Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't Fall In!

The Grand Canyon is pretty amazing. Everything you've heard is true. Seeing it for the first time is truly an experience you'll never forget. No matter how you prepare yourself, it's more vast and more massive than you could possibly imagine. I saw a sign that said "it's the canyon that all other canyons want to be." Well, I didn't know canyons could be so superficial. But it doesn't have to worry. The Grand Canyon is so incredible; it almost looks unreal, like a painting almost.

I actually decided not to do the Skywalk. It was getting really bad reviews for the silly $75 packages you had to buy to walk on it, the fact that the Indians won't let you take pictures, and the relative remoteness and lack of infrastructure yet to be completed around the Skywalk.
So I stuck with the South Rim.

My day started by stopping by the National Geographic Visitor's Center in Tusayan, about 20 miles south of the South Rim. I got in the mood by buying some souvenirs including John Wesley Powell's The Exploration of the Colorado And Its Canyons, which goes against the usual trashy novels that I read. But I felt very inspired by the Canyon to be this country's next great explorer, even though I actually hadn't seen it yet because I was too busy buying souvenirs and watching the IMAX movie. I began to be afraid that I'd be the first person to go to the Canyon without actually seeing it.

Soon enough, I left the visitor's center and headed towards the Canyon. It was surprisingly pretty cold that day; in the low 60s or so, and it was raining off and on. I cursed myself for not buying that National Geographic Grand Canyon vest that I saw at the Visitor's Center.

I was actually starting to think that maybe the Canyon was overrated, and was starting to doubt my wisdom in driving all this way. But that changed upon my first glimpse when I got out of the car. If it had been a reality series, this segment would have sounded something like:
Host: "And here's the Canyon!"

Me: "Holy [bleep]. Are you [bleeep] kidding me?"

Host: "And it's over a mile deep!"

Me: "Get the [bleep] out of here. This is [bleeeep] awesome!"

To explore, I decided to hike down South Kaibab Trail because there's a plateau at about the middle of the trail that gives a nice panoramic view. The hike down is fine, a bit steep and scary in some parts, but nothing too bad. I passed by some interesting folks coming back up, including a family whose Dad was clearly hell-bent on providing the best damn holiday for his family. The rest of the family looked tired and not nearly as enthusiastic as their fearless leader. I also saw some absolute idiots hiking in Birkenstocks and not carrying a single bottle of water. The hike back up is HARD. OMG. It feels like an endless Stairmaster. There is no way you could go to the bottom and back up to the top in the same day.

I made it to the plateau in about 45 min, and of course the view was amazing, humbling, vast, and any other superlative you can think of. Seriously, the Canyon is no joke. I don't think there's any adjective in the English language that would exaggerate the immensity of it.

So of course I had to take a picture. I saw a couple resting and asked the guy, who was this bumbling German guy, to take my picture. I decided on a place and adjusted the camera settings and gave him my camera. He took a picture and offered to take another one. That's when the lens closed and retreated back in. Hmmmm. I took the camera and pressed the "On" button. Nothing. I realized the battery had RAN OUT!

So here's the one picture I took. I was not having a good hair day:


chuck said...

awesome photo!
(bad hair day? c'mon! no way!)
you need to come see volcano here; everywhere has the same reaction when they see the crater for the first time. altho, by the looks of your photo, it pales in comparison to the grand canyon. after all, it's not called the grand volcano ;)

Ming_the_Merciless said...

What hair? Boy, there ain't much hair up there. :-)

Spectacular view though. I have to admit, I admire your courage to explore places like these. I have always wanted to go but could never find anyone who wanted to go with me.

I travel to Paris, Zurich, London alone. But not to the Grand Canyon. That's just way too foreign. :-)

David said...

The last time I was at the Grand Canyon was 1981. I'm glad to hear it still impresses.