Splinter Cell 2: July 21 – Grand Canyon West!

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GCW2

A subset of our hikers missed out on our usual Oahu hike for the second time in a row in July, but they had a very good reason… OK, I’m going to stop writing in the third person now, and just say that I missed y’all, but I was really freakin excited to see the Grand Canyon for the first time ever!

Grand Canyon West

The Grand Canyon WEST is a new attraction being developed by the Hualapai nation only about 3 hours from Las Vegas. It really is new – the road is pretty much unmarked and very remote and the last few miles are dirt. There are a few buildings, like the Visitor Center, and the much-touted Skywalk, but many things are under construction, including a restaurant and hotel. Things are pretty informal at this point and there are no guardrails in sight, although there were burly Hualapais in a few area to keep us from doing anything foolhardy.

Despite the unfinished and informal feel, the place is not cheap. You can count on paying about $75 a person to be bussed to the several overlooks, fed, and allowed onto the Skywalk. The day we were there, it began to rain just as we got to the Skywalk and they weren’t allowing anyone out. They seem to have done something to the Skywalk involving surrounding it with a lot of wood and an entrance building, the overall effect of which was to make it look very unremarkable. In any event, we were able to visit several sites with unbelievable canyon views. At the site where a buffet lunch was provided, picnic tables lined the very edge of the canyon, some of them vertiginously tilted down toward the rim. We watched as ominous clouds and a wall of rain moved across the canyon. Jagged bolts of lightning charged the air with static and made hair literally stand on end. Startled groups of ravens took flight against this spectacular backdrop. At a small outdoor market, I bought an exquisite fetish with a central corn figurine surrounded by tiny carved animals, all residents of the canyon area, and meant to bring happiness, fulfilment and love.

The rain began to come down in sheets and didn’t let up. It all felt a bit dangerous and forbidden to be there in such conditions. I feel a little guilty that we wound up paying nothing – the Hualapais were refunding admission because everyone got “rained out.”

GCW3

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