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Grand Canyon Treks Paperback – June 1, 1996

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Grand Canyon Treks + Grand Canyon Trail Map 4th Edition + Hiking Grand Canyon National Park: A Guide To The Best Hiking Adventures On The North And South Rims (Regional Hiking Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Spotted Dog Press (CA); 1st edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964753022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964753020
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Harvey Butchart is the undisputed king of extreme and obsessive Grand Canyon hiking. --Backpacker Magazine, June 2000

I had underestimated him. No individual had ever travelled so much of the Grand Canyon. --Franois Leydet

I set about tracking down the experts . . . I discovered that they totaled one . . . Harvey Butchart --Colin Fletcher

From the Publisher

Only a few thousand people visited the Grand Canyon each year when Harvey Butchart first started hiking there. Many of those early visitors rarely ventured below the Rim unless it was in the guarded safety of a guided mule train. Over the years, their numbers have grown dramatically, with nearly five million people a year now visiting the South Rim alone. Of those, approximately 60,000 make it into the Grand CanyonÕs backcountry Ñ more than 1.2 million acres of wild and rugged terrain, where traditional trails are virtually non-existent, and are replaced by cross-country routes through serpentine chasms carved out of rock hundreds of millions of years old. The closest thing resembling a trail might be an old, winding prospectorÕs track which hasnÕt seen a man-made improvement in almost a century.

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

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Harvey Butchart is of course the God of Grand Canyon hiking and this guide is essential for any serious backcountry canyon hiker. While hiking down to the river in Cottonwood Canyon, I was sent on a scary, exposure-filled detour by this guide. On returning home, I compared it to my old editions of the book and found that this reprint mistakenly drops an entire crucial line of text in the Cottonwood Canyon section, so beware.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought this book thinking it contained maps and detailed trail descriptions for obscure Canyon paths, only to find that it did not. (If you want that, get Annerino's Sierra Club book, which is the best available that I've seen, and I have the Falcon Guide too, which is likewise more helpful than this work, though this one touches upon some tremendously obscure areas Falcon doesn't.)
As a guide, this book is ok, but *definitely* insufficiently detailed. I found it fascinating and entertaining, but it should be called Harvey Butchart's Fairly General Descriptions of Grand Canyon Trails, Very Well Written, and With Stories About Many of These Trails.
It was very frustrating to get the book without the highly detailed Butchart maps, which are alluded to (they show in red pen the paths and approaches he took, and in many cases, pioneered) but NOT INCLUDED.
Butchart has led a hiking life for all of us to envy, as this book makes clear.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Clark B. Hinckley on January 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Harvey Butchart is one of the greatest Grand Canyon hikers and his books are classics. But don't rely on them as your primary guide. They make great supplemental guides if you already have Annerino's Sierra Club guide.
Of course, Harvey includes routes you won't find in any other book, since he pioneered them. If you are a serious Canyon hiker, your library is incomplete without Harvey.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Butchart's book is the only reference to about half the routes talked about in the book! Having hiked several of the routes in the book, ive found the descriptions to give just enough information to get you going in the right direction without taking away the adventure of it all by telling you every detail that you will experience. A must for Canyon hikers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Written by experienced hiker Harvey Butchart, Grand Canyon Treks is a travelogue of Butchart's pioneering explorations through the Grand Canyon, whose travels have taken him across more than 12,000 miles of remote and previously uncharted Grand Canyon territory. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, Grand Canyon Treks is an armchair traveler's delight in its vivid descriptions of numerous trails, from Bright Angel Trail and Campground to Tanner Trail routes away from it in the Eastern Grand Canyon, to upriver and downriver from President Harding Rapids in the Marble Canyon area, to the Toroweap Area in the Western Grand Canyon and much, much more. Appendices offer a wealth of helpful hints for aspiring hikers, such as precautions to take to avoid heat-related illness and hypothermia, but Grand Canyon Treks is primarily a travelogue to be savored for its details, memories, and fascinating tidbits of historical background, not a how-to guide and not a collection of trail maps. A treasure for anyone curious about what it's like to travel the Grand Canyon on foot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Coates on March 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is basically a reprint of Harvey Butchart's original 3 booklets (which I had at one time) with some additional information added. The information is very sketchy and should not be used as a guide to hiking in the Grand Canyon. However, it is interesting from a historical point of view and as a general introduction to a particular area. Anyone interested in Harvey Butchart will likely find this book interesting. I read it with a topo map at hand to help me follow (in a general way) where Harvey went.
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