The Grand Canyon

After driving for about 300 km in the deserted Arizona plains, the scenery suddenly started to change around us. First, the desert was replaced by trees…

road_grand_canyon

and then the flat as a pancake wilderness changed into this:

road_to_grand_canyon

We were getting closer! I felt so giddy and excited. We arrived at the south side of the Grand Canyon National Park in the late afternoon, and, since we wanted to do a short hike before sundown (and also because we were too excited to wait!) we headed straight for the rim. We were greeted by the this view:

canyon_view

There really are no words to describe the beauty of the sight. And there are no pictures good or big enough to convey the magnitude of it all! It’s just on a different scale. Just to give you an idea: the canyon is about 450 km long (more than the distance from London to Manchester, or, for the greeks, a little bit less than the distance from Athens to Thessaloniki), 29 km wide at its widest point, and as deep as 1800 m. It’s simply impossible  to describe how small you feel standing on the rim, looking out to this vast expanse of red rock.

indian_garden_plateau_point

We decided to hike part of the famous Bright Angel Trail – at least as much as we could before the sun went down. Can you see that little trail leading into the canyon, in the middle of the above picture? That’s it! The little wooded area on the way is the Indian Garden, and the point at the end is Plateau Point, a  great viewpoint on the Bright Angel Trail (you can spot it on the map!). We’d have loved to go all the way down to the point but we would have had to camp overnight on the way, and our huge synthetic sleeping-bags bought for cheap at REI were not really backpacking material. So we hiked down to the 1 & 1/2 mile resthouse…

on_the_trail

happy_hikers

That sea of red stone around us was unbelievable. It felt like we were walking around on mars!

grand_canyon

At the mile-and-a-half resthouse, we had a little picnic with all our Trader Joe goodies,

snacking_on_the_trail

and headed back to safety before darkness fell on the trail… It was extremely tempting to keep on going, but being reckless on these trails has cost many people their lives, and we  thought it was probably best that we don’t die of cold and exhaustion, lost somewhere in the Grand Canyon (though that would certainly be a dramatic way to go).

bright_angel_trail

(here’s a picture of Chris on the way back, just to give you an idea of how massive everything felt around us!). It was a bit disappointing not to be able to hike the whole trail, but it was also very exciting to have been there and to have walked into the Grand Canyon, even for a bit. (and for those that haven’t and want to get an idea of what it’s like, Google Streetview now does hiking trails as well. Check this out. How cool is that!! Well played, Google).

We hiked back up to the top and decided it was time to pitch our trusty tent for the night – so we headed back to our campsite, set up the tent, and got a nice little campfire going…

firepit

(not only did it keep us warm, but it also made for the most delicious dinner :-) ). As usual, we had no idea what our campsite looked like till the morning:

mather_campsite

deer_canyon

We woke up early so we could do one more hike before we left – we went all the way to Hermit’s Rest, the farthest one can go on the rim without going down into the Canyon. The views from Hopi point were, once again, breathtaking.

We felt very lucky to be there in December, away from the crowds that flood the place in the summer. We were practically alone everywhere we went – it was quiet and so much more moving.

hopi_point

The Grand Canyon was absolutely fascinating. I wish we could have experienced it a little bit more – but we’d love to go back there one day and go deeper into its magic. For the time being, we had another 300 km ahead of us. Next stop: Monument valley!

PS: Another cool canyon.

Tell us what you think!

*