates don't know boundaries

Bighorn Canyon in the winter
Arch with a snowy view

After we have walked one of the trails, I discover something that looks like a terrace of red rocks. It immediately attracts my attention from a higher view point. Especially because there seems to be no official way down. "I'm almost in the mood to climb down to this spot," I say.

"Well, then we will do it," my friend says and walks off.

I am smiling in amazement. Just do it. Just be a little bit crazy. Together we can talk and laugh while driving for six hours. We can picture wild animals in cloud shapes and drive 85 million miles just hike to a stupid waterfall. All the childish and adventurous madness in my head is reflected in his thoughts. With him nothing matters anymore - not the 5.000 miles between us, not all those years between us, not the different nationalities or culture. More than a year ago I met him on my four-month solo trip across the USA. Since then we have been writing e-mails back and forth. If I would print them all out, I could wrap the entire Empire State Building in the paper. I always thought that the term "soulmate" was a romantic exaggeration. But it is all I do feel now.

Bighorn Canyon: quieter than silence

Bighorn Canyon, Montana, USA
Marble walls at Bighorn Canyon
As I stumble on the way down, I try to hold on to a branch. But then I realize that the wood piece looks somehow strange. I pick it up and can hardly believe what I see. I start to wave with my finding and yell excitedly. It actually is part of an antler. From a deer. That I wouldn't have found if I hadn't wanted to go all the way down.
We finally reach the plateau. I breathe heavily into my thick scarf like I was a hippo. I need to sit down for a while. The bottom of Bighorn Canyon extends in front of us. Sun and clouds dance in the sky and make the rugged rocks appear like marble. White birds fly above the water surface and look like tiny dots. 
My friend is sitting next to me. And after my breath calms down I can hear it: The most beautiful silence in the world.

"Have you ever thought about infinity?"

Bighorn Canyon, mountains
Where does everything start and end?

When you are in the mountains you can usually hear something. The wind is blowing, another hiker is laughing or a car is passing by. At least a bird is twittering. Always. But there is nothing but absolute silence at the abyss of Bighorn Canyon. Literally nothing. I keep trying to listen because I feel like someone had pressed plugs into my ears. I can't believe this is real. There's nothing but silence. The sunlight lets the water appear in different colors. At first green, then brown, then light blue. If I would scream out loud, the sound would simply be swallowed by the magic of the moment.

"Do you hear the silence?" I whisper.

"Yes, I do," my friend answers.

"Have you ever thought about infinity?" I say quietly.

For the next half hour we philosophize like Plato.

 

Then I just lean against his shoulder and we stop talking. The silence is so incredible that I can hear my own blood rushing through my body. My own thoughts. And our heartbeats. My gaze glides along the walls of the canyon. Deeper, step by step. And I feel a piece of my life crumbling off and falling down forever.

 

"Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time."

(Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)

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