Thursday, 3 July 2008

Holiday in Paradise!

In my 'debut' blog last week, I did promise not to make every blog of mine a collection of moans and grumbles at life's injustices. As therapeutic as that may be for me, it will almost certainly make for a very dull read for anyone else. That is assuming of course, that anyone else does indeed read this stuff! Doubtless I will need to get things off my chest - I'm long overdue a rant about the abominable treatment of 'Nellie' (my 1964 Morris Minor!) and I by other road users! Arrrrrrgghh!

Don't get me started! I'll save that for another time.

So, to try and enlighten you all as to what sort of things, other than my dear wife, make me squeal with joy, or at least say "Wow!", take a look at this......

The magnificent Grand Canyon - awesome or what?
(Photo by Splodge during tour by Papillon Helicopters)

Firstly, here's a few facts about Grand Canyon, taken from one of the best books covering the geology of the region: 'Carving Grand Canyon' by Wayne Ranney:- Grand Canyon is...

  • 277 miles long

  • on average 10 miles wide and 18 miles wide at its widest

  • on average 5,280 feet deep and 6,000 feet deep at its deepest

  • 7, 000 feet above sea level at the South Rim & 8,200 feet at the North Rim

  • and finally about 4.5 million people visit Grand Canyon each year!

Nothing, but nothing could ever prepare you for the emotional impact when you first set eyes on Grand Canyon. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, its awesome beauty is well documented, but it is the sheer scale that staggers the mind. 277 long miles long is about the same as the distance between Kendal and London roughly. So look at the above photo and try to envisage 277 miles of similar geological features!

If you are visiting Grand Canyon and want to get a handle on the sheer scale of this phenomenal natural wonder, a helicopter tour is I think essential. My family and I went with Papillon Helicopters who were quite excellent. There are many such tour operators offering tours of varying lengths and costs, but whatever your budget, just do it. You will not regret it!

It is said by many that to appreciate Grand Canyon at it's finest one needs to get up good and early and wait for sunrise. We did this twice and it was well worth the effort. Dawn temperatures in March are a little chilly, but a small price to pay given the spendour that unfolds before your eyes. As the sun slowly creeps over the rim, small patches of canyon wall begin to catch the light and the whole canyon magically comes alive.....

Grand Canyon South Rim at dawn, from outside Bright Angel Lodge.

(Photo by Grumpychops)

Now here's a staggering thought - 1.8 billion years of earth history is represented by the rocks exposed in Grand Canyon, the oldest being the vishnu schist at the bottom of the Canyon while the youngest rocks present are the Kaibab limestone at the top at a mere 255 million years old. The layers inbetween tell one of the most complete geological history stories on earth.

Even so, if you were to ask the simple question, 'How was Grand Canyon formed?' the only response to which all geologists will agree upon is that the Colorado River carved the canyon. Exactly how, when and under what circumstances has been the subject of fierce debate for decades and is likely to be so for the foreseeable future. Sadly, much of the evidence that could answer the questions has been long since eroded and washed away leaving huge gaps in the story. Research that is attempting to solve the puzzle continues apace. However, I suspect a complete answer will forever be tantalisingly beyond our reach!

I will delve deeper into the differing theories surrounding the formation of Grand Canyon in a future blog. Stay tuned and in the meantime, I'll leave you with another breathtaking photograph.



Grand Canyon South Rim from the South Rim Trail

(Photo by Grumpychops)

1 comment:

  1. I love the way your excited about your rocks. I look forward to when you start your course and you tell us about all your rocks in great detail.

    Aww. Aint you sweet!
    Love you ALyn! Hehe!


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