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The Grand Canyon

By: Nick H-J

We arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon around 10am after a night at Mather Campground.  For $18 we got a little camp site and access to water and bathroom facilities.  (I prefer the national forest we camped in for free the second night).

Once at the visitor center on the south rim we had a look at the routes for hikes… that is I had a look at the routes, and decided on Grand View Trail.  Most of the trails down into canyon were made by miners.  This one was made by miners employed by one Peter Berry who was operating Last Chance Cooper Mine on a small plateau called Horse Shoe Mesa.  It is shaped like a horse shoe (aha!) and at 4800 feet elevation is 2600 below the south rim.  The trail to Horse Shoe Mesa is about 3 miles one way.  We drove to the trail head and I set off leaving Chelle to sit and enjoy the view from a shady seat by the edge of the canyon.

If you should arrive at this sort of place (The SUPER MARKET pictured left (Really?) located in the middle of the Grand Canyon National Park) and have the experience I did, which is: ‘Man this place is touristy’, I suggest the following.  Pick the hardest, nastiest and most strenuous hike available and take off on it.  There were hundreds of people in the area along the edge of the canyon.  I saw a grand total of 5 other people on my three and a half hour hike.  Most people it seems like to pull up in their car and take a few pictures of the family in front of the view.  Then they like to get back in their car and go elsewhere to see the other views.  It was delightful to get down into the canyon away from everyone and into the middle of the view they were having from above.  After only a few minutes I could no longer hear the kids yelling and it quickly became just the scenery and me.

The quiet and solitude had me thinking about how things must have been before there were parking lots and vending machines at the visitor center.  Before you could just pull up and check this amazing place out without breaking a sweat.  It reminded me that this amazingly steep trail I was hiking for fun was constructed by people and mules in the days when a pulley was cutting edge building technology. The trail was used to carry loads of copper up and out of the canyon to be sold at market for a couple of hundred dollars.  This was before the time you could take a lovely helicopter ride through the canyon for a couple of hundred dollars.

Here is my advice about going to these touristy destinations: Don’t be discouraged that it’s so touristy, just get out of the tourists reach.  All that is required is to being willing to push yourself just a little further than they are.  You don’t have to outrun civilization to experience solitude and natural beauty.  You just have to out run the tourists, which is easy, because they are all eating hot dogs and drinking cokes in the air conditioning.

Also with regard to Grand Canyon Park in perticular, there is no need to pay $18 and be surrounded by other people while you are camping.  The park is nearly surrounded by national forests.  In these forests you can camp for free.  There is no checking in and no one else around. All you need is a vehicle that will get you out into the hundreds of miles of dirt roads that run through them.  Except when there is a fire ban in place for extremely dry weather fires are usually allowed.  National forests may be one of the last places run by the U.S. government where you are allowed to just show up and go in and enjoy yourself with out any supervision and they just expect you not to act like an idot.

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