Don't Leave the Grand Canyon without Hiking Down Inside

The Grand Canyon is something special. It didn't get named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World for nothing. Seeing it for the first time is a truly spectacular moment - you can't take your eyes off of it, and there's just something about it that doesn't even look real. Walking along the rim for miles offers dozens of different viewpoints, all of which seem to bring out a different aspect or color that you hadn't noticed before. It doesn't get old.

The Grand Canyon receives about 5,000,000 visitors a year which is quite an astounding figure for any national park. The sad fact, however, is less than 1% of those 5 million souls actually venture into the canyon itself. Most spend just a matter of minutes in the park, taking a few selfies, buying a souvenir and then heading elsewhere. This is a crying shame. It simply shouldn't be.

I gave myself almost two days at the park, one of which I devoted to hiking around the rim trail, the second was left for taking one of the long trails into the canyon. Choosing which hike was the hard part with quite a few options that all sounded challenging and rewarding in their own ways. After talking to various locals and rangers I decided to go with the famous Bright Angel Trail. I got a late start, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable and spectacular days of my life.

I intended to do a 9 mile round trip hike from the rim to the Indian Gardens, and ended up doing the entire trail (some 19 miles round trip) in one day. I couldn't stop once I started. The sheer magnitude and beauty of the canyon's interior is addicting. After the first few miles on the trail the people thin out and it becomes essentially just you and the canyon. You'll never feel so small when you're being dwarfed by canyon walls towering thousands of feet above you on either side. Every corner you turn offers a new view further into the canyon - the idea of breathtaking views never felt quite so literal.
A few miles into a the canyon.

I could easily write an entire post on the almost 10 hour marathon into and out of the canyon. Between the people I met, challenges conquered and incredible photographs I have stories and memories that will last a lifetime.

On the inside of the canyon, there are places that you are able to camp overnight with permission or reservations like the Indian Garden or the Phantom Ranch, a truly idyllic oasis 9 miles into the canyon and across the raging Colorado River. I didn't have time to overnight down in the canyon, but you will be hard pressed to find a place more serenely beautiful and peaceful.

A few words of advice
There are plenty of different hikes that offer visitors a chance to go down into the canyon and they vary greatly in difficulty and length. There is something for just about everyone, whether you only have a few hours or a few days. I wanted to get the complete experience and was on a blistering pace, so my hike turned into a 19+ mile affair that I will never forget. I don't necessarily recommend doing the entire rim to river and back hike all in a day as I did (and the park rangers strong recommend against it, but whatever) however, if you are fit and up for the challenge of pushing yourself beyond the point of physical and mental exhaustion, this is one of the most rewarding treks you can set your feet on.

Regardless of whether or not you do a day hike or spend a weekend in the canyon you should be prepared. Having a flashlight is a life saver (I can't emphasize this enough, don't even try hiking in the dark on any interior canyon trail without a light). Bring water but don't overdo it as there is water accessible on many of the trails (find out beforehand after you have selected a hike). Photographers don't necessarily need a tripod, but the lighting in the canyon is difficult for a camera to grasp on auto settings. If you have on-board HDR, you are set; if not, be prepared to take multiple shots on various exposures to get the best representation of the beautiful colors and lighting effects inside the canyon. Feel free to ask any questions about my hike or hiking at the Grand Canyon in general and I'll do whatever I can to respond!

No comments:

Post a Comment