Being Brave or She Made Me Do It
Good friends sometimes have to push. As in push you down a hiking trail at the Grand Canyon.
Now I don’t mean shoving, more emotional urging. Encouragement. Wendy believed we had to make an appearance on a Canyon hiking trail. Just because we were there and the canyon is a place to see on foot rather than atop a scenic overlook. We had gazed upon the Canyon at sunset and as the backdrop during a history walk and a geology walk. We learned all about Mary Jane Elizabeth Colter, architect and designer who created several buildings along and inside the Canyon; we got the scoop on all the sandstone, mudstone and limestone layered inside the Canyon walls and the uplift that forged the majestic crags, crevices and rugged rocks that stretch for miles. Now it was time to take a look-see inside.
Yea, she had a point, but was this really a place for me, a walker? Cliffs, skimpy rock borders, hairpin turns? I felt a bit out of place. Seriously outfitted hikers were treading everywhere. They had sturdy walking sticks and water tubes snaking out of their backpacks and handkerchiefs knotted around their necks. They exchanged friendly hellos with bright smiles beaming from sun-browned skin. Their legs were taut and muscled. Cheekbones were chiseled as sharply as rock formations along the trail walls.
Again I wondered. Is this really the right place for a woman wearing a Talbot’s scarf and a Penn State hat? I had a Columbia vest and wore some Merrill hikers, but really, I was way outside my comfort zone. At least that’s what I was thinking as I picked my way over small rocks, packed dirt and mule poo.
But I kept going. The scenery was worth the internal battle I was waging and really, going down was pretty easy. On our first encounter with the trail we went down perhaps a quarter mile. Wendy was absolutely hooked and lobbied for a return trip the next day. I conceded because, well, it was pretty awesome, even though you could feel your lungs screaming on the return climb.
Next day we went down even further. Wendy was hoping to make it down a mile or so before we had to hike out and check out of El Tovar, but both of us turned back before it got too late. You’ve got to respect the effort to climb out of that beautful hole. It’s tough, although Wendy reports the trail levels off further down. She went much farther into the canyon than I did and got back just a few seconds after I arrived at the trailhead. I took lots of breaks for photos and oxygen but was proud of both our efforts.
Again, this was unplanned. Perhaps the west does that to you. The grandness of it coaxes a bit of grandness out of you too. I didn’t hike all that far–maybe a half-mile down–but it was a place I never imagined myself to be. I’m feelin’ good about that.