Travel Writer Francesca Adams tells us why the Grand Canyon was the highlight of her cross-country trip through America
All too often we hype something up so much that when it comes to actually doing it, it can be disappointing. When I spontaneously booked a month-long solo trip travelling from New York to LA, my mum was terrified that it would not live up to my expectations. I spent nearly every waking hour researching, googling images and writing lists of everything I wanted to do. My mum kept urging me to stop researching so much, as places were rarely like the pictures and she didn’t want me to be disappointed. She was right to a certain extent. My trip did not live up to my expectations. It absolutely exceeded all expectations and was far better than I could have imagined. Although every place I visited brought something new and exciting, there was no place more breath-taking than the Grand Canyon. Being a natural wonder of the world, it is unsurprising that it features on so many people’s bucket lists.
For two nights, I stayed in the beautiful Yavapai Lodge on the Canyon’s South Rim, cramming as much into my days as possible. Upon arrival, a group of us headed out to Mohave Point, the perfect spot for catching the last rays of the day. It is a popular spot, but we found a secluded rock looking over the Canyon and onto the Colorado river. I felt on top of the world as I watched the sun descend on one of nature’s most beautiful creations.
After 24 days in America, the day I had been most excited for was finally here. The day I got to take a helicopter flight over the Canyon before trekking part of The Bright Angel Trail. I chose the hour flight over the 30-minute flight, which is definitely worth the money. I was lucky enough to be seated next to the pilot, so I had the most magnificent view. For the first 10 minutes we flew over the Kaibab National Forest before soaring over the edge of the canyon. There are no words to describe that moment. It feels as if you are flying over the edge of the world. Everyone in the helicopter felt a wave of emotion surge over them. We were speechless. We flew at 9,000 feet above sea level, 1,000 feet higher than the canyon, over the North rim, the Colorado river and past ‘The Dragon’, a rock that resembles (if you use your imagination a bit) a Chinese dragon. Hands down, flying over the Canyon was the best experience of my life.
After the helicopter ride, myself and two friends decided to walk down into the Canyon. There is the option to walk around part of the rim, a much easier, flat walk, but we could not refuse the opportunity to go into the Canyon itself. After all, it is not every day you can say you have been into the Grand Canyon. The Bright Angel Trail is 7.8 miles and as much as we would have loved to trek to the end and back, we did not have the time. We reached what I can only describe as ‘Simba’s rock’ before we started the difficult ascent back to the top.
To end the perfect day, our group ventured out to Hopi Point to catch our last sunset in the Canyon. We took sandwiches and a few drinks, played music and relaxed as we reminisced over our trip so far. I do not think any holiday will live up to my trip around America and I do not think that any experience will beat soaring over the Canyon.
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