Slowly walking the walk

Little Colorado River Gorge is where Nik Wallenda performed his tightrope act Sunday. A tourist was taking in the viewfrom the Navajo reservation near Cameron, Ariz., on Saturday.
Little Colorado River Gorge is where Nik Wallenda performed his tightrope act Sunday. A tourist was taking in the viewfrom the Navajo reservation near Cameron, Ariz., on Saturday. (RICK BOWMER / Associated Press)

Daredevil Nik Wallenda, 34, fulfills a dream at the Grand Canyon.

Posted: June 24, 2013

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER GORGE, Ariz. - Florida aerialist Nik Wallenda completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter mile over the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona on Sunday.

Wallenda performed the stunt on a two-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon. He took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and crouching twice as winds whipped around him so that he could get "the rhythm out of the rope."

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

Wallenda didn't wear a harness and stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps.

Winds blowing across the gorge were expected to be around 30 m.p.h. Wallenda told Discovery after the walk that the winds were at times "unpredictable" and that dust had accumulated on and around his contact lenses.

Wallenda, 34, 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 have perished while performing wire walking stunts.

Nik Wallenda said he 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.

Wallenda wore a microphone and two cameras, one that looked down on the dry Little Colorado River bed and one that faced straight ahead. His leather shoes with elk-skin soles helped him keep a grip on the cable.

About 600 spectators watching on a large video screen on site cheered him on as he walked toward them.

Before the walk, a group of Navajos, Hopis, and other Native Americans stood along a nearby highway with signs protesting the event.

The stunt was touted as a walk across the Grand Canyon, an area held sacred by many American Indian tribes.

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