Our Trip to the Grand Canyon

We took a lot of pics at the Canyon. So many. We actually took two photo tours, Kassi and I, the first at dusk and the other at dawn. I ended up spoiling some great opportunities on that first night due to a rookie equipment mistake (I’d inadvertently twisted the exposure knob to its lowest setting), but I think I was able to salvage a few satisfactory images out of it. It took a while to process all these, mostly due to the unusually large amount of panos I had to stitch together. But overall I was pleased with the results. It’s a much more satisfying set than last year’s, I think, where we stayed in Williams, AZ and were only in the Canyon for the early afternoon, in the harshest midday light. This year we booked a night in the park itself, and so had a little more time to explore on our own. My only regret was that I wasn’t able to practice any night photography at the Canyon because of the heavy cloud cover — a not completely unwelcome weather phenomenon that seemed to follow us from Red Rock and would accompany us the rest of the trip.

I love the Grand Canyon, though it gets dumped on by a lot of national park snobs. It has a rugged beauty and unique character all its own. No, we’ve not ventured into the Canyon just yet, not with small kids and a family of (let’s face it) varying fitness levels. But one day, maybe. Kass and I are talking about training to do the hike in a few years. The main thing that concerns me are my knees. No doubt I’d need to work on conditioning those for the merciless 8-mile staircase that is the ascent out of the Canyon. But I’d so love to experience it in that way, to put feet on ground and dip my hand into the Colorado River. To get some pictures from the inside — and yes, that means I’d be carrying some additional weight. But I think it’d be worth it for that kind of privilege and opportunity.

Another thing I love about the Canyon and Arizona/Utah in general is the abundance of corvids. Crows and ravens are highly intelligent animals, and can recognize and remember human faces for years. They are known to exchange gifts with people, and are more likely to do so with people whom they trust. Ravens are said to have fed the prophet Elijah in the desert, as well as Sts. Paul and Anthony, and St. Benedict in his cave. I believe God gives every animal its own genius, and it seems he has singled out the corvids for some special purpose related to human beings. I always think of these curious and remarkable creatures as friends whenever I’m lucky enough to be close to one. There were several that accommodated my desire to get them on camera, and I took a couple of photos this year with which I’m particularly pleased.

I hope you enjoy digging through this set, which includes some scenes from the wild west show at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, and from the wonderful train ride into the park. It’s an added experience that I’d highly recommend.

**A couple of extra notes — **

Just over half of these were taken with my Nikon P1000 superzoom, which includes all of the distance shots of the canyon floor and trails. I was really impressed at the quality of the shots I was able to get at full zoom without a tripod. It’s even able to put together some pretty impressive panos of its own. A few of those are among my favorites.

Our guide for the sunset tour was an interesting fellow. Went by the name of Benji. Very knowledgable about the park. Some eccentric mannerisms, I guess you could say. He dropped the name of his YouTube channel, The Canyon Raven, so often that it became sort of a running gag between Augie and I. When he finally started handing out business cards to people with his YouTube info on it, I just about lost it. I figured I really needed to check it out if the guy had gone through all the trouble to get cards printed out.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

Here in time for the Halloween season I present to you Death in the Canyon, a short film by a real Grand Canyon tour guide talking about the dangers and realities of visiting the park. Of particular interest to me was his mention of the people who go missing in the park.