Days 31-33, Grand Canyon

May 11-13, 2005: The Grand Canyon. ...Well, what else can be said about the Grand Canyon? It's a favorite spot for airline pilots to point out and a favorite tourist destination -- not only Americans but people from all over the world. ...For good reason, of course, because there is no other place like it in the world.

Ten miles wide with an elevation change of 4,600 feet, the Canyon is the work of millions of years of erosion by water, wind, and other natural forces. Geologists speculate that the lowermost levels at the bottom of the canyon are actually the earth's original crust.

At an elevation of over 7,000 feet, the rim of the Grand Canyon is on average a little bit cooler in temperature than other parts of Arizona. There can be a 20-30 degree difference in temperature between the rim and the Colorado River level below. The night I arrived at the Canyon, it was freezing. Actually below freezing -- the nighttime low temperature went down to 24 degrees (and I tent-camped that night, too. All I can say is the special fill in sleeping bags really *does* keep you snug.)