There's nothing quite as special as sharing a passion that's near and dear to your heart. For Cameron Martindell, that passion is outdoor exploration — in this instance, camping. See the Grand Canyon through his daughter's eyes.
Camping is in my blood. So when my daughter Rosie was born there was no question that I was going to share the mysteries of the wilderness with her. And what better place and time to camp with a baby than the north rim of the Grand Canyon during the mild summer season?
The 10-hour drive from Denver—a breeze for my wife, Jordan, and me pre-Rosie—had to be broken up into smaller chunks for the infant strapped in a car seat (naps only got us so far). Public parks and road-side rest areas became our new best friend; we'd deploy our picnic kit and give Rosie some much needed floor time.
After the stop-and-start of the drive out, it was a relief to finally arrive at our campsite and begin settling in. The trickiest part by far was the sleeping arrangements. We used a large tent with a double sleeping bag for my wife and me and a little tent within the big tent for Rosie.
After getting settled in, we were all eager to get out and explore with our little one for the first time. It was an exciting moment for Jordan and I — getting to share this with Rosie. From our base camp we ventured to the rim of the canyon for a picturesque picnic dinner with a killer view. Rosie was perched in her baby-carrier backpack, enjoying the view, her grin as bright as the glow on the canyon walls. As the sun set, the shadows wandered up the sandstone walls extinguishing the glow of the canyon—but not our own. The next morning we packed a lunch and hiked down into the canyon. We weren't rigged for a full on backpacking trip, just a day hike. But that was enough to get us below the rim and surrounded by sandstone. Rosie squeaked with delight as we placed her in her carrier. She seemed to know it meant we were going exploring.
By the time we reached the first plateau, where the fallen Coconino Sandstone piled up on the Hermit Shale layer, we found a small tree that offered some protection from the harsh glare of the mid-day sun. Rosie was ready to get out of her carrier and excited for lunch. Her big eyes traveled from the view of the canyon walls from whence we came and down into the depths still beyond. A light breeze wicked the sweat from our brows as we ate and enjoyed our surroundings. With a full belly, Rosie was happy to be put her back in the carrier. She fell fast asleep and snored lightly as we hiked our way back up and out to camp.
As Jordan and I hiked along the rim with a still-snoozing Rosie, we watched the sun set against the canyon. I couldn't help wondering what our baby was seeing in her dreams. Were visions of the canyon and trees keeping her company as she slumbered? How much of all this grandeur had she been able to comprehend?
Of course, it didn't really matter. What did matter, to us at least, was that we were giving Rosie the opportunity to experience the world beyond the walls of buildings, manicured lawns and asphalt-paved roads. We knew that, at a mere six months old, she wouldn't be able to remember this experience in particular, but we counted on the fact that as long as we kept sharing our love of the wilderness as a family, we'd nurture the same kind of lifelong passion in our daughter. Staring out at the expanse of the canyon, Jordan and I watched as Rosie's eyes lazily roamed the canvas. Yes, this certainly felt like a significant moment in time. The first of many.