The Grand Canyon

September 16, 2007 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Grand Canyon National Park, a World Heritage site,

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is one of the world’s seven natural wonders, which also includes the following:

– Great Barrier Reef in Australia,

– Mount Everest in Nepal,

– Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe,

– the Northern Lights,

– Paricutin Volcano in Mexico and

– Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I do not know if I will be able to see all these 7 natural wonders of the world, but I am glad for the chance of hiking and experiencing one of the world’s natural wonders, the Grand Canyon.

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Grand Canyon is often described as the greatest geological showcase of the earth. It is said that nowhere else is a place like Grand Canyon, nowhere else features such a dazzling variety of of colorful and artistically sculpted rock layers. The Colorado River has cut deeply through the rocks, forming numerous steep-walled canyons.

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Forests are found at higher elevations while the lower elevations are comprised of a series of desert basins.

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” Well known for its geologic significance, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, a vast array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing extensive and significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological resources. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. ” – source: http://www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/index.htm

The best time to probably visit the Grand Canyon is early fall or late spring, the temperatures are not as scorching hot like when it is summer and the North Rim is still open. On the cooler times of the year (late fall to early spring), the North Rim is closed due to unsafe driving conditions on icy roads on almost 6000 ft deep canyon hills. We visited the Grand Canyon late fall last year (November 19- November 22), and unfortunately for us, the North Rim was already closed. Nevertheless, experiencing the South Rim was already so much joy we are most thankful for. For non-hikers, probably just a day visit to the Grand Canyon would be enough, seeing the grandness from the different viewpoints at the rim.

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After Grand Canyon, you can proceed to visit the other magnificient beauty you can find in the Colorado Plateau. The Red Rocks of Sedona is great, the Antelope Canyon in Paige Arizona is something to dream about for avid photographers, and the magnificiently sculpted rocky deserts of Utah. Or you can mix Grand Canyon and Las Vegas like what most tourists do. However, for the great outdoors enthusiasts, a day or two would not be enough since one can spend several days hiking the Grand Canyon, or experience the raging current in the Colorado River by doing white river rafting. Or for those who hesitate to hike but would want to experience the Grand Canyon below the rim, horses can be rented for riding.

For those who plan to hike, one must take into consideration the deceiving nature of the Grand Canyon hike. Going down is easy, but going up is different matter. Unlike most other hikes, hiking the Grand Canyon starts at a high elevation (7000- 8000 ft) and at a cooler temperature. When we started hiking, at the rim, the temperature was 19F (-7 C)

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 then it gets really warm as you go down the canyon under direct heat of the sun,

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and one will face the toughest work which is the long climb when one is already dehydrated and physically tired.

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Grand Canyon has a desert climate, which makes the hike difficult especially for those not exposed to desert climate hiking. Water and protection from the elements make the difference between life and death. The hike must be carefully planned. Most people rescued from the Grand Canyon or had faced death was because they were deceived of the easier process of going down early of the day, not knowing their struggles climbing back up at a later day when the sun is already strong and they already have been dehydrated and physically stressed, and may not also be prepared for the sudden change in temperature. In the desert,  when the sun sets, the temperature becomes very brutally cold, even in the summer. The moment the sun disappears, the surrounding air goes very cold from the rapid moisture evaporation. But when one goes to the desert canyon prepared and knowing his physical limit, hiking can be the ultimate fun of the trip.

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How is Grand Canyon below the rim? The feeling of hiking down the canyon is undescribable.  Hiking at the rocks, so close to the magnificient color display and sculpting nature made filled me with lots of “oh-ah-ah”. If I could only jump without the threat of falling from the thousands foot hills of the canyon. On our hike down the canyon, we stopped from time to time to marvel at the magical rock sculpture that was formed by the cutting of the Colorado River and the erosion caused by the side streams, wind, and rain.

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The Colorado river has magnificiently illustrated its mindless but artistic ability to sculp stone that has become the Grand Canyon. Without the Colorado River, Grand Canyon would have not existed. Much of what is now southeastern California and southwestern Arizona is covered with material eroded from Grand Canyon.

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Even though Grand Canyon rocks are ancient (the oldest rock within the inner gorge at the bottom of the canyon is 1.84 billion years old), but Grand Canyon carving occured only over the last 5- 6 million years. There are different hiking trails to go down the canyon. We did not go all the way down to the Grand Canyon canyon floor to the Coloroado River because of two reasons: 1. We are not very confident and serious desert backpackers. 2. We wanted to experience the different hiking trails so that we would know which one to take the next time we go back there to hike, hopefully, all the way  down. On our first day, we took the Hermit’s trail,

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and on the second day, we took the South Kaibab’s trail,

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and the third day our feet were tired we just went sightseeing along the rim joining the majority of the tourists.

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Only a very small portion of the tourists at the Grand Canyon go down to hike, since the grandness of the canyon can already be seen from the numerous viewpoints at the rim,

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only that the rim is crowded and people take turns to take a picture.

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Among the hiking trail, the Hermit’s trail lives up to its name. It is the most silent and peaceful trail, less popular than the other trails. Probably, one of the reason was the Hermit’s trail is not fully developed and is more challenging compared to South Kaibab’s and Bright Angel’s trail. What is good with Hermit’s trail, you don’t share the trail with the horses, you won’t experience the smell of the horse’s wastes unlike in the South Kaibab’s trail or the Bright Angel’s trail.  The Bright Angel’s trail is paved, while South Kaibab is dirt trail.  The South Kaibab’s trail is my favorite trail since it is less crowded than Bright Angel’s trail, less challenging than Hermit’s trail, and also, I find it more scenic.

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The feeling of being down the Grand Canyon, under the dark sky with a few glittering stars yet feeling secure is indescribable. I think it is because wherever we hike, whether in the ocean’s bluff or the barren mountains of the desert or the lush tropical forest with great waterfalls, each place has their unique beauty, that each time, the feeling is different, the feeling is undescribable, the experience is unique. If you have not tried hiking or exploring the beauty of our world behind the main roads, I encourage you to, you will love it for sure, and maybe will be hooked and go for more :).

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Entry filed under: canyons, hiking, hiking, nature, travel, wildlife, wonders, nature, travel.

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