I've been home just a few days from an adventure unlike any in my past experience. For two full weeks I was backpacking in the Grand Canyon with a group of friends, and I do mean backpacking. We carried everything we needed to survive for the duration: our food, shelter and the necessities of life. I've done multi-day hikes before, but nothing of this magnitude and never into terrain like that of this magnificent place.
It's not called "Grand" for nothing. As anyone who has peeked over its rim knows, it's impressively vast. It's also the most silent place I've ever experienced. At times there was not even a whisper of sound. It is, of course, home to an interesting assortment of creatures I'll focus on in upcoming posts, but for now I would simply like to share some views and moments to give you a sense of what it was like...
...to be confronted with clambering down steep boulders on a "trail" fit only for mountain sheep.
... to marvel at the craftsmanship of the indigenous peoples who once eked out a living in this unforgiving place.
...to sleep in a wee tent perched on the edge of nowhere with a view that's almost impossible to comprehend.
...to gather drinking water from "tanks" - depressions in the rock where run-off has gathered - that necessitated the avoidance of frogs, mosquito larvae and tadpoles lest one's drink become enriched with unexpected protein.
...to be captivated by the beauty of a chance encounter.
...to trudge through fields of blooming cactus "gardens" while being thankful for long trousers, tall socks, and sturdy footwear.
...to dip one's tired toes in the turbid waters of the Colorado River.
... and to be faced, on the last day, with a nine-mile up-hill hike from the banks of the Colorado River to the canyon rim more than 6,000 feet above.
This is not the kind of adventure everyone would relish as much as I did. It was challenging, enthralling, exhausting, empowering, humbling and, at times, a little scary. But I absolutely loved it and it's not something I'll soon forget.
I have hundreds of photos and a journal that I'm certain will fuel my artistic creativity in the days to come. You can expect to read more about it as I sort through my photos and recall the magic of it all.