The Grand Canyon, a Natural wonder like no other!
I’m sitting on a rock by a path and having a bite of my sandwich. I’m giving my calves some much needed rest after a steep climb and allowing my heart rate to settle down too. Today it’s been through the roof, partly due to the strenuous hike and partly due to a mixture of sheer excitement and fear caused by the icy path, which in some places has been very narrow. I’m taking in the view before me and wipe my eyes with my sleeve. The wind up here, together with the unique beauty of this awesome landscape, are enough to bring a tear to my eye. I’m staring at the breathtakingly beautiful Grand Canyon, the most famous natural wonder in the world, and feeling incredibly small.
The golden yellow, carved, sandstone walls of the canyon, rise from the ground almost at a 90 degree angle in some places. On the opposite side, the different layers of sediment give the canyon a stripy effect. Sandy brown wasn’t the only colour in the palette of this wondrous landscape’s creator, but different shades of red, brown and green are also clearly visible. The sky is clear today, and if I squint a bit, I can just about make out the wriggly line at the bottom, 1,5km below. That, is the Colorado river, running at the bottom of the canyon. Although I’ve seen the canyon in numerous pictures and tv-shows, I never realised just how long, vast and deep the canyon really is. It’s 443km long, 1,6km deep and at its widest point, 28,8km wide.
Passing riders extend their greetings as they pass us by on their mules. It’s crazy to think that this historic way of seeing the canyons has been in use for over a hundred years! Those first riders at the turn of the 20th century must have been incredibly brave! I bet this path was not this clear and well maintained back then. Then my thoughts travel back to an even earlier time, when native American tribes inhabited the canyon. It’s amazing how the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai people managed to survive in such harsh conditions, especially since the temperature varies from below freezing in the winter months, to a sweltering 38 C heat in the summer.
By the time we sit on the coach after our day excursion, my legs have turned into jelly. We’re both exhausted from the hike and settle in as the coach takes its international passengers back to their different destinations, the visitor centre, hotels and parking lots. Once we get off we have a little look at the gift shop and reward ourselves with a pizza dinner after a long day of walking. We go to bed feeling happy and content, after an amazing day of adventure.
We can hear a storm gathering in the night. The wind picks up and Epeli rocks from side to side like a ship at sea. In the morning, while we’re preparing to get on the road, it starts to snow and soon enough the weather has built up to a blizzard; it’s so windy that it’s snowing almost horizontally and before we know it the icy road is completely covered in snow, its edges quickly vanishing from sight. We make one last stop at the canyon’s watchtower, but the visibility is too poor for us to see much of anything from up there. We only step outside for a moment and get greeted with a faceful of hailstones while the wind ruffles our coats violently.We’re a bit concerned about the tourists we saw yesterday, who were on their way to do several days worth of hiking and camping in tents. We wish for protection over them. That’s something that wee too will need now, that we carry on traveling downhill on the icy mountain road.