On the surface, this doesn’t seem like too exciting of a question and maybe even less exciting of an answer, but in the context of human history, and especially some other achievements of mankind, this figure is strikingly low. For example, the known human history of the Grand Canyon area stretches back 10,500 years, when the first evidence of human presence in the area is found. For a little over a third of that time-period, Native Americans have called the area home and then in 1540, Captain García López de Cárdenas led a party of Spanish soldiers with Hopi guides to the Grand Canyon. Captain García was actually on a mission to find the fabled Seven Cities of Gold, but what he got instead was the giant crack in the earth’s surface we now know as the Grand Canyon. In the late 1800s, the U.S. Army traversed through the giant walls, and before the turn of the century the first pioneer settlements showed up when mineral sources were discovered.
Even then, however, early residents soon realized that tourism was destined to be more profitable than mining, and in 1908 U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a National Monument. Every year millions of people from all over the world come to visit the park, biking, camping, and hiking, but throughout all those years, and in spite of all those people, only a grand total of eight have completed a continuous lengthwise hike through the Grand Canyon.
Here are some more facts to put this figure in context courtesy of National Geographic:
– “There is no single trail or network of trails that stretches along the entirety of the North or South Rims. The most efficient way to travel the length of the canyon is to float down the Colorado River, which winds through the canyon for 277 sinuous miles.” John Wesley Powell led the first documented traverse of the canyon that way in the summer of 1869.
– in 1976 a 25-year-old river guide named Kenton Grua finally completed the walk in the winter. This was 65 years after both the North and South Poles had been reached, and 23 years after Mount Everest was first summited.
– Later on, in 2015, an electrical engineer from Phoenix named Rich Rudow decided to attempt the feat of a 57-day trek moving east to west across the canyon’s north side. At this time “more people had stood on the moon (12) than had completed a continuous thru-hike of the Grand Canyon (eight).”