USA: The Grand Canyon, a dangerous wonder - The360 Travel

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  • Friday, December 13, 2019

    USA: The Grand Canyon, a dangerous wonder

    USA: The Grand Canyon, a dangerous wonder

    Beware, fatal selfie: The second most visited national park in the United States, the Grand Canyon experienced an unusual peak of accidental deaths in the spring. Despite calls for caution, risky behavior persists.

    From the top of its glowing cliffs extends the immensity. Several hundred kilometers of arid and winding gorges at the bottom of which the Colorado River tirelessly pursues its work of erosion, begun several million years ago.

    An eternity joined forever by four people in as many weeks on March and April.

    The body of a Japanese tourist was first found in a wooded area away from steep rock faces. Before a black series of three deadly falls, including a man in his 50s in Hong Kong who fell into the void trying to take pictures.

    "There are barriers to the most popular points of view, but we do not want to put them everywhere," says AFP Kris Fister, spokesman for the national park, located in the state of Arizona. "That's the beauty of parks, there's nothing to separate you from these beautiful places."

    "People are asked to stay on marked trails, stay clear of the ravine and be careful when taking photos. It's a matter of common sense, "she adds in her regulation dress, khaki pants and gray shirt.

    At the "Mather Point", where buses pour their tourists in a hurry, the message is obviously not always heard.

    This natural gazebo, the busiest in the park, is perhaps the place in the United States where the largest number of selfies are taken. After Kim Kardashian's bathroom.

    The opposite edge of the canyon is here 16 km as the crow flies. Barriers protect visitors, but a few hundred meters away, a young woman ventures without a net to the edge of the precipice.

    "The view is already very beautiful from here, I do not see the interest to advance further," says Kathryn Kelly, British tourist, observing the imprudent. "I've heard of a fallen man taking a selfie and it's hard for me to feel sorry for him. It's a kind of natural selection.

    Heat, suicide, air accident

    Of the dozen people who die on average each year in the Grand Canyon, according to figures from the National Park Service, falls are paradoxically quite rare.

    The majority of deaths are related to the altitude and heat of summer, against which preventive signs - "Do not become a statistic"; "What has come down must be reassembled" - warn hikers along the trails.

    Deep in the gorge, near the rough waters of Colorado, the Phantom Ranch offers them a welcome stop for the night after long hours of walking.

    On the shelves of the communal dining room there is an occasional book reviewing all the deaths recorded in the park, Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon.

    Falls, flash floods, drownings, thunderstorms, snakes, suicides, murders ... There are as many ways to die in the Grand Canyon as Instagram filters.

    Originally from Michigan, Jim Stanley, 71, read the book before coming to tackle this dangerous wonder, where nearly seven million visitors are expected this year for the centennial of its national park standings.

    "It did not discourage me! He says, his hiking pants proudly held up by a pair of straps in the colors of the American flag. "On the contrary, I am aware of the dangers. Too many people minimize them. But the Grand Canyon is not Disneyland.

    A part of mystery has always enveloped the natural park. The numerous accidental disappearances listed over the years across its vast territory have even made it a sort of terrestrial Bermuda triangle.

    A collision between two planes over the canyon had caused, with 128 victims, the worst commercial air disaster in history at the time. It was in 1956. Long before the proliferation of selfies.

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