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Happy birthday, Grand Canyon!

I guess nobody really knows the exact moment it happened six million years or so ago, but on Feb. 26, 1919, the Grand Canyon was designated a National Park, thus protecting it from Canyon2_2 development, except for the virtual jam-packed city on its south rim. (Not that I am dissing the south rim; I had one of the best showers of my life at the campground's pay showers there.)

It's not the deepest canyon in the world (both Idaho and Mexico have deeper ones). But for sheer, jaw-dropping vastness, it's hard to beat.

I've been down in the canyon a few times, and not down those easy Bright Angel/Kaibob trails, either. (Let's just say that these days my knees would have issues with the pounding they got on the Thunder River/Deer Creek loop, even though I hiked it not all that long ago.) Once you've been down and back, you start reading about it. I got on a roll with Edward Abbey's essays, as does everyone who's ever been to the Southwest. They're great. And I've read a few interesting histories as well: Stephen L. Pyne's How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History and FIre on the Rim: A Firefighter's Season at the Grand Canyon.

I can also recommend the late Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time - he walks through the Canyon - with a big caveat: Remember he published it in 1968, when nobody stopped to think it was an atrocious idea to, like, sleep in Indian ruins, thus destroying them, though perhaps they should have, being hippies and all. But then, Abbey liked throwing beer cans out the window, so...


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Edward Abbey on the Canyon:

"It was here before humankind was even a twig on the evolutionary tree of life and it will be here when we are gone. The Canyon endures the trifling busyness of humans as it does the industry of ants, the trickle-down erosion of storm and ice, the transient insult of the upstream dams. Those things shall pass, the Canyon will outlive them all. . . .

"It is an honor to be a visitor at the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, as it is an honor and a privilege to be alive, however briefly, on this rare, sweet, delicate, one and only planet we call Earth."

Jill Cassidy

Abbey also said: "A drink a day keeps the shrink away."

I have to say, I thought The Man Who Walked Through Time was quite an achievement in making the Grand Canyon seem boring. Maybe it's just me.

For a different type of Grand Canyon book, try People of the Blue Water by Flora Gregg Iliff. She was a teacher back in the day when whites were still trying to "civilize" the Indians, and she went to teach at Havasupai. She was more insightful and compassionate toward the people than many of her peers. It is a good read.


My favorite book on the Grand Canyon is Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry. A true classic.


You know, I have that book, and one of these days I'm going to read it.

And you know, I KNEW I liked Edward Abbey.

But of course the real question is: what do you think of the Sky Way?


Awwww, good old Brighty! I remember him. I liked that book too. Though it was no Misty of Chincoteague or its sequel, Stormy: Misty's Foal.

Jill Cassidy

You mean the Skywalk? O.M.G. You do not have enough time to read all my opinions on that topic. But let me summarize: You have to pay $75 to go on it for 15 minutes. And you can't take your own camera. Reason? If you drop it, it could damage the structure. Honest, that's the reason. But you can buy a photo of yourself out there for $20 or so.


You know those cardboard disposable cameras are really dangerous! You could put an eye out.

Brett Bayne

Are there any rules about going out on the GC Skywalk and just jumping up and down as hard as you can to try to make the thing tumble into the abyss? I know it would be impossible, but it would sure make other people nervous.


In other Grand Canyon related news: I started the new Stephen White book this morning and it referred to Bright Angel Trail as having no constant source of water for hikers...but that's not true. It does. Seasonal water, says GC expert Jill, plus water all year at Indian Gardens.

So Mr. White...you're not right.

Jill Cassidy

I would totally pay 75 bucks to go on the Skywalk when Brett was out there jumping up and down on it.

Brett Bayne

Hey, trust me, after the scene I cause at the Skywalk, those numbnuts will WELCOME the "threat" that disposable cameras pose to their so-called monument.

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