Hiking To the Ends of the Earth

Icy Waterfall Self Portrait

Last February, for my 30th birthday, I spent five days hiking in the Grand Canyon. Everything about the Grand Canyon is awesome, in the true sense of that overused word. Any one formation, any one side canyon, could be an entire park in itself; Zion could fit inside the Hermit Creek drainage. On foot, those formations and side canyons extend as far as the eye can see and after a few miles I began to feel like the whole world could fit inside the Grand Canyon.

On day three, I declared I was giving up hiking because everything would always pale in comparison to the Grand Canyon. Of course, I didn’t quit. The Grand Canyon didn’t ruin the rest of the Earth for me – since February, I have hiked many miles in many spectacular places. Each place is wondrous in its own way, just some more obviously than others.

Setting out on this most recent road trip – Pennsylvania to Vermont – I had little to no idea where I was heading until Tuesday morning, when I pulled out my Adventure Atlas and decided that it was about time I checked out the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

World’s End: no TV, no cell service, no internet = Perfect place to escape election night lunacy!

First, I stopped at World’s End State Park to spend election night in the woods, without TV, internet or cell service. I got the good news the next morning, blessedly free of drama and squabbling. Hallelujah!

After a celebratory morning hike, I set out on back roads, laughing at the vanquished political signs, and arrived at Leonard Harrison State Park on the east rim of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. After a lecture from a well-meaning park ranger about the dangers of hiking alone, I set off – alone – down the Turkey Trot trail into the gorge.

Danger! Danger!

After hiking down into the real deal Grand Canyon, no other descent will ever quite compare. To be fair, there is no point in making a comparison. The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is 47 miles long, 1,450 feet deep and one mile wide. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 6,000 feet deep and up to 17 miles wide. They’re not even in the same Earthly realm, despite the man-made monikers. I reached the bottom of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania in less than 20 minutes. Even with a good long sit next to to the river and a distracted ascent alongside photogenic icy waterfalls, the whole round trip trek took me less than two hours. Not so epic, but a lovely little jaunt!

Sitting on the bank of Pine Creek, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

Starting the 800-foot climb out of the canyon. Do this climb six times in a row and you’ll have the Grand Canyon.


The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

On to New York! Revisit the one and only Grand Canyon with my posts on descending the Hermit Trail, Monument Creek & the Colorado River, crossing the Tonto Platform, Plateau Point, and Bright Angel Snowstorm.

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
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4 Responses to Hiking To the Ends of the Earth

  1. lesuperkikke says:

    feeling of freedom

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the Pennsylvania “petit Canyon” with us today. Love it, traverse this eight times and you’ve done the grand canyon. Sounds like a great place to train!

  3. Elisa's Spot says:

    I live an hour from there! It’s beauuuuuuuuuuuuuutiful isn’t it?

  4. Pingback: Road Tripping PA to VT: By the Numbers « Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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