The word Grand isn’t enough. Using 5 letters to describe and name this place, this world within our world, just doesn’t do it justice. I guess The Greatest Most Massive Ever Upside-Down Mountain Range You Could Never Imagine National Park doesn’t fit on a map very well. That name doesn’t do it justice either. In fact, without being there to witness a part of it in person you can never truly understand, and even then, you still won’t be able to describe it accurately. It simply isn’t possible. All one can do to describe the Grand Canyon is relate their experiences being there and the emotions experienced when standing on the edge. And we stood on edges (mostly Angela). In some cases, I lied down at edges because looking down so far gave me a sensation I hadn’t felt before. I’m pretty comfortable when it comes to heights, or so I thought. I love cliff jumping into lakes and rivers and have spent a fair bit of my time working on ladders without fear. I’ve stood on glass floors of skyscrapers in Asia and looked down without worry. This was different.
When I stood on the edge of a point and looked straight down to my left, right, and ahead, I felt my balance was off. After gingerly stepping back and heading further on the trail one gets the opportunity to look back at where they once stood from another perspective. What we stood on is no more than a small landing surrounded by 300-500 foot cliffs all around, straight down. These are proper cliffs. My lack of wings gives me assurance that these feelings of vertigo are warranted. Man isn’t meant to be here. At least not this man.
Angela, however, seemed unconcerned about the imminent death that lay below if one took a minor misstep. I noped out of many perilous viewpoints while Angela, who normally questions my behaviour, is the one who needed a sanity check here. She confidently strode up to each point, surefooted to the edge. And she made sure to mention I was a chicken. A few times.
That was the experience. As for the emotions, small and insignificant are words that come to mind. Looking down to the canyon floor below, occasionally catching a glimpse of the Colorado River, some 2 miles away makes on feel almost absent. Seeing the layers upon layers of rock dating back millions of years will do that. Between the history and the size, over 15km across in points, I can’t help but compare us to two flies buzzing over the truck windshield once at some point on our trip. And even then, the time of our presence still doesn’t compare.
We camped 2 nights here, at another free site, just outside of the Nation Park, but only accessed from within the park. We were alone but for 1 other camper we passed on the way in. Speaking of passing on the way in, the wood worker in me spotted something incredibly strange. A towering pine at least 2 feet wide had a low branch coming off with the remnants of a large root mass growing out the end of it. I still don’t know what could cause this anomaly, but here’s a picture and maybe someone else does?
This site was another gem of the US Forest Service. Most of these sites are on National Forest land, are user maintained (as in no services, haul out what you bring in) and are free! The sites we’ve visited are generally quite large with ample room to maneuver and park our home on wheels, seldom having to uncouple the truck. This particular site sat next to a forest service fire watchtower. The tower was open for us to climb even! This was my chance to reclaim my manliness “grunting”. Many flights of steep metal stairs open to below and we made it as high as we could go. The trap door into the lookout perch was locked shut. From there we could see for miles in every direction, including a glimpse of the edge of the Grand Canyon. Well, we couldn’t actually see the edge. What we saw was a void where the land we were on disappeared, and never did come back into sight through the hazy air above. Short of a few odd vehicles driving through we spent an uninterrupted 2 days out there and did a whole lot of nothing. It was great!
We spent one more day exploring the Grand Canyon, vowing to return on our way back up and explore the North Rim. There are a couple great campsites along the North Rim but the road to them is seasonal and closed in the winter. They say the South Rim gives an idea of the depth of the canyon, with the North highlighting the width. We can’t wait! On the way out of the park we stopped at the Imax theatre to watch the 1984 National Geographic film on the history and adventures of the canyon. I had seen this film once before years ago as a child but vividly remembered scenes from it. I highly recommend anyone who has the chance to view it. And view it at an Imax theatre.