National Geographic : 2016 Sep
122 national geographic • september 2016 opened up to a tiny community of extreme backpackers, including an electrical engineer from Phoenix named Rich Rudow. By the au- tumn of 2015, Rudow had completed hundreds of hikes and slot canyon explorations in the can- yon and felt he was ready for his biggest chal- lenge: a 57-day trek moving east to west across the canyon’s north side. By the time Rudow and two companions were ready to launch—almost 40 years after Grua’s thru-hike—fewer than two dozen people had approximated his feat by stringing together a chain of separate hikes along the length of the canyon, known as a “sectional” thru-hike. The Local tribes regard the Confluence, where the Little Colorado’s blue waters merge with the Colorado, as sacred. Developers hope to build a tramway here to carry up to 10,000 tourists a day to a riverside retail and food complex. The canyon provokes two reactions: the urge to protect it, and the temptation to make a pile of money from it.