Thunder Wall | Mark Lindsay

Thunder Wall | Mark Lindsay

Deep in Grand Canyon the sudden realization hits us. We smell it. We look up and see it. Rain clouds. Early September means monsoon season—we get a taste of it most every year. A sudden ghost wind confirms it. We swallow hard and wait for thunder.

The clouds grumble at first, like a grumpy lion who's been awakened from his hot-afternoon nap. The ghost wind hits us again, licking us with its cool wetness. The desert sucks the wind dry and stillness returns, but the clouds grow by the minute. Dark, Darker, Black. Stillness always precedes thunder. We wait.

The first crack for real thunder hits us hard. It rattles around the walls of the canyon and echoes for an eternity. The direction of its source is impossible to detect. It arrives in surround sound, omnipresent and foreboding. My dental fillings rattle in fear. I look around for shelter but I'm on a gigantic plateau, the highest object for save a big rock that tumbled from the rim a few eons ago. I shake off visions of my electrified skeleton. Nothing to do but press onward.

The thunder wall rattles again. I wonder if the enormous canyon rim will yield another boulder. Surely there's one up there waiting for a little nudge—the thunder seems more than adequate for the push. Death by boulder, death by execution. I imagine both are pretty quick ways to get to the other side. I hope to myself that the other side is quieter than the racket of this growing storm.

An enormous flash! I see a bolt of fury land somewhere on the North Rim. The gods are angry. The storm is now playing with us, shooting rays of death randomly at our tiny selves. I imagine a white-bearded god flinging his stuff at me, chortling at my frail mortality. I ponder for a moment if I can outrun the oncoming lightning. Three more flashes and I realize the folly of my plan. I figure the closest shelter is straight ahead. We keep moving. A moving target is harder to hit, isn't it?

A rain drop hits my bald head with a thud. Rain drops aren't supposed to hurt but this one does. The dew rag that protects my pate from the sun hardly cushions the blow. Ten more hurtful drops follow in rapid succession. Now I can't count them. The deluge begins. We lower our heads and walk. Walking seems to solve most everything in life. The key is to keep moving. So, we do.

Ten minutes later I can count the drops again. The thunder wall is quiet. A beam of warm sun tickles a spot on its face. The sun dries everything before it has a chance to soak into the rocks and dirt. The impressions of myriad rain drops are all that remain of the storm. We walk back to camp exhilarated. Life never felt so alive.