I first saw Grand Canyon from about 28,000 feet on a commercial flight headed back to Florida after 5 days in Vegas.
I was born in Maine, raised in New Hampshire. I had the White Mountains of New Hampshire as a playground growing up. Skiing, snowmobiling, and mini- bikes filled my youth depending on the current season at hand. I never considered myself a hiker. No, I was a wanderer.
So upon seeing Grand Canyon from this lofty advantage I told my wife that we should probably come back and check out Grand Canyon from the ground. If she reacted I certainly didn’t see it.
Six months later we are flipping thru the channels and I see some whitewater rafting on the screen and I pause my thumb from advancing to another channel. The announcer is talking Colorado River so we knew it was Grand Canyon. We continued to watch. The show went on to talk about The Grand canyon Lodge on the North Rim. It talked about those who are drawn to the canyon and for the reasons why they are drawn. What caught my ear was a statement made by the announcer. We said that out of all the visitors that go to Grand Canyon, only 10% make it to the North Rim. They talked about the cabins at Grand canyon Lodge. A small handful of which sit directly on the rim.
I decided then and there. If I were to go to Grand Canyon I want to go to BOTH rims just to see wthat the “other 90%” are missing. I also figured, if I was going to do that I may as well try and get one of those cabins that sit right on the rim. With a 20th wedding anniversary a couple years away I thought what better timing.
I did my research. I called and asked a lot of questions. I got what looked like all the information I needed to make an attempt to get one of these prized cabins with a direct rim view.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought. Timing is everything. I managed to get 3 nights in Cabin #5 with a Western Rim view. Little did I know I was in trouble already…..
Other than the 5 days in Vegas mentioned earlier, neither my wife or myself had spent any time in the South West area of the U.S. We are both from the North East and live in Florida.
We flew into Phoenix and spent the night. Early the next morning we started driving up to North Rim. We knew it would be a day long drive with a few stops and a lot of sights. We had no idea what was in store for us…..
The cactus we saw as soon as we hit the north side opf Phoenix started it for me…. Then the haystack hills of Sedona. Flagstaff was a lunch stop and we were tempted to spend the nifght there but we had a journey to continue. North out of Flagstaff the scenery only got more amazing for me. The painted desert. The Colorado palteau. It was so much to see and take in in the short time we had as we drove further to the North. Once we crossed the Colorado and checked out the Navajo Bridge area, we continued on the way to Grand Canyon Lodge. The drive was great. Higher up we went. Ears popping like they do when I visit back in New Hampshire. Nothing in Florida is high enough to make your ears pop.
Arriving at Grand Canyon Lodge we really had not seen any canyons really. On the approach a half mile out you get a good glimpse on the left side of the road , through the trees but not really a good look at a canyon yet.
That all changes as soon as we checked in and stepped. out on the foyer where we saw about 850 cubic miles of GRAND CANYON.
Upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, there, on the foyer of Grand Canyon Lodge, after that very scenic drive, I looked at my wife and to this day I can’t believe what the first words out of my mouth were. And I quote “Lorraine, I can’t look at this right now.” ” I think I am on scenery overload.” Unquote. We quickly found our cabin. Verified it did indeed have a direct view of the canyon.I then proceeded to lay in bed and read a book. I had to let things from the drive sink in before I could even think of the Grand Canyon sinking in. Later fter dinner we made it back to the cabin and sat in bed and watched as the sun set and the shadows changed the view with each look and glance.
We managed to ride mules down into the canyon half way I was told. To Hopi tunnel. Our mule wrangler was Ron Clayton. World renowned wrangler I should say. I have been told many times we rode with the best. No doubt in my mind.
We walked arouns the rim a lot too. Checked ouit all the points. Sunrises and sunsets. Gorgeous each one.
After the last night on North Rim, we ventured around and down to the South Rim Village for 3 more nights. We hiked down Bright Angel trail a bit. Ate dinner at El Tovar. It was a amazing vacation. An amazing anniversary. An amazing eye opener. Our mule wrangler Ron Clayton, saw in me what he sees in a handful of people he takes into the canyon. After just a few hours with me Ron saw that the canyon had quite an effect on me. It had a definite affect on me. Ron told me I needed to see this canyon the way it is supposed to be seen. He suggested I get on the Colorado river and raft through Grand Canyon. I had no interest in that I thought to myself. Hell I hadn’t camped out in 40 years.
I realized Ron Clayton was right. I read a lot about the developers who want tpo build a tram in essence to take people down to The Confluence of the Little Colorado and the Colorado rivers. Why??? Why would anyone want to buiold anything….. there??? I figured I better get there before the developers do…..
Memorial Day 2105 I launched from Lee’s Ferry on an 8 day motor trip to Pearce (Pierce) Ferry. My limited vocabulary in no way comes close to being enough to even begin to describe the epic adventure this turned out to be. The guides were top notch. Their knowledge was limitless. The stories riveting. The scenery ….. Nope. I won’t even attempt.
Each night after dinner I would return to my cot and weep upon thinking what I was experiencing, where I was experiencing it!!!! 56 years old and a damn canyon river trip makes me cry my eyes out. 7 nights in a row….
I turn 60 in 2019. I am starting to get in shape for a rim to rim hike for my 60th birthday. I want to spend 2 nights at Phantom Ranch.
I would love to see the Havasui area of Western Grand canyon with all the falls. And while I am at it a winter night or two at El Tovar I am sure is scenic as can be with snow on the canyon walls…..
So, If you haven’t gathered by now, Grand Canyon means the world to me. I discovered our National Parks way late in life. I hope to see many before I depart this mother earth. I have a promise to my niece to introduce her and her children to the National Park System and all the wonder that the National Parks hold. From Arcadia to Yosemite I want to share it all with them.
Thats my story and I am sticking to it!!!!
Jeffrey M Tuttle