Learn English Through Stories | A 750 Mile Hike of the Grand Canyon

By watching this true story, you will be able to learn new English vocabulary, idioms, and patterns. 


One of the seven natural wonders of the world is the Grand Canyon, which is in Arizona. It has basically become the hotspot for tourists. In one year alone, more than seven million people visit the Grand Canyon. On February 26th of 2019, it turned 100 years old. But the Grand Canyon is facing multiple threats.

There’s been an increase in helicopter flights, a possible plan for a train that goes through the canyon, and even many proposed tourist building plans and developments. That is why, back in 2015, a man named Pete McBride stepped in and decided to save the Grand Canyon. He decided to save it by hiking it. A 750 mile hike.

So who is Pete McBride? Why did he think a hike could save the Grand Canyon? And what happened on his hike? That’s what we are going to learn today.

This episode of Learn English Through True Stories is brought to you by the Speak English with Tiffani Academy. You can learn more about the academy by clicking the link in the description below.

So Pete McBride is an adventure filmmaker, photographer, and a writer. He is known for the work that he did in filming the path of the Colorado River, but it was during this trip that he noticed a problem. He noticed that the river, which runs through the Grand Canyon, no longer reaches the ocean, and he found out that this problem had begun 20 years ago. This was the first indicator to him that the Grand Canyon National Park was in danger, so Pete McBride decided to hike the length of the Grand Canyon in order to bring awareness to the threats it is facing. His goal was to help conserve a national treasure by highlighting its natural beauty that was slowly being taken away.

Alright, the first word is indicator. Again, indicator. Now, indicator is a sign or a signal that shows something exists or is true, or that makes something clear, okay? So the example sentence is, the car’s speedometer and temperature indicator were broken, okay? So again, the speedometer and the temperature are used to show or make something clear, the speed and the temperature, okay? Alright, next we have bring awareness to. This is an expression or a pattern we use in English, okay? So bring awareness to, it means to increase people’s knowledge or understanding of something. This is a very, very good pattern for you to use, okay? And the example is, the actor wanted to bring awareness to how recycling can help our environment, okay? So that means the actor wanted people to understand even more how recycling can effect our environment, okay? So in English we say bring awareness to. And finally we have national treasure. Again, national treasure. This is something regarded as being a symbol of a nation’s cultural heritage, okay? Something that is very important to the nation because of the cultural importance, alright? So the panda is considered one of China’s national treasures. Now this is something we all are aware of. Why, because when we think of a panda bear, we usually think of China, because China is known for its panda bears, okay? So people usually love pandas that come from China.

So he called a friend named Kevin Fedarko and also invited an experienced Grand Canyon hiker named Rich Rudow to join him on the 750 mile hike. Even though there are no trails for many parts of the canyon, they were confident that they could do it, so they set out on their 750 mile journey.

Now, Pete McBride was no stranger to a difficult hike. You see, prior to starting his hike of the Grand Canyon, he had already hiked Mount Everest and even documented nature in Antarctica. In other words, a difficult hike didn’t intimidate him. But the Grand Canyon was different. The temperatures during the hike fluctuated from eight degrees all the way to 116 degrees Fahrenheit. The elevations varied drastically and the amount of unstable rock made the hike much more difficult than he could have anticipated.

Alright, the first word is no stranger to. No stranger to. This means to be familiar with a particular experience or activity, okay? Alright, the example is, Michael is no stranger to hard work. This means Michael is a very hard worker, okay? Next, we have intimidate. Again, intimidate. This means to frighten or threaten someone, usually in order to persuade the person to do something. So you see this a lot in schools with bullies. So, for example, the bully tried to intimidate the children, okay? Maybe the bully was asking for money. He or she tried to intimidate the children. And finally, fluctuated. Again, fluctuated. This means to rise and fall irregularly in number or amount. In English we say fluctuate, okay? Alright, the sentence is, the temperature fluctuated a lot this winter. So, for example, let’s say the winter started in November and went all the way through to March of the next year. Well, in December, let’s say between November and December, the weather was about maybe 10 degrees, okay? Let’s say 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s very cold. But then suddenly, between December and January, the weather went very, very hot, 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and then between January and February, the weather went back down to five degrees Fahrenheit. So you see what’s happening. The weather is fluctuating. Rising and falling irregularly.

A few days into their hike, they realized just how wrong they had been. They were unprepared to deal with the extreme load of the camera gear, and they were blindsided by the physical strain of the extreme heat on their bodies.

This caused them to get sick and even disoriented, so on the sixth day of their hike, they were forced to stop. McBride went to the hospital and was diagnosed with hyponatremia, which is a heat-induced imbalance of salt and minerals. According to the doctors, this could have killed him. It seemed like all hope was lost and the 750 mile hike would have to be canceled.

Okay, blindsided. Again, blindsided. This means to catch someone unprepared or to attack from an unexpected position, okay? Catching someone off-guard, alright? The sentence is, they were blindsided when the doctor told them that their teacher had a serious disease. So of course the students were not expecting their teacher to have a serious disease. They were unprepared for that news, okay? Next, disoriented. Once again, disoriented, okay? This is to make someone feel confused or lose their sense of direction. In English, we say disoriented. That can happen maybe when you are drunk or when you feel extremely tired, okay? When you’re extremely tired, sometimes you get disoriented, okay? Alright, so let’s look at the example sentence. Here we go. Whales get disoriented in shallow water, okay? Usually whales need to be in deep water, but when they’re in shallow water, they don’t know what to do, okay?

But then the local hiking community and other Native American conservationists living in the community stepped up and convinced them to press on with their journey. They wanted McBride and his partners to draw attention to the magnificent wonders of the canyon. So a new plan was drawn up, and they decided to hike the Grand Canyon in two week stints instead of all in one go.

The plan was to start in November of 2015 and go through March of 2016, hiking in two to three week stints. They continued this plan for months, excluding the hot months of summer, and they finally finished up their final two week stint in the latter part of October of 2016.

Press on with. Once again, press on with. Now, this pattern means to start or continue doing something in a determined way, with a specific purpose and goal. We say press on with. So here’s the example. It was pouring rain outside, but we still decided to press on with our project. So usually if it’s raining outside, people usually stop what they’re doing and go inside. But this person said that they decided to press on with their project, even though it was raining outside, okay? Alright, next, draw up a plan, okay? This means to prepare and write something such as a document or a plan, okay? And here’s the example. Our team had to draw up new plans because our boss did not like our previous ideas, okay? So in this situation, there was an idea, but it wasn’t good, so they had to prepare or write a new plan, okay? And finally we have stint. Once again, stint. Now this is a period of time spent doing a particular job or activity. Stint is used very often in English, okay, so it’s a good word for you guys to know. Alright, here’s the example sentence. He took up boxing during his stint in the army. So he was in the army for a period of time. Now took up, let me just explain really quickly, took up just means he started, okay? He started boxing, alright? Started boxing, okay? So again, stint.

McBride said that, in order to complete the grueling hike, he went through eight pairs of shoes, had four sprained ankles, two broken fingers, was hospitalized for hyponatremia, and even had to have heart surgery. So the question we all ask is, was it all worth it? Did his 750 mile hike and the photographs he took really help preserve the national treasure?

To answer this question, McBride said that though developments may still happen in the Grand Canyon, the 750 mile hike had a huge impact on him. Experiencing the beauty, grandeur, silence, and the utter magic of the seventh natural wonder of the world reminded him once again that there is no place like the Grand Canyon.

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5 years ago

Excellent,very helpful.

5 years ago

Thank u.very interested

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