So many journeys, so many memories. After all life is one long journey of constant discovery. To choose one for this post in response to Skinnywench’s challenge sent my mind spinning back through my years of travel memories.
Sue,aka Skinnywench of “a word in your ear” sets a weekly challenge by opening her dictionary at a random page and choosing a word. This week the word is “journey”.
I chose this memory of my visit and journey into the Grand Canyon for 3 reasons
- It is an unforgettable wonder of the world
- It is an opportunity to look back through my old photo albums and resurrect some of them to digital images.
- In response to a virtual chat (via the comments section) with Cindy Knoke, click here to see her interesting post about her visit to the canyon and photos as it is now. So Cindy here is my visit and photos…
In September 1991 we purchased a Delta Airpass, (remember Delta? Now long gone) We planned a whirlwind tour around some of the many iconic places of USA. New York, Niagara Falls, New Orléans, Austin, Florida and many more, it was a long list but of course impossible to see everything in a month.
Using Delta was such an easy way to get around, just choose a destination, turn up at the airport and the friendly staff would work out the best way to get to your destination. I had mapped out a rough itinerary and we had a thick catalogue of all the dates, times and destinations Delta covered to help us make decisions. Back then I used a Olympus SLR camera and film. No way of knowing what the image looked like before developing it. How much easier photography is now in the digital age. So I have an album full of images and I spent a very pleasant day looking through them and choosing the images for this post, then scanning them into the computer.
We flew into Flagstaff and booked into the YHA. I do not remember much about the building, but I do remember the noise of the freight trains continually passing through town. I high-pitched whistle as it approached, then the banging and clattering as they shunted back and forward, then another ear-shattering toot,toot,toot as it left town. At one point Jack took the mattress off the bed and stuffed it across the window and we tried to sleep on the very uncomfortable innerspring base.
Next morning we palled up with Chris, a New Zealander traveling on his own and living on peanut butter sandwiches or, when he couldn’t afford bread, he would just eat spoonfuls of the brown “gunk”. He was a friendly, long, lean Kiwi. We hired a car between us to drive to the Grand Canyon. Chris drove we paid for the petrol, or should I say gas?
The first sight of this wonder of nature is forever etched into my memory. The crowds, the noise, the hustle and bustle faded into the background as I stood transfixed with the grandeur of the Canyon spread before me. Then I tried to capture the spectacular vista on film.
We’d decided to walk the Bright Angel Trail down into the canyon as far as the lookout over the Colorado River. The deeply rutted track made walking very difficult. Do you hop from the top of the ridge to ridge, or high-step over and into the depressions, either way it was hard work. Going down I stopped constantly to take photos and marvel at the view unfolding before me, watch the wildlife, big-horn goats, squirrels and the not so wild mules plodding along teetering on the edge of monumental drops with white-knuckled riders bumping along on them. Going down I remember thinking I prefer the safety of walking, that view changed as I slogged back up.
finally reaching the lookout we gazed down on the turbulent Colorado River snaking along the distant valley. We took a well-earned rest. I noticed people soaking bandanas, handkerchiefs, scarves in fact any sort of material and draping it over their heads. A sign of what was to come. We started the walk back up. The sun became a ball of fire reflecting back off the rock face. The heat was intense. The track was steep. Those ruts became mini mountains. I ran out of water. I sweated. I wished I’d booked a mule.
If you look carefully you can just see the Bright Angel Trail we had walked along in the valley
As I write this I can feel the agony of my leg muscles, up and over the ruts then a stop. Next try hopping or rather stumbling from ridge to ridge, then another stop. Jack soon left me behind, “it’s harder for me to go slow” he said. I struggled on…
Eventually I reached the top…
Oh that incredible feeling of achievement as I smugly looked around at the bus-loads of Asian tourists as they spent 10 minutes taking photos of each other in front of this monumental vista, before boarding their bus to be whisked to the next viewing spot.
I had done it. Walked down into the Grand Canyon. It took 3 hours to walk down and 5 hours to stagger back up. WOW….