The trip to Arizona was spectacular, but more than that, it was full of many new experiences for me. It would be what I actually consider my first time hiking anywhere, first time seeing a lava flow (let alone climbing up one), my first time climbing a volcano, and of course my first time seeing the Grand Canyon.
Day 1: Arriving at Arizona, seeing ASU and having dinner on a volcano.
This was our first arrival in Arizona; our first stop was Sedona where we saw the “red” rocks. The color was very rich, not just in the surrounding landscapes, but because of the fact that most of the houses where built with the same material. We where then introduced to sandstone at one of the scenic views. Our day ended with a dinner on top of one of the San Francisco Peak volcanoes.
Day 2: SP and Colton Volcanic Craters, and Black Point Lava Flow
Seeing a volcano up close was breath taking, and being allowed to climb to the base of one, and top of the other was awesome. It was this day that I faced some of my fears about climbing over something that didn’t look stable. I made it over the lava flow, which at times was difficult for me, fortunately, I had a good friend (Aaron) that waited patiently and helped me only if I asked. Going through this day made me more confident in actually climbing the second volcano, and later hiking down the Grand Canyon.
Day 3: Meteor Crater/Petrified Forest (within Painted Desert):
Although we did not get the chance to fully explore meteor crater, we did get to walk a part of it. Seeing meteor crater gave us some insight on how to compare the volcanic craters to impact craters.
The Painted Desert was one of my favorite places (the other being Sunset Crater). The colors of the desert are beautiful and I felt like I could just sit and look at the landscape forever. Although it is termed a “wasteland” and that’s true (one could never grow any sort of crops here), it still retains my wonder and admiration. All my pictures almost seemed unreal with the vibrant landscape behind it (see right).
Day 4: Grand Canyon!
Tanner had asked me at the end of the day, after some hiking within the Grand Canyon to describe the canyon in three words. My words where: Serenity, historic and GIGANTE! Serenity because you can easily find a spot away from everyone, stand at the edge and just look at the landscape, as the wind blows gently past you; its very peaceful. Historic is for the steps back in time that you take as you walk down into the canyon. GIGANTE (which needs to be said in a deep, loud announcer type voice) is self-explanatory, but I would be cheating if I did not mention the size of it in the description. The walk back up from the Angel Trail was difficult for me as I had a hard time breathing, but I am glad I did it. Having Dr. Shultz come up and explain a little of the geology that we were seeing was also rewarding. Physically seeing some of the geologic layering (rather than in a schematic) is a much more powerful teaching tool that I will always remember. The canyon is enormous and there is no way a picture can show that, but I tried.
Day 5: Sunset Crater
The last place that we visited, but another of my favorites. The reason that this ended up being one of my favorites is because you really get a feel of the destruction of the volcano. There are still trees that have been damaged from the lava flow, yet at the same time there is currently some new wildlife growing through the lava flow. I felt like this gave both a sense of the destruction that a volcano can do, but also how the volcano increases the richness of the land once everything is cooled.