“The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.” – Allen Ashley-Pitt
Perhaps I went to one too many concerts in the dank, cave-like concert venues of Seattle. Perhaps it’s because I’m from a small community in a small town in a valley known for tulip farms. Perhaps it’s due to my preference for solitude instead of the hustle and bustle of a crowd. It’s probably a little of all of these things, but the fact remains: I hate being caught up in a crowd. So much so that I’ll skip out on a site or event if I feel like the crowd will be unbearable. Can’t do it.
So, when we went to the Grand Canyon this spring, I was quietly dreading the inevitable hordes of people pushing up against me, chattering incessantly, taking ridiculous amounts of selfies, and being generally obnoxious.
Sure enough, it was crowded. There was a line of vehicles leading into the park, and many more packed into the parking lots. People milled about in the walkways outside the visitor center, and the current of bodies flowed along the rim of the canyon like an army of ants. But then, we saw it…
…the Grand Canyon, in all of its splendor.
I learned something there, overlooking the gorge. Sometimes, as much as it might irk me to follow the crowd, the crowd just might have the right idea.
I could sympathize with the men sent by Spanish explorer García López de Cárdenas to find a way to the canyon floor in 1540. Their report when they returned several hours later was something of an understatement: “…what seemed easy from above was not so.” No kidding.
Cedar Ridge gave us the perfect vista of the vastness of the canyon. The scale of the land formation is mind-blowing, the power required for its making even more so. It’s the kind of sight you can’t help but be stupefied by.
Once we picked our jaws up off the canyon floor, we turned around and began the long haul back up the canyon walls towards the shuttle stop. There’s something about the uphill portion being at the end of the hike that made it all the more grueling.
We made another stop on the way back, wandering through the Desert View Watchtower. Bathed in the golden light of the setting sun, the Pueblan-inspired building stood silent vigil over a yawning landscape older than memory. The crowds had thinned by then, the throngs of humanity dispersed to their trailers and hotel rooms. We found a spot somewhat removed from those remaining and savored one last look. It had been–in every sense of the word–an epic day.
How about you? Have you ever visited a touristy or famous destination and been pleasantly surprised that it deserves the hype? Ever been disappointed? Share in the comments below!