Coming to Point Sublime

Coming to Point Sublime

We had entered Grand Canyon National Park before sunrise, turning west onto the primitive road toward Point Sublime. This was in those ancient days when a Coupe de Ville could negotiate the unpaved miles with just a few dents and scrapes.

My father had driven through the Kaibab Plateau’s forest on Arizona Highway 67 from Jacob Lake, Momma up front with him. No other headlights cut the dark. I sat in the back seat with Cissie, my dozing eighteen-year-old cousin. Our Kodak Instamatic ready in my hands, cocked.

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For two hours or more we passed through shadows that in dawn’s cool arrival became aspen-edged meadows and stands of Ponderosa pine. Up resistant limestone knolls, down around sinks and ravines. Up then down. Up then down. In time, through small breaks between trees, we could glimpse a distant level horizon sharpen in first light.

We had little forewarning of where the Kaibab Plateau ended and limestone cliffs fell away to inconceivable depth and distance. The suddenness stunned. No single camera frame could contain the expanse or play of light. Canyon walls that moments earlier descended into undefined darkness then glowed in great blocky detail. As shadows receded a thin sliver in the far inner gorge caught the rising sun, glinting—the Colorado River.


Decades have passed, nearly my entire life, since a seven-year-old stood with her family at this remote point on the North Rim. I’ll never know what that morning meant to my father when he took this detour on his homeward journey. Or to my mother. We traveled together but arrived with different beholding eyes.

I may not have known what to expect at road’s end, but the memory of what we found shapes me still.

Images courtesy of: Author Lauret Savoy
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