During one of my regular geology programs as an interpretive ranger at Grand Canyon National Park, I asked the visitors who had gathered around me on the Canyon’s South Rim, “How many of you have been personally acquainted with the Grand Canyon for at least ten years?” Half a dozen hands went up. “Fifteen years?” “Twenty years?” “Twenty-five years?” Then one voice called out, “Sixty years!”
I looked around and there under the shade tree sat an interesting looking rather short man in hiking attire, wearing a beret and a huge smile. Beside him was his wife. So began my relationship with Francis and Helen Line.
Later that evening at their room in Bright Angel Lodge, my wife Ann and I heard some of the stories of the Line’s personal relationship with Grand Canyon; about his first hikes on nearly all the Canyon’s main trails with his brother Winfield in 1923; about Helen’s introduction to the Canyon, when she and Francis helped rescue three boys on the South Kaibab Trail; about their annual hikes into the Canyon celebrating their wedding anniversaries. In fact, they had just completed their 55th anniversary hike the day before.
Eight months later, during the time I spent with Helen and Francis on his 80th birthday hike to Phantom Ranch, they shared with me their love for this Canyon, for each other, and for everyone around them. I experienced their enthusiasm and zest for living. In everything they do they discover new adventures and surprises.
Francis and Helen are like that — vigorous, alive, reaching out for new knowledge and new experiences around every turn in the trail. The story they have told of their love affair with Grand Canyon is an absorbing and inspirational saga. The reader not only becomes acquainted with the Canyon, and this whole southwestern area surrounding it, but with a couple who are in love with life — and each other. The Lines are “contagious.” You have a rare treat ahead of you.
Grand Canyon National Park