Saturday, October 22, 2022

17 Miles

 The wind started howling against the house last night, ushering in a coming storm. I find myself in a wrestling match: sleep vs. the active mind. It's not dread that keeps me awake, though there is undoubtedly some measure of anxiety that is an added ingredient to the thoughts galloping through my head at 4:00 AM. 2022 and the events that it has escorted our way has changed all of us, as does every passing year; this year, however, has left its imprint more evidently upon ourselves in some ways. I doubt I'll ever love the wind, since I never have. I do hope someday to love the sound of rain and to face coming storms with anticipation once again. For now, though, I must content myself with a hot cup of tea and my galloping thoughts as company.

 My friend, Andrea, decided to embrace her 40th year with an epic hike and asked me to join her, much to my delight. On Thursday morning this week we got a 3:00 AM start and headed to the Grand Canyon. We picked up a shuttle bus at the lodge and then started our hike in the dark morning hours at the South Kaibab trailhead. We used headlamps for about 35 minutes until the light started to peak up on the horizon. The morning light on the canyon walls is mesmerizing; it's a bit challenging to hike by, honestly, because looking at your feet and where you are going becomes less of a priority. :-) 

South Kaibab is a fairly steep trail, by comparison to some of the other trails, so you descend into the canyon fairly quickly. The views are breathtaking. I think the most outstanding revelation to me on this hike was the canyons within canyons that make up the Grand Canyon. One could spend a lifetime trying to know it all. And its magical draw has probably beckoned some to do exactly that! 

We hiked to the Colorado River at the base of the canyon, and crossed over the river twice using the black bridge. From the S. Kaibab trail hikers are welcomed across the bridge via a tunnel. Super neat!  We saw 900-1000 year old Native American pueblos alongside the river, called the Bright Angel Pueblos. Archeologists believe it was the dwelling place of an extended family. The early people in this beautiful place clearly appreciated and valued some of the same things we see as glorious and important.

We started our journey upward by crossing the river again using the silver bridge and then following the trail along the river for a while before the Bright Angel trail ushered us up a slow, steady climb to the top again. It was a hard push to the "halfway" point at the Indian Gardens campground where we were able to sit for a bit, top off our water and use the bathroom. We crawled out of the canyon in the early evening and had we not been so tired we might have done a victory dance. :-) We went 17 miles and conquered almost 5000 feet in elevation. I'm happy to report that so far I only have some sore calves from the adventure which is not much to complain about. 

It was an epic day that I will treasure all of my days. There is something mysterious about that place and I know more clearly why it calls people back to itself over and over again. It is not just Grand because it is the longest canyon on earth... 

Thank you to my fabulous hiking buddy for making this dream a reality for me. 

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