Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Grand Canyon

A good article about a John Butchart who used to wander about the Grand Canyon. Check out the hikers setting up camp in this picture.(upper left)

John Harvey Butchart was the undisputed dean of Grand Canyon hikers. Between 1945 and 1987, the slight, unassuming math professor walked more than 12,000 miles in the Canyon. Over the course of 1,024 hiking days, he blazed dozens of off-trail routes, discovering sandstone arches and other natural wonders never before seen (or, at least, never before recorded).

His meticulous, if sometimes idiosyncratic, trail notes eventually became three guidebooks that cemented his reputation as the guru of off-trail hiking in the Grand Canyon.[...]

Butchart was slightly built and wore gold-rimmed glasses, which gave him a clerkish appearance. But in a 1993 story in The Arizona Republic, friends said he was an extraordinarily fit hiker, whose pace put younger hikers to shame. Even in his 60s and 70s, he still could walk for days on end. It wasn't unusual for him to hike 16 hours a day.

His discoveries include Royal Arch Bridge and Hartman Bridge, located below the Canyon's eastern rim, off the north arm of Lava Creek.

During his excursions, he discovered more than 100 previously unknown rim-to-river routes through the 800-foot-thick layer of rock known as the Redwall Limestone, the most formidable barrier facing hikers seeking a way to - or from - the Colorado River.

Butchart also is credited with the first ascent of dozens of the inner canyon's buttes and peaks.

Over the years he broke a wrist, several ribs and both heels in the Canyon. And, on more than one occasion, he or his companions found themselves in a precarious situation. In 1967, Butchart had to be rescued by helicopter from the top of the Royal Arch.

The distilled essence of his hiking logs is contained in his three books - Grand Canyon Treks I, II and III, which are prized by hikers. They now have been compiled into one.

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