Sunday, July 5, 2009

Grand Canyon Hiking

When I blogged about my visits to the Grand Canyon, over the years, I mentioned that on one of those visits I hiked down into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim.

I left out some details regarding that hike. The most important detail was hiking into the Grand Canyon was not planned. It was a spontaneous thing.

Walking along the South Rim, at the part of the park where the lodges and hotels and stores are, you come to the Bright Angel Trail. After very little discussion we decided to go down the trail for a bit, just to see what it was like.

Well, the trail sort of pulls you in. We carried no water or food. We figured we'd hike for awhile then turn around. But it kept seeming fun to keep on going. It's all downhill. Being young and, well, maybe a bit stupid, it had not occurred to me that what was easy going down was going to be hard work going back up.

And then the trail comes to an oasis. Water. So, the lack of water problem did not seem like much of a problem.

The deeper you go into the canyon the hotter it gets. It can be quite cool at the canyon rim and downright hot when you go down a couple thousand feet. After awhile it was seeming so easy we decided to go all the way to the river. At an overlook with about another thousand feet to go it was decided it was time to turn around and leave hiking to the Colorado for another day.

About a half hour after beginning the hike back, the reality began to set in. This was going to be hard getting out of the canyon. I was in young and in good shape, so I had that going for me. Others, in not so good shape, have had to be emergency lifted out by helicopter, at great expense.

In my case no helicopter was needed as the top of the canyon was reached about the time the sun totally vanished for the day.

So, I write of my Grand Canyon hike as a cautionary tale. When you start down the Bright Angel Trail there are so many people doing like-wise or heading back out, it just seems like no big deal. But it is a big deal if you naively start walking down such a trail with no food or water.

Below is a Park Service YouTube video that I wish I'd seen before I hiked down the Grand Canyon. But that would not have been possible, YouTube had not been invented at that time. Nor had the Internet. Or personal computers.

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