I first visited Grand Canyon National Park in 1990 coming home from a Boy Scout summer trip to Philmont in New Mexico. I remember the anticipation of seeing this mile-deep gouge in the Earth’s surface. It rained the entire time we there, enough that the inside of our tents were completely soaked. We hiked the Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch and back in one day. We ate a lot of pizza that night. This trip was the first to truly inspire me to love the outdoors.
I have visited the Grand Canyon many times since. One highlight was an awesome trip I made with my friend Jeremy Long to Toroweap, along the North Rim and accessible by a 60 mile dirt road. I stood on a ledge 2,500 feet above the canyon floor. In hindsight, it was pretty dangerous and people have died from falling. It was a stormy morning, and it was beautiful.
Many of my other trips have been challenging. Several of my Summer/Autumn trips have had smoke from fires fill the canyon. During a recent Thanksgiving weekend, they were even doing a controlled burn near the North Rim!
Still, I come back, because the beauty and majesty of one of the incredible canyons in the world is just hours away. I will keep coming back. I wish I had pictures from that first trip in 1990, but it wasn’t meant to be. I was only 13, I wasn’t doing photography, and it was a really wet day on what was a very long hike.
I have found the overlooks to the East to be more my style. The overlooks in the West are more crowded, and, I just want some solitude and time to reflect.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.