A Grand Adventure

Grand Canyon group
A serendipitious photo op for the Grand Canyon-bound group from Williams.

For Noah Wentzel ’13, it was the trip of a lifetime. Spring break at the Grand Canyon—not visiting as a tourist, but rather living in and exploring the vast natural wonder alongside seven fellow students and Outing Club director Scott Lewis. The group also spent three of the 14 days swinging pick-axes and shoveling dirt to help the National Park Service rebuild trails damaged by mule trains.

Lewis has led Williams students on 13 spring break adventures through the canyon since 1994. But this year was the first time the college president joined in: Adam Falk and math professor Mihai Stoiciu hiked into the canyon with the group and spent two nights with them, even pitching in on the trail maintenance.

Wentzel took photos and kept a descriptive and documentary journal of the trip, leading readers to the floor of the canyon and back. Among the many moments he captured: “As I climbed alone up the BA Trail toward the South Rim, I looked back over my shoulder toward a ridge to the northwest and caught sight of several ravens in the distance. … It struck me that I was witnessing a remarkable phenomenon, one that Scott had told me about a few days before: These ravens were playing tag like winged schoolchildren in the bright upper air of the Grand Canyon. … The ravens played here before Grand Canyon Village sprouted along the fringe, before Powell and his men rode through in their boats, before the Anasazi or Havasupai settled the narrow valleys. This is their home; and I am unbearably jealous of the savage freedom of those birds cavorting in that high place.”

You can read a condensed version of Wentzel’s journal here.