4:00 AM. 23 degrees. I hadn't slept much that night, so in a way the early hour didn't feel that excruciating; not like trying to pull yourself out of a deep slumber. We threw on our hiking gear, forced down a snack and drove the 1 hour to the North rim trail head.
Krista and I had planned to do a memorial rim to rim hike for Daddy. We had both been training for it and had our hearts set on it. One week before the scheduled hike Krista developed tendonitis in her leg and her doctor strongly recommended that she not take on such a challenging hike. So, we set that dream aside for another time, and I was really sad about it, honestly.
The following day I was talking with my friend, Casey, who was the barista making my coffee at my favorite coffee shop that morning. She said, "Eryn, I would love to do that hike with you!" I knew she would be the perfect hiking buddy because a short time ago, she completed a 491 mile hike in Colorado over 36 days!!! She has always wanted to do this hike as well. It was such an unexpected blessing, for both of us.
So, Kris dropped us off at the trail head in the morning darkness, around 5:30. The first 1/4 mile was pretty dicey as there were patches of ice and snow, but once we dropped down a bit the trail was completely clear. In less than an hour the light was good enough to turn off our headlamps and see the canyon's glory. It was completely breathtaking in the dawn light.
What draws people to the canyon? It's not just the absolute grandeur and magnitude of the place... it is the subtle beauty of the color in the canyon walls, the clear water that pours out of crevices and into creeks that lead to the river, it is stories that the canyon walls whisper, it is the wild animals that call it home, it is all the things that cannot be summarized with words but that fill us if we stop to listen. It is a place where we are forced to recognize our vulnerability and how finite our existence is.
Wee tiny deer.
Casey and I hiked approximately 25 miles in 10 hours. I looked out, over the canyon so many times that day, and thought of Daddy. I know he and Mom shared a love for that place. I'm thankful that I've been given the opportunity to come to understand it, even a little.
Our only hiccup was a blister I developed at mile 23 on my left heel. The last 2 miles were painful with each footfall and by the time we exited I had blood in my shoe. That sure didn't put a damper on our exhilaration at the top! We got out at 3:30, bought a R2R sticker in the gift shop and celebrated the wonder of a truly wonder-filled day! This memory I will treasure always.
These trails that we follow... the trails of those gone before us.