It’s time for Part 3 of Field Study! Every time I look back on these photos, it lights this fire inside me to be in nature again. Now that the weather is finally warming up again, I can’t wait to get back outside and get back to exploring. That being said, this day was not an easy day, by any stretch of the imagination.
This was my second trip to the Grand Canyon, and my reaction was the same as it was the first time. Awestruck. It’s one of those things that pictures will never do justice, and I know that saying that is so cliché, but you really don’t know until you see it. It’s such a thrilling thought to know that things like this exist in our world, and really aren’t too far away (being in Michigan, that is). It may not be in my backyard, but it’s in the same country, and it’s only a plane ride away.
I still cannot fathom how impressive it is.
The night before this day, I wrote the following journal entry: “I can’t wait to go down into the canyon tomorrow! It is so cool to imagine what it must have looked like as it was forming, and the fact that these rocks have been in place for, literally, MILLIONS of years is mind blowing. I don’t know how to even begin grasping that concept. Personally, if I ever questioned the existence of God, I don’t think I really could after seeing the Grand Canyon. I think that it might be my favorite place on the planet.”
Here is a little bit of the science/history behind the Grand Canyon (note: I am not now, nor have I ever claimed to be, a scientist or historian… though I took a lot of notes in my Field Journal, which i’ll include below): The Grand Canyon began forming 1,840 million years ago, when volcanic island chains collided with the young North American continent. These collisions were violent, spewing magma and lava. Once things cooled down, roughly 1,400 million years ago, the rough foundation was formed. Rain and snow lead to erosion and created the smooth plain that functions as the basement of the canyon.
When these rocks formed, they trapped radioactive atoms in their crystal structure. The radioactive atoms begin to decay and take form. The time needed for half of the radioactive atoms to decay into a stable form is called the half-life. This measurement can be used to hypothesize the age of these ancient rocks.
1,200 million years ago, continents collided with North America, creating shallow marine basins that filled with water and then emptied, leaving behind sediment and opening them up to lava flow. As Pangea moved, the Grand Canyon was washed over, depositing Paleozoic rocks. If you’re interested in learning more, you can look at my Field Journal below, and you can always do a quick Google search to learn more!
On this day, we hiked down into the Grand Canyon. There is a reason that they tell you to start early, and pack a LOT of water. When I tell you that it get hot down in the canyon, that doesn’t even begin to explain it. We started early in the morning and set off on our adventure, as the sun was rising. It looks like a completely different planet. The climate is so bizarre, and the foliage that grows down there looks completely alien, and so beautiful. Of course, the hike down, in the shade, is a breeze…
We got about a half a mile down into the canyon before turning back. By now the temperature was well over a hundred, and we found ourselves piling on more layers. I ended up pulling my flannel out of my bag and putting it back on, because all the moisture in my body was trying to escape my body, and having sleeves helped to make me feel cool. I wish that I’d started hydrating earlier, and had forced myself to drink more, because I was feeling the thirst and fatigue as soon as we turned around. What feels like half a mile going down, feels like 6 miles coming back up, and we wanted to reach out and warn every person that we passed going down while we were trekking back up. I’ve heard horror stories of people falling ill in the Canyon, and I beg you that if you decide to go on this kind of adventure, prepare yourself. It’s an amazing experience, but it’s not worth heat stroke. You’ve been warned.
Late that night, I entered the following in my “Personal Thoughts” section of my journal, right below the line ‘I think that it might be my favorite place on the planet’: “After hiking down into the Grand Canyon, I’m not so sure that it’s my favorite place any more… The hike was brutal. I think it was the hardest, most physically taxing, terrible, heart-stopping, terrifying, yet awesome thing I’ve ever done. It was really scary. I do not like heights.” I promptly fell asleep after entering the last line. It was definitely a physical and mental challenge. We often found ourselves walking along edges with steep drops, (I’m obviously not a huge fan of heights) and finding ourselves weak and fatigued from heat and dehydration. That being said, it’s one of my favorite memories to look back on. The accomplishment that I felt falling asleep that night was unmatched, and I would do it again in a heartbeat (though I’ll be more prepared next time).
Until Next Time,