Friday, February 26, 2010

Isn't It Grand

Magnet # 179: Grand Canyon Photo Frame

Material: Wood, Acrylic

Purchased By: Mom & Dad

On this day in history, not one, but two National Parks were created. Yesterday, I talked about the Grand Teton, so today I'll discuss the Grand Canyon, which was established in 1919, a full decade before the Grand Teton. It may have been the 17th park, but many consider it to be the crown jewel of the National Park System.  This breathtaking abyss is 277 miles long, more than 10 miles wide, and a mile deep and the Colorado River has been carving it for millions of years.  Nearly every visitor there is awestruck by its majesty.  Many years ago, an attempt was made to turn it into the second national park, but once again, local ranchers, miners, and settlers delayed the process of the creation of a national park.  Both presidents Benjamin Harrison and Teddy Roosevelt did all in their power to protect the land, however, and more visitors poured into the area every year.  Eventually it gained more visitors than any of the national parks except for Yellowstone or Yosemite.  And yet, it was only a national monument and ranchers and miners were still using the area for profit.  And one man in particular - Ralph Henry Cameron - was so determined in his efforts to exploit and control the Grand Canyon that he caused major trouble for the National Park Service.  But finally, thanks in part to the attention Cameron's outrageous behavior brought the situation, the Grand Canyon was made a National Park.  Although Cameron lost his holdings there, he managed to have a short-lived career as a Senator (if that doesn't prove any crook can get elected, I don't know what would).  The Grand Canyon was at last free to become one of the greatest parks in the United States, and the one site every American should see.

Unfortunately, I have never been to the Grand Canyon, but would definitely like to see it someday. One fact I've learned over the years is that if you want to hike down to the rim, you have to be very careful and well-conditioned for the trip.  The Park Service has to rescue so many hikers every year that they have posted images of a fit young man that read most of the hundreds of people they save annually "look like him"  A friend of mine once told me about a disastrous trip she had down to the floor of the canyon. She and her friend were in their early twenties and in good shape, so they grabbed the backpacks and tents to hike down, although they had not conditioned for the trip at all. By the time they had reached the bottom, just about every muscle in their bodies had been pulled and they were in agony. One of them had a blister about the size of a half-dollar on her foot. For two days, they stayed down there, barely able to leave their tent. To make matters worse, there was a fierce rainfall - they could even hear the rocks falling, which was pretty unsettling - and their tents flooded. The food down there for sale was ridiculously expensive - she thinks they spent ten bucks on a lemonade, and they were so hungry that they ate the canned stew they brought without even heating it up first. On the trip back up, they were in terrible pain, but every time other hikers came by them, they pretended they were just fine. And yet, despite all of her ordeals, she said it was a truly beautiful place and that she absolutely wants to go back there again. Although it was miserable and in the twenties on the rim of the canyon, at the bottom it was seventy degrees and idyllic. She even said that she would hike the trail again, and not ride on a donkey, as she thinks it's less safe riding one than walking on her own. But, of course, she would prepare her body for the rigorous exercise this time around.

If you've never seen this incredible attraction, you should at least consider adding it to your bucket list.  From what I understand, unless you see it in person, you cannot truly appreciate it.  And even those who visit the Grand Canyon can never really describe it to those who haven't.  But if you do choose to see this majestic locale in person, be careful about what you do there.  It can be as perilous as it is beautiful.  Regardless, see it from the rim, from the floor, from a raft traveling down the Colorado River, or even from an airplane or helicopter flying high above - whatever you're comfortable with.  You should be greatly rewarded for your efforts - I truly doubt the Grand Canyon will disappoint.

4 comments:

  1. I'm so excited that I'll be visiting this for a day in July when I travel out to California (probably the wrong time of year due to the heat, but I'll take what I can get)

    Thanks for the warning about the dangerous of going up and down. I was considering the hike myself, but don't think my wife would be able to make that.

    Do you know if they ever built that clear circular overhang allowing people to walk out and get a better look down from the top?

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  2. How cool - hope you have a great time! And glad you avoid making that mistake.

    I didn't see anything about it in my research - you could try the NPS site.

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  3. Found its site here:

    http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com/

    I'll bring you a magnet!

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