These photos are from the Grand Canyon and maybe some surrounding areas, I can’t quite remember, back in October 2002. My dear friend Dana came out from Colorado and met me. I have a vague memory that we were both attending conferences or meeting clients or something like that in Arizona.
Dana – did we also go to Tucson on this trip?
We hiked two or three miles into the Canyon. I, of course, always pack for a hike, even to the Great Blue Hills in Boston, as if I’m embarking on the Oregon Trail. God forbid I run out of food or contact lens solution. So I’m always astounded when I see people hiking who are a tad less prepared. I run across this a lot in national parks. I remember seeing a woman hiking down the Grand Canyon path in skinny heels. Seriously.
I realize that the trail off the North Rim is well traveled, but the Grand Canyon is deceptively dangerous. You hike down first, and then up. So it can be hard to gauge just how tired you are. Also it gets hot. Very hot. There are warning signs everywhere about drinking enough water. Dana, a newspaper editor, and I are both insatiably curious, so we cornered a ranger and barraged her with questions. She said that in the summer they have an emergency medical evacuation every day. It’s so hot that the rangers recommend hiking at dawn and then stopping and sitting in the shade from 10am until 4pm. Really. And then continuing. She said it gets so hot midday inside the canyon that it is physically impossible to drink fast enough to stay hydrated.
In one of the gift shops I stood and read a book called Death in the Canyon. It’s a serious study of all the ways people die in the Grand Canyon. I wanted to buy it but felt it was bad karma. Soon afterward I was meeting with clients in Phoenix and somehow started talking about the book with one of the project architects. The next time I saw her she gave me a copy. She said she was “loaning” it to me. So I could avoid the bad karma of owning the book. I’ve been borrowing the book now for almost 10 years.
In case you’re wondering, the two key factors making it more likely you will die in the Grand Canyon are: being young (20s) and being male.
There are a lot of truly stupid, Darwin award situations that people have put themselves (and their children!) into. Maybe I’ll post a few of them later this week.
In the meantime, here is the result of bringing my camera cans down into the canyon with me.