The guide — I

Man, this place is somethin’ else, huh?” I said to my brothers Andy, two years older than me at 17, and Alex, 10, checking out the view from our family’s campsite on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. None of the photos in Mom and Dad’s guidebook could compare to what we actually witnessed there. God really did something awesome here, I thought, totally blown away by the setting sun’s orange rays shooting across the water-scarred rocks, peaks and valleys.

Tomorrow we’d be hiking down these rocks. We’d mapped out our trip: camp on the South Rim, take Kaibab Trail down to the canyon floor, spend a night there, then climb Bright Angel Trail back up to the top. To get in shape for the steep trails, we’d trained together for weeks before the trip-running, walking, hiking around parks at home.

Our mother and father made sure we carefully studied the safety video mailed to us by the National Park Service. Each of us carried our own trail map and compass and was outfitted with sturdy hiking boots. We got a tent that was light — a cinch to put up and big enough for all of us to spend the night. I figured we’d be ready for anything by the time we woke up the next morning.

That night at the South Rim I was the last one into our tent. As I turned off my flashlight to go to sleep, I heard a park ranger talking to some new arrivals. He was talking about the

dangers that we never imagined before we embarked. —