The Grand Canyon & Flagstaff (April 2006)

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Thirteen miles wide, one mile deep, 227 miles long. It is so deep that there are few places that the average visitor can see the Colorado river, it is hidden by gorges and cliffs within gorges and cliffs. From the green plateau on the right of the picture it is as nearly as deep again to the river base.

At this time of year it is feasible for the fit to hike to the base and back in a day, however knowing nothing about the trail I did not want to risk it and was was lucky enough to do the journey over 2 days as I was able to book a 4 bed hut (knowing I could fill it with others keen to do the hike) at the bottom on a last minute cancellation (people book these up to 2 years in advance).

By mule, or on foot?

I'm glad I walked. Much of the trail (especially the lower half) is on the edge of a sheer cliff face and the mules often follow the bends on the cliff-side edge of the track - not for the faint hearted. No riders have fallen but pack mules are occasionally lost over the edge.

Spot the mule train in this picture:

One of the lower gorges.

Spot the hiker on the cliff path in this picture:

Only 1% of visitors go off the rim of the canyon. Of that a small portion make it as far as Indian Gardens and Plateau Point (5 miles) this is the halfway point - it is categorised as a day hike and most turn back here. Ironically the most spectacular part of trail, invisible from the rim is after this point.

Relief - we've made it.