The Grand Finale

I will never forget the first time I saw the Grand Canyon. We woke up and got walking around 4 in the morning that day, hoping to catch a sunrise. We walked along the deserted road that rides the rim of the canyon, under the cover of the surrounding trees and darkness. Slowly, the world turned up its brightness. The sun struggled to break through the layer of intermittent clouds. We sauntered along towards the first of many overlooks.

I lagged behind, per the usual. I’m the shortest in the group, and I’m blaming the fact that I can’t keep up on my little legs. The group consisting of Everest, Maple, Crikey, and RJ had paused ahead of me. When I caught up to them, they had an interesting proposal.

“So, since it’s your first time here, we’d like to blindfold you and walk you the rest of the way to the overlook,” they told me. I agreed, thinking only of how excited I was to finally see this place. Everest held the other end of my trekking pole and I took hesitant steps forward.

The group put me on a rock and told me I could take the Buff off my face. The moment that color returned to my eyes, the world seemed to fall away. I was standing about three feet from the edge of a gouge in the earth so massive that it appeared to have no bottom. The impossible geological feature in front of me was riddled with cracks and splits and passages and peaks. Layers upon layers of different colors told the story of the canyon in the walls of rock, for those wise enough to know how to read it. It was truly a staggering sight.

One of Many Times I’ve Wished I Were a Geologist

I spent the rest of the day walking along the rim and reading every single little informational board I could find. They translated the story of the rocks of the Grand Canyon for me. What really struck me was just how old even the top three layers of rock are. Millions of years were spent forming the layers, and another few million to carve out the path of the Colorado River. It’s humbling to realize that our landscape is constantly changing – how in another few million years, this place that humans treasure so much might have slowly been swept away from existence.

Standing on the rim, I can trace the Bright Angel Trail most of the way down into the canyon. Because of COVID-19, the trail is closed and we cannot go down there. I watch as it snakes lower and lower, past layers and layers of geological history. Someday, I’ll come back and run the Rim to Rim to Rim. I want to explore all of that history up close and personal.

Off Trail and Off the Radar

Now that we’ve arrived at the Grand Canyon, our time has come to leave the Arizona Trail. From here on, we’ll be making our way west towards California and mapping our own route as we go. It couldn’t have come at a better time. COVID-19 is getting to be more and more of a concern.

We are doing everything we can to negate our impact when it comes to this virus. Being off a designated trail will help keep us isolated from people. We are also using our support crew to our advantage. If we need a town day we will shuttle back to Flagstaff, thus staying out of small towns and communities that don’t have the resources to cope with an outbreak. We are sending only one or two people out to do town chores like resupply. They will take every sanitation precaution possible before leaving and after returning. We are essentially isolating ourselves in the desert.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to support my hike check out the links below and on the homepage for NAMI NH. I’ll be raising money for them for the entirity of this trip. Thanks for reading 🙂