5 Enlightening Discoveries at The Grand Canyon
I recently took a road trip out to Arizona to camp and hike the Grand Canyon for three nights. It was an amazing experience. The canyon was truly breathtaking. I honestly thought I would be a bit underwhelmed by the whole experience. I knew it was a site that everyone should see during their travels throughout the United States, but before visiting I honestly thought how awesome can a big canyon really be? So I went in with slightly low expectations. Boy was I wrong. I arrived in the afternoon and after setting up my camp site I headed over to the main visitor center. Getting out of my car I followed the signs towards Mather Point – the closest viewing point to the visitor center. As I got my first glimpse of the canyon I couldn’t help it as a silly grin spread from ear to ear. It was stunning. The vast open space, the plummeting canyons and the array of different colors in the stone. I had been wrong, I was thoroughly impressed.
I spent much of this adventure exploring and reflecting. Taking the time to relax, think, and just get away from it all while roughing it a bit. I discovered or perhaps re-discovered several things about myself during this adventure and I’ve detailed them for you below.
I’m not as tough as I thought I was.
I decided that in order to cut costs I would not buy a pad or blow up mattress of any sort to sleep on during the trip. I had recently bought a tent and a backpack. I didn’t want to spend any more money. I was trying to save as much as I could for my upcoming trip throughout Europe after all. So I decided that my sleeping bag and the tent would be enough. I can sleep on the ground I thought! No big deal right? Well… I lasted one night. That first night I tossed and turned rotating through sleeping on each side and my back. I’d switch as soon as one or the other got sore. Surprisingly, I didn’t wake with an especially sore back or anything. But I did decide to take a quick trip to the REI which was an hour away to buy one of those small inflatable pads to sleep on. One night roughing it on the ground was enough for me, and laying on that inflated pad felt like heaven afterwards!
I love the stars and the night sky.
There are very few places in the United States where you can see the Milky Way, and I don’t think I had ever seen it before. The Grand Canyon is one of those few places. The first night I was there, and every night afterwards I would venture out to the rim of the canyon around eleven at night and just stare up at the night sky. I had to get all bundled up as I was surprised to learn that the temperatures up on the rim would drop down to about 30 degrees at night, even in May! Despite the cold though, I would spend about an hour out there each night just staring up and the countless stars in the sky.
Mother Nature is unbelievably powerful.
While no one knows for sure, what caused the formation of the Grand Canyon, it is largely believed that it was created by a combination of erosion primarily by water and secondly by wind, as well as continental drift of the world’s tectonic plates. It is believed that it took roughly 4 million years for the Colorado River and its side streams to carve what we now know as the Grand Canyon.
Hiking can be both a peaceful solo journey as well as a unifying group activity.
I went on several long hikes throughout the Canyon and found that on the hike down I would often stay largely to myself. Aside from saying hello to fellow hikers passing by on their way up, I wouldn’t stop and talk much or hike down with another group of people. However, on the way back up as I would be taking much more frequent rest breaks to eat and drink I would socialize more. And there is always something to get a conversation started while hiking, especially on the way up! Just mention the view or how it really is surprisingly much more difficult to hike up than down! I’d frequently joke with fellow hikers about how they had just passed me by or how they looked familiar as each group would inevitably be taking advantage of shady patches and waypoints to rest and refuel while we would all systematically pass and be passed by each other. It resulted in seeing the same faces frequently pass you by and vice versa.
It is nice to rough it and get away from technology as well as the typical hustle and bustle for a while.
Aside from my phone (which worked only very sporadically due to the inability to recharge) I had no connection with the world outside the canyon during my trip. No electricity, no internet, no television. Just me, the Grand Canyon and the people I encountered there. It reminded me of the many summer months I would spend at our lakeside cabin up in Croydon, NH as a kid. We didn’t have any TV or internet there either.