Ok, so…yeah. Those ant-sized things are people. Not just one or two, but several. Idiots, knuckleheads, thrill-seekers, whatever you want to call them – those people may as well have a martini in one hand and a come-hither look on their faces because they are FLIRTING with Death.
“Guard rails” (and I use the term very loosely) occur intermittently along the rim of the Grand Canyon, and usually only at the places where the shuttle stops. That means for the miles and miles of unguarded trail, there may be a combined 100 linear feet of any type of railing. So yes, the odds of falling off the edge are pretty high, even on the maintained Rim Trail, and the chances go up exponentially when one chooses to go off the beaten path. More than 11 people have died this year in the Grand Canyon – 3 on the river, 5 for a physical reason (heat, exhaustion, etc), and 3 have fallen off the rim. (Others have died in car accidents in the park)
Soooo…why am I writing this post? Not to scare anybody. I wasn’t scared to visit there. I did some research and prepared the way I was advised to. Plenty of water and snacks, protection from the sun, resting often – you know – COMMON SENSE sort of things. What I didn’t need to read or have anyone tell me was, “Stay away from the edge!” I really just want to encourage you to respect this kind of death-defying beauty.
“You bettah respect” … “R-E-S-P-E-C-T – find out what it means to me” … “Give a little respect to-o-o-o meeeeee” … You know, that type of thing.
A sales lady at REI recommended some light reading in the form of a book called Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon (you can find your copy here!) I didn’t get the book ahead of time, but when I visited the gift shop, there was a whole wall of ’em, so I picked one up. I think I’ll crack it open the next time I’m feeling especially ensconced in my suburban security…