It’s been quite a year. Terminal disease (my immediate family), not terminal but the same disease (me), plus medical procedures galore, funerals, and a breakup. Despite all that, there’ve been many great things, too. Like my camping trip in Grand Canyon, which almost didn’t happen because I’m a giant dork.
I got to Grand Canyon a day early to get ready for my first hike in and out of that seemingly bottomless, endless rift, and thought it would be a great idea to do a warm-up hike the night before. I’d been training at home on the treadmill – incline workouts at 7,000 feet in Taos – and was feeling pretty confident about my abilities.
And then. I was on the tiniest of downhills on the rim trail (the rim trail, for crying out loud!), and hit some scree. At which time my feet flew out from under me, I landed crookedly on my right ankle, and felt such severe pain I thought I’d vomit. My ankle quickly sprouted what looked like a plum, then my whole ankle became a shiny, hideous apple. Awesome.
I had already paid for the trip, and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to experience it just because of some rookie hiking mistake. They could strap me to a donkey! Or tow me in a little wagon! (Which is ridiculous, because the trails are rough and steep, but still.) I was getting down into the canyon, blooming ankle or no.
The upshot is this: I learned I’m much more physically capable than I thought. I knew I hadn’t broken the ankle, just sprained it, and with massive doses of Ibuprofen (I know, it’s bad for your GI system, but boy is it effective), as much icing and elevating the night before as I could handle, and trekking poles which essentially became crutches, I made it. Down seven miles on the rough South Kaibab trail in the heat, hiking the next day around Phantom Ranch, then 9.5 miles back out the Bright Angel trail (which was actually easier despite it being longer).
And you know what? It was an absolute blast. In fact it was so much fun I’m planning a solo backpacking trip (my first) in Olympic National Park this September, but more about that later.
I want to say one more thing before sharing some photos: you’re probably way more physically capable than you think, too. I’ve realized it’s important – maybe even critical – to challenge yourself at whatever age or ability you’re at, because when you do conquer that difficult thing? You’re going to feel like a badass, and you’ll always know you can do that thing and probably even more. Trust me.
If you liked this post, feel free to share it with the buttons below!