Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventuresLovelle Drachman
Being asked to tackle a bucket list adventure with our good friend Angel, I wasn’t aware how big this bucket list adventure was going to be. I had googled everything I could regarding hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim but the results varied. As the day drew closer the excitement and nervousness kicked into full gear, as I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the unknown of the Grand Canyon. Having only one other grueling hike from our trip to Havasupi in March with 50lbs of camping gear, this seemed like a lighter hike in terms of carrying weight.
The day soon arrived to packing up and I was tasked with a shopping list of snacks and over 4 gallons of water. I was surprised at the mass amount of water that piled into the back of the SUV and my response to Sasha was, “Dude you know we have to carry that water into the canyon and out.” This decision was a life saver due to the nature of how extreme the temperature rose that day.
This would be my second time at the Grand Canyon, and the most intense adventure to date. As we started our descent into the canyon the weather was cool with a very clear blue sky and no cloud in sight. Pacing ourselves down the grand staircase of switchbacks and amazing views, we reached our first stop to enjoy a quick refuel and bathroom break. The smiles were beaming from each of us as we continued on to the next stop. The sun began to beam heat into the canyon as if the walls were mother nature’s oven. This is where the true test began for myself as I entered a grand journey into my own self consciousness.
As the sun heated up the walls and the earth beneath our feet, I began to question my abilities under the extreme heat of the Arizona sun. The weather warning of excessive heat set off a series of alarms in my body and mind. Continuing through the canyon Sasha and I ventured off the trail to see the sights of a waterfall, but we soon realized how important it was to stay on task to conserve our energy. We drank every sip of water we had on our way to Phantom Ranch, and I started to cuss silently to myself, “Where the f**k is this place?! Why are these turns, turning into more turns?!S**t, i’m starting to get cold! Why aren’t I sweating anymore?!”
We soon reach Phantom Ranch, and our group finally met up with the refreshing Lemonade bought by our friend Kendall and thinking to myself,” This is even better than the one at the Gallup fleamarket!” We dropped our gear and replenished our water and cooked some ramen noodles to replace the sodium lost in our bodies. As we all gathered, we all saw the temperature reading of 115 and the last 8.5 miles seemed impossible. With the rest of an hour, a belly of lunch and more water in our packs we began the 2nd leg of our adventure.
My legs kept moving at this point, but my mind was outside my body wanting to flee. Physically my foot and toes had blisters, skin rashes under my arms, my skin was on fire, my knees were aching, and my back began to spasm. Angel and Darrin reassured us that there was a beach with cold water where we could hang out for a bit before hitting the harder part of the south rim. Each of us, beaten, tired, sore, fatigue and emotionally checked out, the sight of the Colorado River felt like the healing waters in the game Zelda. My spirit came back to my body as I was walked into the cold powerful healing waters and offered my prayers. This water running ice cold down this hot canyon was the healing we all needed to continue on. Each of us looked renewed as if we just started a whole new hike, and we were set to go.
The last leg of this trip, I think I walked into what I would call a spirit journey. I had more moments of doubt, headaches, pain, fear and thirst. The mental breakdown began to intensify as the sun started to disappear, and the only light left to guide me was my headlamp. With Sasha and Kendal ahead, Angel and Darrin behind me, I was left alone for a large part of the trek going up the south rim. My mind began to see, hear and speak to things that were or weren’t there. I started to reveal my regrets silently to the darkness around and it began to speak back. The waters of the creek became conversations of many voices, and the stories from my grandma came alive. Do not walk in the dark alone, do not walk around the cliffs and do not talk to whatever appears.
I prayed for my sanity at this point because the voices were bouncing off the canyon walls and the eyes watched my every move. Soon to the sweet relief I caught up with Kendall and Sasha at the Indian Garden water station. Refilled with electrolytes and pretzels, the last 4.4 miles were my worst. Again, I walked alone for a good 2 miles, fighting off the fear and doubt that covered me like the darkness of the night. I said small prayers, offered thanks that I had gotten this far and screamed at my body to make it to the top. Soon I was stopped by two lingering lights in the dark, and our friend had fallen ill but encouraged Sasha and I to keep moving. Like many pep talks before this, we gave each other our encouraging nods and started the homestretch of this massive staircase.
The headlamps behind us started to grow faint and the worry for our friends was heavy as we made progress upwards. Sasha had suddenly stopped and pulled out her knife, quietly stating that eyes along the cliff followed us. We kept moving with fear, panic and the overwhelming tiredness of the last 23 miles we had hiked. Asking one another if we were okay, and knowing deeply that we weren’t good. The encouragement from Sasha kept me guided in the darkness, even after my headlamp had died.
Soon enough my back started to spasm forcing me to hunch over in extreme pain, but not waiting to stop, Sasha took it upon herself to take my day pack and carry it the rest of the way. With no more weight on my back and two hiking poles, the walking kept going, and soon a strange encounter. As the moon was creeping its way over the walls of the canyon a man had stopped us, with no headlamp, shorts and tennis shoes. The hair stood up on my neck and this felt like a supernatural being walking along the canyon trail. The exchange was short, and with half a mile to go, I wanted to quit. I had nothing left, no energy, I was angry, I was sad, I was hopeless and I just wanted to lay where I was. Sasha with her unending words of encouragement, we reach the top. We hugged each and burst into tears of joy, of pain, of worry, and accomplishment. The official time of 11:50 pm.
The adventure of seeking new places, lead me to having an inner and outer body experience. My faith kept me walking forward in every step. My training keep my body moving even when I thought it was impossible to do so. My mental breakdown became my mental break through. And my heart kept me patient even when I feared the darkness and battled the heat.
I would be wise to advice anyone to train, to research, to plan and enjoy every adventure you set yourself on. Thank you for reading and God Bless.
And a big high five to the five of us for the shared stories, the laughs, the tears, and the accomplishment. Cheers to the 1%
“Pray Strong, Train Strong, Finish Strong”