The Glow of Silence - Lost at Bighorn Canyon.

November 15, 2018

Bighorn Canyon
YEAH to freedom!

When I step out of the house, it is so cold that my nose almost right falls off. I can just hold on to it and pull the rainbow cap into my eyes. My American friend had to lend me one because I lost my own one in Germany and it can get damn cold in the middle of October in the Rocky Mountains.


I always do lose something, by the way. On this day, above all, my mind. In a place that spoke to me without saying a word. I'm telling you about the noisy silence of the Bighorn Canyon, about soulmates, infinity and moments that silently change your life


And yes. On this picture I froze my ass off without the cap just to look good.

Heart over head through Wyoming

Way from Cody to Bighorn Mountains
Mountains like elephants

We're in the car, and I'm trying not to complain about the cold. Then my caring friend always turns on the heater and I feel like a sissy. I want to stand the wintry autumn in Wyoming with cowboy attitude by not even twinkling once. My eyelid is fluttering because I'm lying. We leave the small town with the wooden houses and the swinging traffic lights over the wide streets. Into the countryside.


There's a hell of a lot of that in Wyoming. The state has the second lowest population density after Alaska. The gray asphalt with the yellow medial strip runs through the steppe like a petrified lava flow. And my heart crashes through the windshield because I can't hold it back anymore. I love this country. I already felt something very special here last year and my return has not made it any better so far. Dark grey clouds lie above the steel-blue sky and the first 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 I do live to Bighorn Canyon. But driving three hours through Wyoming is like eating chocolate for three hours. Just that it doesn't make you sick. Well, sick with joy maybe.
Shortly before the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area begins, the rocks slowly turn red. I've always thought it was a phenomenon of the Southern States of the US, but I have to admit that I didn't seem to have any idea. The rock formations pile up like mousse pudding, with gnarled bushes in between and tiny yellow flowers in between. Endless width in between. Not one human soul.
When we get out for the first time, I want to spread my arms and scream. And never stop. I don't know if you ever felt like you'd finally arrived somewhere. Not at McDonald's or in the restroom, but somewhere inside of yourself. I could sit down on the asphalt for hours and watch that one blade of grass that rebels against the wind and is approached by it again and again.

Let's jump into the canyon

Bighorn Canyon
See the wonderful green water at Bighorn Canyon
Then we drive on to Bighorn Canyon, which tears the recreation area into two parts. Well, there are tons of canyons in the United States. And somehow the Bighorn Mountains fade behind Yellowstone National Park. Don't they?
But when I do see the deep and wide gorge with the light green water, in which the light refracts like a million stars, I know that I am completely lost. I run along the railing like a child, pointing to the unbelievably beautiful landscape to yet find no words.
"What do you think?" my friend asks.
I have think about it for a minute. "That I'd like to jump down there to express how I do feel. I can't think of anything more overwhelming right now."
Of course I'm not jumping. Forgot my bathing cap. And lumps of ice in your hair are uncool.
The total area is about 123.553 acres and lies 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 kind of a terrace of red rocks that immediately attracts my attention from a view point. Especially because there seems to be no official way down there. "I'm really in the mood to go there now," I say.

"Well, then we'll do it," says my friend and goes off.

I smile. Just do it. Just be a little crazy. We can talk and laugh in the car for six hours. See wild animals in the clouds and drive 85 million miles just so I can see a stupid waterfall. The whole childish and hippie-esque madness in my head is reflected in his thoughts. It doesn't matter that almost 5.000 miles do lie between us, a few years difference in age and a whole culture. Over a year ago we met on my big four-month trip across the US and have been writing e-mails back and forth since then. I could wrap the entire Empire State Building in all the things we wrote. I always found the term "soulmate" a little exaggerated. But there's no better word for it.

Bighorn Canyon: quieter than silence

Bighorn Canyon, Montana, USA
Marble walls at Bighorn Canyon
By stumbling stupidly on the way down I want to hold on to a branch. But then I realize that the wood looks somehow strange. I pick it up and can hardly believe that I can see parts of a horn. I euphorically wave with the broken piece and shout excitedly grammatical nonsense into the landscape. It's actually horn. From a deer. That I wouldn't have found if I hadn't wanted to go all the way down.
But finally we arrive at the plateau. I do breathe into my thick scarf like a hippopotamus and have to sit down for a while. Bighorn Canyon extends in several loops in front of us. Sun and clouds dance in the sky and let the rugged edges look like marble. White birds fly above the water surface and look like tiny dots. 
My friend is sitting next to me. And after my breathing calms down I do hear it: the most beautiful silence in the world.

"Have you ever thought about infinity?"

Bighorn Canyon, mountains
Where does everything start and end?

Usually in the mountains the wind always blows. Someone is laughing or a car is passing by. At least a bird is screaming. Always. But at the abyss of Bighorn Canyon there is nothing. Literally Nothing. I listen and listen because I feel as if someone has pressed ear plugs into my ears. It can't be true, I think. There's nothing else than silence. The sun makes the water first appear green, then brown, then light blue. I think if I screamd now, the sound would just be swallowed by the magic of the moment.

"Do you hear the silence?" I whisper.

"Yes I do," answers my friend.

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

For the next half hour we become the best philosophers next to Plato.


Then I just lean on his shoulder and we keep quiet. The silence is so great that I can hear my own blood. My own thoughts. And hearts. My gaze glides along the walls of the canyon, step by step. And I feel a piece of my life crumbling off and falling down.


"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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