February 7 1906

Billy Stead checks out the Grand Canyon.


En route from New York to San Francisco, where they were to play two matches against British Columbia, the 1905/6 All Blacks stopped a night in Arizona. The next day Billy Stead was one of a party who explored the Grand Canyon.


“Early next morning, before sunrise, about a dozen of us started down the trail, which for the first thousand feet down was coated with frozen snow and by the time we had safely negotiated another thousand feet descent we were in a different atmosphere altogether. Down there nothing disturbed the awful solitude, but our own hilarity and the singing of the birds. The lightness of the air, and the sweet smelling flowers reminiscent of a summer’s day in one’s own gardens, had a quickening effect on our
spirits, as after arranging a dinner at a camp half way down we trudged on the remaining 3000 feet of our 6000 feet descent to the river Colorado, which runs through the canyon. Once down, one wondered however on earth we managed to get down these 6000 feet of rocky precipice, and I don’t mind admitting my own apprehension as to how we were going to get back. We had been told by the guides (whose services, however, we did not hire), that it was 7 miles down but that it felt like 15 miles back, and
that we would be sure to want mules coming back. After having an hour’s spell at the river and another at lunch (the abundance of which showed the proprietor’s confidence in our eating abilities, a confidence which we did not betray), we arrived back at the “rim” of the canyon at 4pm; considering that we had to ascend 6000 feet during the 14 miles, it was very good work. The canyon is 200 miles long, and it looks just as if an eruption had blown out the side of the globe at that spot. Like Niagara it must be seen
to be appreciated, and I would strongly advise anyone going through the States to make a point of seeing it. A first class hotel built like a log cabin at a cost of 250,000 dollars provides all the equipments of any city high class hostelry.”

Billy Stead.

From “Billy’s Trip Home” published 2005 by NZ Sports Hall of Fame p.72.