Welcome to Grand Hikes, a Bob's Rock Shop feature dedicated to presenting my Grand Canyon hiking experiences and research through virtual hikes and related information. This feature is tailored and dedicated to other rockhounds and amateur geologists who are interested in the Grand Canyon, its geology, fossils, exploration and mining history, as well as how to go about visiting, hiking and appreciating the Grand yourself economically, enjoyably and in relative safety.
Grand Hikes incorporates a good deal of academic information gleaned from my own reading, research and learning, as well as a number of lessons derived from the school of hard knocks and practical experience. With Grand Hikes I endeavor to address what I considered shortcomings in a number of existing Grand Canyon hiking and trail guides I've pored over, and found to be lacking in satisfying detail from geological and rockhound perspectives, as well as just plain lacking in pictorial documentation of the unique and incomparable formations, scenery, flora, fauna and other visual attractions to be enjoyed and appreciated along particular Grand Canyon trails and routes.
The Grand Canyon has become an intellectual as well as spiritual Mecca for me. It seems the more I learn about the Grand Canyon, the more I want to see it, and the more I see it, the more I want to learn about it. Above all else, hiking the rims and interior of the Grand Canyon is a remarkable visual experience that eludes description with ordinary language, and taxes even the most talented artists and veteran photographers. While I read about Grand Canyon related topics voraciously, there is just no substitute for hiking the Grand Canyon first hand and experiencing it through your own eyes and other senses.
I seem to be driven by some kind of genetic proclivity to collect information, document and report back on what I've seen and learned when confronted with extraordinary places or events. While I've been fortunate over my lifetime to have enjoyed hiking, fishing, camping and skiing in some of the most scenic and rugged backcountry in Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington State, Western Canada, Utah, New Mexico and other places in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding country on the Colorado Plateau is simply and incomparably the most horizon expanding, jaw dropping, "Well, lookitthat..." region I've ventured into.
BTW, if you do not regard your back and feet as sensory organs, you may be inclined to change that view after some extended Grand Canyon hiking... Below its rim, the Grand Canyon backcountry can be some of the most dangerous, inhospitable, mentally and physically challenging country to hike and backpack on Earth, and people die doing that every year. However, many of these deaths could have been readily prevented through adequate research and planning, some basic backcountry savvy, and better attention to caveats from the voice of experience.
There are a great many trails and routes to hike and backpack in the Grand Canyon, literally thousands of miles of them. I've come to appreciate that no matter what your level of hiking experience, interests and ambitions, there are appealing and well matched trails at the Grand Canyon. The least demanding are very easy to hike and can be enjoyed in hour long stretches. There is even an extensive paved section of rim trail in the vicinity of Grand Canyon Village that is wheel chair accessible.
There are also remote trails and routes in the Grand Canyon backcountry that involve extremely steep terrain, precipitous exposures with scrabbly footing along narrow, cliff hugging ledges, scrambling through immense boulders and talus fields, days of traversing shadeless, waterless badlands and pants piercing scrub, and even ropes and technical climbing skills, as well as every intermediate gradient of difficulty, inconvenience, challenge and Grand adventure.
With Grand Hikes I hope that sharing what I've seen and experienced and continue to learn about the Grand Canyon and hiking it will inspire and facilitate others of similar disposition and feather to spread their own wings and fly.
Studies have revealed that the average tourist's once-in-a-life-time visit to the Grand Canyon lasts about 3 hours total, a great deal of which is spent in their cars or tour buses while they drive out of sight of the Canyon from one parking lot and crowded overlook to the next. I regard that statistic as sad and disturbing. But to be honest about it, I'm very thankful that the average stay is short and that only a tiny fraction of others venture away from the parking lots and the comforts and conveniences of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Their loss is the hiker's gain, leaving just that much more elbow room on the rim and corridor trails, and the solitude and vast expanses of wilderness and networks of trails and routes within the Grand Canyon backcountry unspoiled.
If you are a hiker or backpacker who has yet to do a Grand Hike of your own, I can't encourage you too strongly to start placing one foot in front of the other and get around to it. The Grand Canyon is deep and multilayered in complex and interwoven ways; a living, infinite fractal of profound depth is exposed along its trails and routes. No matter what your interests - nature and wildlife photography, climbing, geology, paleontology, archeology, ecology, herpetology, birding, wild flowers, mining and western frontier history, painting, star gazing, even fishing or just plain old "hiking" - if you spend just several days exploring the Grand Canyon backcountry, I guarantee you will leave with memories for a lifetime.
Here is untarnished wilderness, encompassing beauty, incredible antiquity, solitude, inspiration, revelation, and revitalization of the human spirit. You will carry away some good stories to tell in addition to a better sense of where you came from, who you are, and your place in things. And if your preparation and karma are less than perfect, maybe a blister or two to boot... You will know soon enough if you are a Canyoneer. If you are, greetings brother, and I also guarantee you will be back for more.