Students to visit Grand Canyon

By Julian Scharman

Campus Outdoor Activities Center is offering an 11-day excursion to the Grand Canyon May 15-26. The cost of the trip is $540 for University students.

The center, located at 51 E. Gregory Drive, has become an outlet for many students, offering rare experiences with Mother Nature.

The expedition to the Canyon is kicked off by a two-day road trip, said Bob McGrew, assistant director of campus recreation and coordinator of outdoor activities, with camping in western Oklahoma. The remainder of the drive is spent visiting the Petrified Forest in Phoenix, Ariz., the Sedona Area in Oak Creek Canyon and the outskirts of the canyon for some preliminary climbing.

The trip is divided into two levels of difficulty, a novice difficulty and a slightly more difficult veteran’s hike, which McGrew himself leads. The beginner group starts in a less-steep, heavier used area, and the more difficult hike takes place in the backcountry with slightly longer hiking days.

“You’re dealing with the desert, and pretty steep elevations and temperatures out there, you know both hikes are fairly difficult so we try to get people into the appropriate groups,” McGrew said.

The first days hiking in the canyon are a challenging, but peaceful experience, said Roenen Ben-Ami, junior in LAS, who traveled to the Grand Canyon with the group in summer 2005.

“It’s just really intense, because it’s extremely hot and rocky, but it’s pretty amazing because there is no one around except you, your group and your giant backpack,” he said.

The hike continues for six days, where McGrew brings groups down along the Colorado River, the bottom of the canyon, and leads the final climb and hike out.

Ben-Ami, recalls the camping experience he had in the canyon.

“Sleeping out under the stars and no need for tents, you just sleep on the beach, the walls of the canyon on both sides and all you can see is stars,” he said.

Members of past traveling groups also praise the experience for McGrew’s organization and leadership in the great outdoors, like Chris Leon, sophomore in LAS.

“Bob is just a great help in getting everyone prepared,” Leon said. “It was just an amazing experience to be away from society for a week . It’s really nice.”