SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – April 2001

Grand Canyon Magic

"With some eagerness, and some anxiety, and some misgiving, we enter the canyon below?." -John Wesley Powell, August 13, 1869

by: Tom Shealey

PAGE 1 2

Powell had solid cause for a few goose bumps. He was about to venture into what he called "The Great Unknown" and paddle a river-the Colorado-that could chew his wooden boat to splinters. I was simply hiking into the Grand Canyon on the tough but well-traveled Tanner Trail. Still, I shared Powell's emotions: "eagerness" because I'd dreamt for years of lying beside the mighty Colorado River as the Milky Way coursed overhead and moon shadows danced on sheer canyon walls rising 4,000 feet into the night; "anxiety" because a shattered wrist suffered 2 months earlier left me with the stamina of a three-legged tortoise; "misgiving" because back home, my 16-year-old son was taking the road test for his driver's license.

As I stood at the trailhead, straining to see the canyon bottom and wracked with angst (can I do this?), my thoughts were 2,000 miles away. My son had trained and studied and said he was ready, but I wasn't. Images of him behind the wheel didn't mesh with memories of the determined but frightened little boy who bravely held my hand one September morning as we waited for his first school bus; or the time his hit sent his Little League team into the playoffs; or the countless nights I rocked him to sleep in my lap. My precious little guy was suddenly 16, and soon he'd be able to legally operate a vehicle on roadways choked with the bad, the drunk, and the just plain idiotic (like the fool who almost killed me in a senseless accident last year). I didn't want him on the roads.

"Gaze not too long into the abyss/Lest the abyss gaze into thee."
      -Friedrich Nietzsche

The Colorado River, with its fine rafting rapids, gets the lion's share of Grand Canyon visitor traffic. But slow, self-absorbed walking is a better way to become intimate with such powerful places. On the trail, you quickly fall into a rhythm-some call it "canyon magic" -and lose yourself in the awe, the reverence, and the switchback exhaustion. The physical strain is rewarded each night with beach-sand campsites and river lullabies. The next morning, you make the hard hike up again, climbing thousands of feet, then carefully picking your way along thread-thin paths that barely cling to canyon walls.

High up in the clear canyon air your mind is alert, your senses sharp. The Colorado moves as slow as molasses in winter a mile beneath you, and you notice that this is a land of layers. The river has scoured through the Colorado Plateau, exposing kaleidoscopic segments of rock as young as the 250-million-year-old Kaibab limestone near the canyon rim and as old as the 1.7-billion-year-old Vishnu schist on its floor.


PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Eclipse photos from last night
Posted On: Apr 18, 2014
Submitted By: Wailer
The Political Arena
Now Maryland?!
Posted On: Apr 17, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions