An Arizona Republic writer muses on what happens when the Grand Canyon goes completely silent.

n the morning, the wind still blew, and the day unfolded with sound. The camp stove, the water boiling, footsteps on the slickrock, a rattlesnake at my feet. More wind and more footsteps, all day long, until I stopped walking and sat down at camp.

By then, a silence had settled over the Esplanade. Exactly when, I could not say. Even the sounds of songbirds and bats stood out as the sun dropped and night came. The silence became a void so large it was a presence, like the Canyon itself.

Few who live in cities experience this kind of silence. The conversation lags, someone turns off the stereo, and they think that silence follows. Listen. You can still hear traffic, the air-conditioner, some commotion down the street. Real silence is rare, even in the outdoors.

Lots of folks say they hike for the quiet, but you have to stop walking to actually hear it.