Backpacking into the Grand Canyon is a very challenging experience, but at the same time a very exhilarating one, which is why Friendship Circle has chosen it as the location for a 5-day backpacking hike to raise money for its global activities and programs for children with special needs and their families.
For 5 days, hikers will sleep under the myriad of clearly-visible stars, and will push themselves to the limit during the day, all for the noble cause of helping others in need.
Of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon, located in Northern Arizona, is by far the most visited and well-known. Five million tourists visit this spectacular National Park each year.
The view from the rim of the canyon is truly unparalleled, and its enormity overwhelms the senses. Hundreds of smaller canyons, decorated with various shades of geologic color, can be seen from there, as well as 100-mile views of distant mountain ranges.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles at its widest point. The rims are located between 6,500 and 8,000 feet above sea level, with the mighty Colorado River rushing through the bottom, five to six thousand feet below. Over the course of several hours of hiking down into the canyon, one experiences the change in climates – from cool alpine forests along the rim, to the dry, hot desert climate at the canyon’s bottom.
Cascading waterfalls, some over a hundred feet high, can be seen beneath the rims of the Grand Canyon, as well as bubbling creeks, rushing rivers, ancient Native American artifacts, caves, wildflowers, and towering cottonwood trees on the lower reaches. The canyon’s most attractive feature, however, is its unparalleled solitude.
A hike through the Grand Canyon is a unique opportunity to connect with G-d and nature, to be alone with your thoughts, and to acquire a new appreciation for G-d’s creation.
Friendship Circle International is an organization developed and administered by the Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim Office, with the objective of helping children with special needs and their families, by providing them with programs, special events and resources.
The organization’s “Friends at Home” program connects teenage volunteers with special-needs children, and creates real, lasting friendships, affecting the lives of the children, families, and volunteers alike.
The Grand Canyon Hike 4 Friendship will take place in late May, beginning with Shabbat at a local Chabad House followed by the five-day hike inside the Grand Canyon.
The number of participants in the hike is limited to 6 men over the age of 18 or a minor over the age of 15 accompanied by his father.
Pinny Lew from Crown Heights will be the hike leader and coach. In the last 6 years, Lew has backpacked the Grand Canyon several times and will share his first-hand knowledge of the unique terrain of the Canyon.
“Once you descend below the canyon’s rim, don’t expect to find running water, electricity, or a cell phone signal; a hike through it is a unique opportunity for an authentic, off-the-grid, back-to-nature experience,” he says.
“The distractions of modern life fade away, enabling you to hear your own thoughts, reflect on the greatness of G-d and His creations, and to focus on simply being with yourself and your thoughts.”
There are three ways to safely reach the bottom of the Grand Canyon. One is by mule, another is white water rafting down the Colorado River, and the third – the most rewarding (and also the most challenging) – is hiking down. Hiking into the Grand Canyon provides an unprecedented opportunity to be up close and personal with nature and its beauty.
For more information and to apply for the Grand Canyon Hike 4 Friendship, visit Hike4Friendship.org.