I’m not a morn­ing per­son. I’m one of those late owl kinda guys, hap­pily stay­ing up long into the night. Nor­mally when I hear my alarm go­ing off at 4:30am, I’m not overly en­thu­si­as­tic. This morn­ing, how­ever, is an ex­cep­tion. I am in­stantly awake and raring

Say Yes To Adventure - - Features - Jared Buck­ley

4:45AM COMES AND goes but no sign of a bus. I be­gin to dig into my back pocket to re­trieve the bus timetable, silently pray­ing I haven't made a mis­take. Sud­denly two bright head­lights ap­pear from around the cor­ner, and we thank­fully join an al­most full bus­load of fel­low trav­ellers and hik­ers. The bus takes us five min­utes down the road to the main bus de­pot in the heart of the Grand Canyon Vil­lage, right next to the sprawl­ing vis­i­tors cen­tre. Here we wait pa­tiently to board an­other bus that will take us out to the start of the South Kaibab trail. Our des­ti­na­tion for this morn­ing's sun­rise spec­tac­u­lar is Ooh-Aah Point, a ti­tle given due to the gen­eral re­ac­tion the view gets from jaw-dropped vis­i­tors. It's only a 15-minute trip, but the bus feels as though it is go­ing back­wards as the hori­zon alarm­ingly be­comes brighter and brighter by the minute. “Will we make it in time?” is the one fear­ful thought that I con­tin­u­ally try to re­press. Fi­nally, at 5:45am we ar­rive at the start of the trail and quickly dis­em­bark at the start of the track with only five min­utes to make it down to the point. We start out at a brisk walk which be­comes faster and faster un­til we are into a full run down the trail, the fear of miss­ing those first flick­er­ing rays our mo­ti­va­tion.

The canyon be­fore dawn takes on a whole new look, with the usu­ally steep red walls be­com­ing a soft blue, grow­ing lighter and lighter as the sun draws closer to ris­ing. Rac­ing and slid­ing around the wind­ing canyon path we spot be­low a group sit­ting on a few large rocks jut­ting out from the cor­ner of the track. A sign con­firms we have ar­rived at our des­ti­na­tion. Chests heav­ing and lungs burn­ing we jump up onto one of the rocks to find a per­fect

view­ing spot. It's ob­vi­ous the sun is just mo­ments away from break­ing the hori­zon. Rip­ping open my bag I grab my cam­era and tri­pod and try to find a level spot as quickly as pos­si­ble with­out los­ing the whole thing down the 120-me­tre drop in front of us.

There's lit­tle won­der peo­ple find it hard to de­scribe the Grand Canyon.

It's the vast­ness of the view that grabs you – a grand, ma­jes­tic ta­pes­try of lines run­ning across the hori­zon; ridges and val­leys, layer upon layer trail­ing down­wards to the Colorado river be­low. The hue of the canyon walls is no longer a cool blue but now a dark red as the first sun rays peek over the far east­ern ridge. A sun­rise any­where on the right day is magic, but watch­ing it il­lu­mi­nate a whole canyon in front of you is some­thing else. We try to savour each mo­ment as our view is slowly filled with the warm morn­ing sun­light. Long shad­ows are drawn out from the many ridges and bluffs. Although there are 15-25 peo­ple there for the sun­rise, it's mainly silent apart from the odd cam­era shut­ter. Be­fore we know it, the sun is above the far canyon ridge and mov­ing steadily west­ward. Jer­seys and jack­ets are quickly dis­carded as the sun al­ready packs some heat. We con­tinue our jour­ney down­wards along the dusty red track to­wards our next stop, Skele­ton Point.

About an hour into our trek we de­cide it's time for a drink and sand­wich. Fin­ish­ing my last mouth­ful, I see Dan head over to the edge of the canyon and look­out. Turn­ing, he yells at me to get my cam­era out for a photo. I'm not sure if it was the heat or some­thing in the sand­wiches but be­fore I could get the lens cap off Dan was on the edge of the canyon, shirt off with the rest of his cloth­ing fol­low­ing suit! The sight of him stark naked, hands raised in the air in tri­umph over the canyon made me laugh so hard I al­most couldn't even take the pic­ture – a time­less clas­sic to show his kids some­day. For­tu­nately, noone was walk­ing up or down the trail at the same time!

Fully clothed we con­tinue down past Skele­ton Point, on to Trail Junc­tion and fi­nally down onto the black sus­pen­sion bridge across the Colorado River. It's now near­ing mid­day, around four hours since we left Ohh Aah Point, and the heat is mak­ing for hard walk­ing. Sweaty, hot and tired we grate­fully drop our packs onto the sandy banks of the river and swiftly be­gin re­mov­ing our boots and un­pack our tow­els. Sprint­ing into the wa­ter, I am ex­pect­ing a cool re­fresh­ing dip but am in­stead met with in­stant loss of breath and brain freeze! Never have I ex­pe­ri­enced a river so cold. I later dis­cover that the river is mainly fed by the melt­ing snow from the Rocky Moun­tains and agree that ‘melted snow' fits the de­scrip­tion per­fectly. Numb but re­freshed, we fin­ish the rest of our lunch ly­ing the sun at the bot­tom of the canyon and en­joy the in­cred­i­ble views around us, try­ing to ig­nore what is to come. The hard part. Up. My mem­o­ries of the re­turn leg back up con­sist mainly of look­ing down at my feet and mak­ing sure that I con­tinue to put one foot in front of the other. Legs and skin burn­ing, we slowly but steadily make it back up the 11 kilo­me­tres to the top and onto our bus be­fore fall­ing into our RV ex­hausted but ju­bi­lant.

We know we have ex­pe­ri­enced the very best the Grand Canyon has to of­fer. Ex­pec­ta­tions were high com­ing here, but with­out a doubt, this place has de­liv­ered with fly­ing colours. Ly­ing in the RV dirty, dusty and sweaty I can't wait un­til next time.

Jared Buck­ley is an as­pir­ing vis­ual sto­ry­teller, us­ing both still and mov­ing images to tell his ad­ven­tures. Born and raised in the South Is­land, he cur­rently lives and works in Auck­land where he is study­ing Film and Tele­vi­sion at the New Zealand Broad­cast­ing School. Pas­sion­ate about pho­to­jour­nal­ism and travel pho­tog­ra­phy, he's con­stantly dream­ing of his next over­seas ad­ven­ture!


FOL­LOW­ING PAGE: TheGreatAd­ven­ture – Ileana Soon is a de­signer and il­lus­tra­tor who was born in Bor­neo, Malaysia, ed­u­cated in Aus­tralia, and now is cur­rently based in Los An­ge­les. She is on a quest to cre­ate work that has emo­tional res­o­nance through the medi­ums of de­sign and film. www.ileanadraws.tum­


A sun­rise any­where on the right day is magic but watch­ing it il­lu­mi­nate a whole canyon in front of you is some­thing else.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.