Many of Harvey ButchartÕs routes drop down cracks in steep ravines and traverse narrow ledges with nothing more than meager finger-holds with which to balance oneÕs weight. They follow faint game trails, tight twisting side canyons and boulder clogged, vertical-walled creek beds. There are dead-ends at dry waterfalls and false starts at a canyonÕs edge. In many cases, back-tracking is required. Water is very scarce; and, at least three quarts to four gallons, depending on the route and trip duration, should be carried if springs are unreliable or unknown.
Nature, powerful and unsettled, is constantly changing the appearance of these routes. Over the years, floods and fluctuating water flows on the Colorado River have changed the landscape along the river itself. Beaches are created and swept away. Debris flows may fill the mouth of a canyon with boulders and rocks standing twelve feet high, only to be washed away by a flash flood a few months later. Rockslides have wiped away portions of old foot trails or blocked them with slabs of fallen rock.
Experienced canyon hikers or mountaineers who have hiked in rugged desert terrain will understand what it takes to plan and commit to a trip in the remote backcountry of the Grand Canyon. The ability to read a 7.5 minute topographic map and to use a compass for navigation; experience in route finding; good physical conditioning and endurance; carrying the right equipment; competent climbing ability; comfort on exposed rock and the ability to decipher vague routes through the constantly changing shape of the land are just some of the skills needed for this kind of travel. Hiking with companions, experience and skill can make the difference between life and death. Long hard days, heavy loads of water, and challenging, rugged terrain Ñ these are the primary characteristics of Harvey ButchartÕs routes.
In the autumn of 1945, as the aspen trees turned gold on the Colorado Plateau and the Second World War came to an end, Harvey Butchart took what was to be the first of hundreds of hikes in the Grand Canyon. During the next forty years, he would walk over 12,000 miles, log more than 1,000 actual hiking days and record his experiences in a notebook. He developed a keen eye for being able to identify routes through uncertain terrain and hiked to places in the Grand Canyon that no contemporary had previously visited or has been to since, according to many. Even today, Harvey Butchart continues to influence generations of canyon hikers who follow in his footsteps. There is no question Ñ the mathematics professor from the heartland is the father of contemporary Grand Canyon hiking.
Nearly four thousand years ago, prehistoric people who were the descendants of the Paleoindians, the oldest known cultural tradition in native North America, made the first impression on the Grand Canyon. Subtle reminders of these ancient people and those that followed them are hidden within the vast, endless miles of inner gorge, vertical cliffs and blue-green water Ñ a hand print on the overhang of a cliff, a split-twig figurine in the dark recesses of a cave, or steps cut into a vertical wall of rock.
John Wesley PowellÕs exploration of the Colorado River in 1869 was responsible for initiating a flurry of activity in the Grand Canyon throughout the second half of the 19th century, and well into the 20th. Men and women attempted to turn dreams into personal fortune or fame often at the CanyonÕs expense, and many met with disillusionment or tragedy. Prospectors, developers, railroad men and every possible kind of promoter wandered through the Canyon with the thought of turning its immense natural beauty into personal fortunes and glory. Tourists and hikers eventually discovered the Grand Canyon, and many of these later visitors, unlike their predecessors, came solely for the experience of enjoying its awesome natural beauty and solitude.
During the years of the Great Depression, exploration of the Grand Canyon backcountry was sporadic at best, with attention still focused on the water Ñ the Colorado River. It wasnÕt until the end of World War II, that a new age of backcountry discovery and exploration prevailed.
Harvey Butchart and his wife, Roma, with their two children, moved from Iowa to Flagstaff with the expectation that the drier climate of the Arizona desert might cure his daughterÕs asthma. Harvey had accepted a position as a mathematics professor at Arizona State College at Flagstaff, which would later become Northern Arizona University. Not long after arriving in Flagstaff, he made his first trip to the Grand Canyon.
For the next forty years, Harvey would spend nearly every day off, weekend and holiday driving from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. Until he was 70, he hiked in the Grand Canyon throughout the year, though there were times when, despite the fact that he seemed to tolerate heat better than most, he was so weakened by it that he had to sit down for awhile beneath whatever shade he could find. In later years, most of his Canyon hiking was done during the cooler temperatures of winter. His knowledge of elusive springs was so thorough, that he rarely carried more than two gallons of water as a buffer between them. With the exception of water, lightweight was the way he preferred to travel. He didnÕt carry a tent, preferring to sleep on an air mattress beneath the starry skies. He ate sandwiches of white bread and margarine, snacks of peanuts and prunes. The heaviest object in his pack was a flannel-lined Dacron sleeping bag, the kind used for car-camping. He eventually upgraded to a lightweight down bag. When it did rain, he covered himself with a plastic tarp and slept safe and dry on his air mattress while the water puddled around it. At night, while lying in his sleeping bag, he listened to the mice scamper across the pots and pans.
Harvey Butchart climbed 83 of the 138 or so named Grand Canyon summits. Twenty-five of those were first ascents. Credited with finding some 116 approaches to the Colorado River, he kept detailed trail notes and marked his routes on a set of Matthes-Evans Grand Canyon maps, the only complete map of the area available at that time (significant updates have been made on more recent maps). Of all the trails he hiked, the engineering of the Kaibab impressed him the most as did the beauty of the North Rim Trail. Nankoweap Mesa provided his most solitary wilderness experience. Scattered pot sherds and the absence of man-made cairns suggested that he may have been the first to walk the mesa since the ancients. His favorite personal achievement was being able to locate Royal Arch Creek, which wasnÕt on the old Matthes-Evans map. He had great physical endurance and speed, and could complete in one day, what would take most people two or three. -- Wynne Benti, Publisher
Okay, there may be another guide or two, Flood Hefley's Nankoweap is a nice guide to an awesome trail
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Harvey Butchart and his detailed examination of one of the seven wonders of the world, is the American equivalent of the Lake District's Alfred Wainwright, although in a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mr Malcolm R Johnson
Seller send an earlier edition than the one pictured. Too bad, the later printing has been totally updated. Won't use this seller in the future.Published 11 months ago by Dhiddy
I feel that the author of this book really knew his stuff. The depth of description in which he delves into is amazing! He does not miss out on anything too small... Read morePublished on August 3, 2010 by BoredHiker