RIM TO RIM
5 AM was cold and the sun was hours from making an appearance. I was nervous and excited as I pulled on a second pair of socks then squinted in the bright flash of the before picture.
It felt like it took forever to get light. Hiking in the dark was fun for the first minute or two but then it made me nervous not seeing more than a couple feet in front of me. Slowly, as the sun woke, the magic of the Canyon came to life.
It. was. breathtaking.
I have visited the Grand Canyon many times now but being inside it felt different. I did great the first 9 miles and highly enjoyed chatting with my in-laws. Well before the half-way point that I began to feel tired. A cliff bar at our first rest stop and a bag of cheez-its through the long gorge worked wonders in giving me more energy. I was continually amazed at the human body. I didn't train (big mistake), I didn't prepare well sleep or hydration wise (also a mistake) but I asked my legs to work and they did. Our bodies are far more capable of extremes than I often recognize.
I was grateful for the chance to hike with Matthew and Clarissa. We talked books and movies, Harry Potter baby names and for at least 2 miles of pizza. There is a lot to discuss when comparing pizza places. Hungry Howies will forever have my heart.
We took a short detour somewhere in the first half to explore ribbon falls. Those couple extra miles are well worth it in my opinion. The bridge is pretty sketchy but the waterfall is phenomenal. An extra couple of miles didn't seem like a big deal when we were already hiking over 2 dozen. One thing you can't tell from the tourist viewpoints of the Grand Canyon is how green it is down there.
It was fun to watch the scenery change from rocky to green to bridges over the Colorado River.
I found the view stunningly beautiful hiking alongside the river. The second half of the hike really is incredible. However, my post lunch hiking was not as enthusiastic as those first 13 miles. My muscles ached and my head hurt. A blister had formed on my toe and negative thinking filled my head. We were all less talkative and focused on keeping a steady pace. Daniel and Stephen had run a marathon the month before so their speed was far faster than ours. We didn't even try to stay with them.
I can easily separate the hike in half. The first half was exciting, adventurous and fun. The second half was a struggle. I don't think I will ever hike it again but if I do I will be sure to prepare better. I would still be in the bottom of that Canyon if I hadn't been hiking with Thomas. Everyone dreads the last 4.6 miles. I had been told many times about the switchbacks. I was anxious about my ability to get up the South Rim but the truth of the matter is- you have to get out. There is no way of avoiding it. Our goal was to get out before dark. I REALLY didn't want to hike out after dark. We were slow but kept moving. Thomas would switch between placing his hand on my back and lightly pushing me and holding my hand to pull me. I was so grateful to have him.
|If we look exhausted it is because we are.|
I ran some wicked track workouts back in the day but my legs have never burned like this. Every step hurt. I didn't stretch cuz I'm a baby and it hurt too bad. Those last couple of miles were harder than the rest of the hike put together and it felt like it would never end.
It did end. We made it out right as it was really getting dark. Total time 13 hours. We weren't speedy by any means. I marvel at the people who do Rim to Rim to Rim. I can't imagine turning around at the top and going back.
As we made our way up the last and longest switch back Thomas pointed out Daniel, his Dad and Stephen. When he didn't I couldn't help myself, I started to cry. I was just so ready to be done and so relieved that we had actually finished.
The days to follow were humbling. I hobbled around as my muscles took their sweet time to recover. They eventually did and I'm sitting here writing this grateful for the experience.
Oh what a wonderful world. Oh what a fantastic place I live. I'll miss it. I can count the days on one hand until we move and it's surreal.