hmmm... there is one hike
that really sticks in my mind year after year...
It's 1992, I'm an overweight, out-of-shape undergrad at the U taking a course in Geology. The class has an optional field trip to the Grand Canyon. Camping on the rim, dayhike to Plateau Point and back. I figure, I was in marching band for four years, right? I mean, walking all day is no biggie. I've done a handful of hikes, too - Sedona, the White Tanks, whatever. I can do this. So, with my Hi-Tek hikers, cotton flannel shirt, baseball cap, jeans and plastic military canteen I head down the Bright Angel with about 35 other students and a hand full of professors. It doesn't take much more than a mile before I'm too far behind to hear the short talks given by the profs and the various points of interest. I was the last one to arrive at Indian Gardens - many of the more fit boys and girls had already reached the river by that point and were nearly back. Much to my dismay, I was convinced that it was worth it to walk out to Plateau Point for "the view". I'd already missed the lecture. My feet were already badly blistered and beginning to swell. I got out to the Point, but my acrophobia wouldn't let me get close enough to the edge to really enjoy that famous "view". I limp back and eat my crackers and peanut butter before starting back out. I only dimly realized it at that moment, but I was already exhausted. As you can imagine, as the trail went uphill, I went down. There were a few people behind me - folks who had gone down to the river, some of the profs who were herding us up, and one or two people who were about as bad off as I was. At the base of the Coconino, I looked up and heard the phantom voice telling me I still had over 1000 vertical feet to climb. I sat on the side of the trail on a rock and began to ball (nope, I'm not joking, big girly tears!). An older woman who was hiking out with her grandchildren
stopped, sat down next to me and asked me what was wrong. I'll never forget what I told her:
"My mother's going to kill me." "Why?" She asks. "Because I'm going to die in this canyon and she's going to have to pay them to get my body out." (this had been part of the 'motivational' speech by the profs at the beginning of the trip). You just can't make up stories like that, can you.
Well, grandma got me up and walking, nursing me through those initial painful steps, and encouraged me not to give up. So I trudged up, painfully slowly, the early April sun quickly setting behind me. The other 'threat' from the profs was that if you didn't make the parking lot by a certain time, the shuttle to Mather would leave, and you'd have to walk the remaining 3 miles. Well, said shuttle was pulling out of the far end of the parking lot as I climbed the last couple of steps.
Needless to say, I began to cry all over again.
All ends happily, however... The profs, still nursing the last three people out of the canyon (yeah - if I was that bad, where were they!), weren't about to be walking back to the CG. They had a cushy van, and I gratefully took my seat in the back and rode in style. That night it was well below freezing, and my sleeping bag was probably older than I was and NOT warm. Three of us piled into my 2 person canvas slug tent for warmth. I was too tired-sick to eat. Too tired to sleep. So I lay awake staring at the musty brown canvas all night. That's when I made my vow:
That canyon can't win. It may have carried this battle - but it WASN'T over. I would be back, and I would prove to myself and the wild world that I wasn't the sad sack of flesh I felt like at that moment.
The rest, I suppose is history. I've been back more times than I can count. She's thrown her worst at me, but so far, she has only the one real victory. I think this may be a life long war
To make an absurdly long story even longer... the next day the group was bussed to Sunset Crater for the Lava Flow trail. I tried everything I could to get out of it, but they were convinced that a good walk was all I needed to loosen up my wooden legs and back. They were WRONG. Most painful mile of my whole life, bar none. :stretch: