Saturday, March 29, 2008

Power of place - part 2

Forces can frau you to a place or push you away from a place. The Grand Canyon South Rim provides a perfect example of this effect. The natural beauty, the grandeur of the space, the awe inspiring sense of exposed time reprsent sttacyice forces. But there are the repulsive forces at work that include the overwhelming numbers of people massing at the rim's edge or along the trails, the incredibly long waits to get a table for dinner, and even the dense clustering of buildings that though featuring historic sites does lend a commercial edge that detractss from the natural feel.

I have been to the South Rim several times though never this time of year. I knew it would be crowded but I was surprised by the sheer solize of the crowds we found not only st the rim itself but on Hermit trail, South Kaibab trail, and the inpaved portoon of the Rim trail. Mom and Dad felt the crowd pressure more than I did.

Despite the crowds we saw great beauty and took pleassure in being outdoors. On the Rim trail not far from the village we came eye to eye (almost within touching range) with several mountain goats. We marveled at the patches of snow nestled in the shade of evergreens. We tried to get in tune with the area but the throngs made that tough. People weren't rude there were just too many of them.

We didn't walk all the way to Hermits Rest. We squeezed into a park bus for the last few miles. Again I was stunned. Y the volume of people prsent especially on the trail itself. We only walked down perhaps a quarter mile to where views of the canyon below begin to really reveal themselves but that was enough.

That evening we waited and waited and waited to get a seat for dinner--easily 90 minutes. Perhap a cafeteria would haave been quicker. They're way overloaded. This put a damper on the day.

The next day, our last day as we decided to escape the crowded confines for Flagstaff, we hiked down South bKaibab to Skeleton Point. This is the most popular trail because of the expansive views it offers of the Inner Gorge. We would encounter people slogging their way back up. It is easy to forget judy how tough the ascent out can be and that is no doubt why so many get into trouble. With just a few exceptions I was able to ignore the noise of the people but I'd be lieing if I didn't say it didn't detract from what I know can be a remarkable experience. I know something spwcial was lost for all of us. However, even with this blemish on the hike we all had a very good time and were quite pleased with how we performed on the descent and ascent.

Photo: taken with my iPhone near O'Neil Butte.

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