The Grand Canyon in Arizona is a natural wonder without equal in the world. Here, erosion has crafted both beautifully graceful and strikingly sharp forms, and geology has painted colors that manage to be subtle and brilliant at the same time.
The almost unimaginable magnitude and jaw-dropping beauty of the canyon’s North and South Rims draw millions of visitors from around the world every year. Personally, I’m called to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, which sits atop the Kaibab (a Paiute word meaning “mountain lying down”) Plateau, a forested area of aspens, high-elevation pines and spruce firs.
But there’s even another kind of beauty to this area that isn’t quite as apparent at first look and that requires some luck to witness. On extremely rare days, cold air is trapped in the canyon and topped by a layer of warm air, which in combination with moisture and condensation, form a phenomenon known as a “full-cloud inversion.” When this happens, the Grand Canyon is completely obscured by fog, making visitors feel as if they are walking on clouds.
Watch the video below that was shot in the Grand Canyon during one of these cloud inversions. Time-lapse artists and filmmakers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic managed to catch this spectacle in their film titled Kaibab Elegy. The video was produced in collaboration with the International Dark-Sky Association as part of the SKYGLOW Project, an ongoing, crowd-funded endeavor to explore the effects and dangers of urban light pollution on our highly fragile environment in contrast with some of North America’s few remaining, magnificent dark skies. You can learn more about the project by viewing the trailer.
Recently, Outside magazine called Kaibab Elegy “the greatest Grand Canyon time-lapse we’ve ever seen,” adding “damn, it’s incredible.” You’ll soon find out why.
Go on the two-and-a-half-minute, virtual adventure below, with the music of Pete Davis and James Banbury to accompany you.
I assure you that for the rest of the day, your head—and feet!—will be in the clouds.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,
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