Preparation the secret to hiking Grand Canyon

Gazing down from the rim at trails that snake and switchback their way into the canyon, a thought rises to the surface: Could I do this? Should I? The Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is beckoning.

The answer to the first question — Could I? — is: Probably. Kids do it. Old folks do it. The secret is knowing what you are getting into. Without preparing, you’ll likely survive it but likely will never want to go back; but if you know what you’re doing, you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll crave a return.

As to the second question — Should I? — the answer is obvious: You’ll regret it if you don’t.

The scale of the canyon is deceptive. Eyes trick you, distance and depth are difficult to judge, as some of the first Europeans to see the canyon found out the hard way. Pedro de Castenada, with the Coronado expedition of 1540, left this in his account: “From the top, they could make out, apart from the canyon, some small boulders which seemed to be as high as a man. Those who went down and who reached them swore that they were taller than the great tower of Seville.”

From the bottom of the North Kaibab Trail, with a pair of binoculars, you can turn around and see the Grand Canyon Lodge with its distinctive green roof on the north rim, but it’s many miles away with thousands of feet to climb.

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