Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 24, 2013

Wallenda: Canyon walk 'everything I wanted it to be.'

(Continued)

Wallenda stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps.

"Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God," he said about 13 minutes into the walk.

The Discovery Channel broadcast the even live. He wore a microphone and two cameras, one that looked down on the river bed and one that faced straight ahead.

The 34-year-old Sarasota, Fla., resident is a seventh-generation high-wire artist and is part of the famous "Flying Wallendas" circus family — a clan that is no stranger to death-defying feats.

His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73. Several other family members, including a cousin and an uncle, have perished while performing wire walking stunts.

Nik Wallenda grew up performing with his family and has dreamed of crossing the Grand Canyon since he was a teenager. Sunday's stunt comes a year after he traversed Niagara Falls earning a seventh Guinness world record.

About 600 spectators watching on a large video screen on site cheered him on as he walked toward them. A Navajo Nation ranger, a paramedic and two members of a film crew were stationed on the canyon floor.

The ranger, Elmer Phillips, he got a little nervous when Wallenda stopped the first time. "Other than that, a pretty amazing feat," Phillips said.

Discovery's 2-hour broadcast showcased the Navajo landscape that includes Monument Valley, Four Corners, Canyon de Chelly and the tribal capital of Window Rock.

Wallenda already is eyeing his next stunt, which he hopes will take him between the Chrysler and Empire State buildings in New York. As a nod to his Internet audience, he said he also would ask his Facebook and Twitter followers what the next challenge should be

But he said he would give up tightrope walking altogether if his wife and children ever asked him.

"That's a serious talk that we'll have. But absolutely, it weighs on heavy on me," he said.

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