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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Grand Canyon

June 20

In 1996 I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. I was back in 1997, in 2000 and in 2010. And I assume I will keep coming as long as I can travel. What's the secret of the Grand Canyon? Well, first of all it is presumably the biggest "hole" on Earth, a hole which was dug by a river, the Colorado River. It is 277 river miles long,  10 miles wide (at Grand Canyon Village) and about 1 mile deep.

A trip to the bottom of the Canyon and back is a two-day-trip by foot or mule. A rafting trip on the river can take two weeks or longer. Trips to or along the bottom of the canyon undertaken in the summer tend to be an ordeal. The reason is the relentless heat. Or what do you think of 125 F (about 50C) for walking with a back-back?

Weather is extreme in that area. in October there was frost in the morning on water puddles, another year in October it was foggy and rainy. In July it was too hot to sleep, in march I was watching the Canyon during a snow shower, but at all visits it was just an amazing experience. The sunsets from the South Rim are simply spectacular. The Grand Canyon National Park is the most visited National Park of America. 

As diverse as the weather is the nature of the park. Crowned by large Ponderosa Pine forests on the plateau, vegetation gradually changes according to temperatures and how far deep down in the canyon you are.

There are approximately 1,737 known species of vascular plants, 167 species of fungi, 64 species of moss and 195 species of lichen found in Grand Canyon National Park.

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