Not in a way your 4th grade crush told you when you were bugging her on the playground. Not the way a store clerk tells a solicitor or a panhandler. Get lost on that trail you haven't taken, but have wanted to. Get lost in some writing or what you believe in and love to do. Get lost in something that makes you say, "Yeah, I know why I'm alive." Getting lost will help you get found.
The Bright Angel Trail is one of the main trails on the South Rim of the canyon. It takes you deep into the canyon, and directly to the Colorado river. You can see where the trail ends on the plateau, where the River trail continues onto the Colorado river and the Phantom Ranch. Completing the entire trail there and back is intended for somewhat experienced hikers and is not advised to be completed in one day. I did not know this.
As I was admiring the canyon view, I vaguely noticed several others hiking up the mountainside with hiking poles and sweaty shirts, looking like shriveled starfish longing for water and rest. Not me, I was fueled by my mission to get down the mountain and to the plateau.
I got to the bottom of the canyon around 2:30 p.m. No sweat. I had over a liter of water, 2 gatorades, an orange, and a Clif Bar. Little did I know, I would need it all. But I noticed something odd. Where was everyone?
Me and a trail. Alone at the bottom of a canyon made by wind and water. Bliss. The layers of sandstone, shale, and limestone so distinct at this level. The air was dry and rather hot in the sun, but as I got closer to the plateau, the sun moved closer to being behind the canyons edge.
As I arrived at the plateau, my goal accomplished, I added up the miles I had already walked: 5.5 miles. In the back of my mind, I thought about the walk back up but then the view encompassed my being.
The irony of claiming words and pictures can't do it justice and I am attempting to describe it and show it to you. These basic unfiltered pictures look good, but to be there was mesmerizing. Hysterical. It was so gorgeous I could cry, but of course I didn't do that because that is not manly. I was so engrossed in this moment but it crossed my mind several times: Why was I not sharing it with anyone?
Here it is, me sharing a majestic moment in life that was physically shared with no one, and spiritually shared with the world. This view is my in my top 3 favorite views. (I can't determine my #1 because I am always looking for one better).
Then, the walk back began after an hour of gawking at the purity of this beautiful planet of ours. I am no where close to being a professional hiker, but I have had my fair share of hikes. This 5.5 mile hike uphill takes the cake for intensity. It was almost as difficult as climbing the Zugspitze in Germany (and that took several days). Imagine walking up a steep hill for 3 straight hours. I drank all of my liquid, ate all of my snacks, and lost momentum at 3 miles up, where I suddenly envied those hiking poles I mocked and overlooked on the way down. I practically crawled to the finish, where I arrived with wobbly legs, dehydrated pours, and a sweat-stained shirt. The wind was so bitter and cold I nearly caught hypothermia. Suddenly, shorts and a t-shirt did not seem as good of an idea as it did walking down the hill.
I made it back to the board that had the info about the trail. I had overlooked this board because I was entranced by the vast wonder of the view ahead. The board said the trail is 11 miles, and is advised to not be walked in one day, and to rest often. I felt like a total noob in my exhaustion, but I was happy. I proceeded to the gift shop for a sweater, and then the Bright Angel Bar for a Canyon brew, and a big meal because big girl gotta eat after that hike.
Overall, I learned a lot about myself on this impromptu trip. For example:
- Don't mock the people who look pathetic when you don't understand their journey. They could be going through some kind of hell you have no idea about, and you could be in their position soon enough.
- Plan ahead. This one speaks for itself. I usually plan somewhat ahead on most of my adventures, but this trip to the Grand Canyon was spontaneous and I believed I had enough liquid to complete the trip. I did, but not by much. Any less, and I could have been in trouble with the lack of people around. Always prepare more than less.
- I found myself in utter awe of it all. I loved every moment of it and I was in a state of ecstasy that had me elated and light on my feet and motivated until the very end. Although I felt passionate about hiking this trail, I felt something missing: a companion! Share your experiences with others, invite someone along, see what happens. I enjoy solo experiences, but sharing this moment with someone who enjoys a nice hike would have made it all the better.
I left the Grand Canyon after a short and amazingly sweet day, and next time I will be staying a whole week in a tent by the river.
See you soon, majesty.