For my second backpacking trip, we tackled the Grand Canyon. I had never visited the Grand Canyon before, and I am so glad the first time I saw it was experiencing one of it’s trails firsthand. You definitely do not get the amazing vastness of the canyon simply from the rim alone. Once you are inside and descend amongst the ever-changing geology and views, you have a better appreciation for how truly marvelous it is.
I was in absolute awe the first day we arrived at the rim. That quickly turned to terror as I saw the snow and ice at the top, and realized I would be hiking on that the next day.
This was hands down, the scariest hike I have ever done. This was due mostly to a lack of preparation and apt equipment on my part. I really should have had crampons or something with more traction for my shoes.
The beginning of the trail was snowy, and as we descended further down, it turned to slippery ice and slush. I slid a few times and fell right on my butt, twice. The trail is narrow, and the massive canyon is beneath you. This plays incredible mind tricks on someone who is already scared of heights and falling. I still cannot remember a time when I was more scared. I must have cried 2 or 3 times on the trail.
As we got further down, the ice subsided and we mostly hiked on dirt and rocks. It was a different experience to start a trip descending. There was a constant fight against gravity v. the weight of my backpack and trying to maintain balance.
Even amongst the fear, I was in awe of the majesty around me.
The trip to the bottom was 9 miles long on The Bright Angel trail, and we arrived at our campsite about 4.5 hours later. We set up camp and relaxed.
That night, even though I was completely exhausted, I had a hard time sleeping, because I kept thinking about how terrifying the trail had been, and knowing I would have to face it again days later.
Our time in the canyon was relaxing. We did a few day hikes, and spent a lot of time exploring, lounging, reading and napping in the sun. I never got used to how astonishingly breathtaking it was.
4 days later, we re-packed and headed out to meet the trail. I was hoping the way up would be easier because at least I would not be sliding down the trail, and looking down at sharp rocks, along with a huge canyon to potentially fall into.
And, while, that did prove to be true, I was meet with the challenge of hiking 9 miles uphill, and trying to make my way up an icy trail, when each step slid you back a little ways.
The first half of the hike on dirt on rocks went by easy enough, I felt the strain of the constant uphill, but nothing that a little rest and stretching did not help.
Once we started getting to the icy regions, it was much more of an effort not to slide and fall. It also felt that our steps were much shorter and we were taking longer to cover ground, since we would slide back so much.
Finally, over 6 hours later, we reached the top! I immediately started crying with relief. I felt like I had finished a marathon. It was odd to go through all that pain, emotion and strain, and not cross a literal finish line, with spectators cheering you on, and a medal being put around my neck.
Still, I felt insanely accomplished by what I had just completed! This was definitely one of the biggest challenges of my life. I often mentally refer to it when I am facing a trying situation, whether it’s physical, psychological or emotional. I remember how I persevered, even in spite of myself, to achieve something I felt was so far out of reach.
I would not call myself a brave adventurer. I still feel scared and intimidated by many things, but I no longer allow those things to get in the way of new experiences and learning opportunities.