Major step of this road trip in the United States, emblem of the Far West and the great American spaces: the Grand Canyon! It is a destination that has always fascinated me, probably because cousins lived in Arizona when I was ten years old and sent me postcards of dream … I thought at the time that ‘ Was so far away that I would probably never go. It has finally become reality, and, it is even better in truth. Surprising, unique, immense, vertiginous. It was admired from different points of view, throughout the day, until the highlight of the show: the sunset. !
Arrival by the North. Coming from Utah (north of Arizona), one arrives by the north face of the Grand Canyon. It falls well, it seems that it is the least tourist area, more wild but also less accessible – especially in winter. On the road to get there, one crosses a forest of pines and then clear glades, one feels almost in a Nordic country. Nothing to do with the desert and the plateaus of the south face, here it is higher and the climate is cooler. Before we arrive, we stop in a petrol station where we buy ponchos in case … The sky is threatening. We are afraid of the hike to come, we read and heard that it was not simple … But hey, it is the Grand Canyon, it deserves a little no?
The postcard, really. First unavoidable stop: the Visitor Center, I buy postcards for my family and friends. You can even put a stamp on the passport “I went to the Grand Canyon”. It is also the right time to meet the rangers (this title sounds cooler than rangers), always in their boy scout accoutrements. It gives us tips and maps for hiking (yes, we already decided to do several during the day). Outside, there are superb wooden lodges in the forest – imagine perfect small log cabins in logs – some even overhang the canyon. We are approaching the first panorama on the Grand Canyon … the view is stunning! Difficult to grasp so it is immense, as far as the eye can see. In the distance, the desert plateau of the South Rim … The width of the canyon varies from 5.5 to 30 km: to go on the other side, whether you take the car or go on foot, it would take Very long hours …
First trek: Widforss Trail. We go quietly on this path, which we followed for about 2 miles; It runs along a ridge, it is very marked with 14 points of comments to locate. We take the time, we walk in the forest, then we approach the edge … It is sublime and gigantic, but it feels like a little away: the canyon seems very far from us. On the way back, we find a doe that remains frozen (like us) at our approach. I really wonder if I would have liked to find myself nose to nose with a bear or a puma.
The North Kaibab Trail: between geology and sweat. We were strongly advised to go down into the canyon to get the best of its size and to appreciate the different geological layers. The North Rim is quite high – at this point it is 2512 meters above sea level, the trail that goes down at the bottom is still 14 miles is too much, so we will content ourselves with a small portion . It is a path usually taken by mules (one can descend on their back), so one zigzags to avoid the droppings. We arrive quite quickly at the Coconino View, the first stop, we sit on the edge and from there we clearly see the different layers of the canyon; It’s great to say that it’s a good part of the history of the planet that’s there before our eyes – the canyon would be 55 million years old and some of the rocks outcropping would have 1.7 billion, Years. At the time of the trek, the team splits: Pierre and Leo decide to go up and I let myself be persuaded by Manu to continue the descent with him … I do not especially want to do it, but it is hard to Refuse with unstoppable arguments like “one is only there once” and “I will not let it come down on its own”.
It is for the descent, “a notch” lower, in other words a lower geological layer. You really see the rock change color, the vegetation become different, and even the air and temperature. It is warmer … We go down quickly, almost running. Upon reaching down to the Supai Tunnel (2073 meters above sea level), we think we would have liked to have gone farther, we see a bridge a little lower, but the storm threatens and we must go up . I put myself in survival mode: the ascent will be rude. Very rude. It is time to take advantage of these months of sport and sweat in the American way to go up the Grand Canyon.