People hear so much about the Grand Canyon. Its size, its crowds, the challenge of finding a good way to explore it. The first day at the canyon, we were in awe of the layers of rock and “temples,” or buttes, dotting the fissure. We watched the rocks change from bright red and pink in midday light to purplish and blue in the sunset. If you’ve never seen the sandstone-and-iron-oxide red rocks of the southwest, this is one of the most impressive features of the Grand Canyon.
The first night at the Grand Canyon, my boyfriend and I drove from our campsite to the rim to see stars incomparable to anything on the East Coast (while there are dark sky parks back east, the humidity interferes with the clarity of the view). We also “heard” the canyon for the first time: the sound of the wind rushing through the canyon below us, and nothing else, was equally as impressive as the depth of the Milky Way.
The next day, we tried to hike down to Indian Gardens, roughly two miles into the canyon via Bright Angel Trail, and probably 2,000 vertical feet below the trailhead. It was August in Arizona, so 90+ degrees with no shade. We made it about halfway before drinking all of our water. When you’re out of water, you turn around, or risk becoming severely dehydrated by the dry heat. So, we then hiked 2,000 feet in the sun back up out of the canyon, sans water. We had only hiked the hills back east and strolled around the buttes in Sedona prior to this. We were exhausted! Thankfully, there is a cafeteria in the lodge at the trailhead (Edward Abbey was dismayed by how convenient the Grand Canyon National Park infrastructure is, but, for back-east tourists, the huge lodge at the rim is a godsend).
I’ve been back to the Grand Canyon since, but with too little time to attempt to hike back down to the river, or anywhere near the river. I’m in better shape now, and think I could do a rim-to-rim, but I’d just as easily accept seeing the river from the river, by way of a rafting trip.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona