The Grand Canyon! – Part 4 (Struggling to the Finish – The Beautiful, Beautiful Finish)

April 19, 2012

Picking up from Part 3, we’re hiking up South Kaibab.

On the way down, I would not shut up about how pretty the Grand Canyon was. I kept looking down at my feet as we walked. And every time we stopped, I looked up and couldn’t believe where I was. Every time. You’d think the beauty would’ve been all old hat by the third or fourth time it happened. But no. I was amazed every time. And I took forty billion pictures.

On the way up South Kaibab, I finally became more and more over it as time went on. I was so over taking pictures. This thing that had lured me in with its beauty now had me trapped!

I was having an awesome time, but hating how much I was struggling (while the boys around me weren’t struggling at all).

As we get closer and closer to the top, I get slower and slower. Josh starts to fall behind to talk to me. In super labored breathing, I say, “Go. Go do your thing,” I didn’t want to hold him back. And he says, “You’re my thing.” And stays with me!

In any other context, “You’re my thing” might sound weird. But I thought it was the perfect thing to say here. Put that in a movie ’cause that’s where people usually say the exact right things.

Josh on top of the world!… or a portion of the Grand Canyon at least.

While we’re talking about Josh, he actually had another perfect reply moment over an hour later, when I was really feeling guilty about being so slow. I said, “Go. Keep up with your friends.” He said, “You’re my friend.” Was he or was he not on fire that day?

Sometimes I forget how great of a friend Josh is. I also forget how funny and good at listening he is. An example that illustrates both of those qualities – in the canyon, I said a few times how excited I was to cry about all of this later. Much later, when we were hugging goodbye, I asked if we could cry about it. He said, “Well, I know how much you’ve been looking forward to it all day,” See? He listened to my blathering (which I had actually forgotten about), and had a really funny response.

Anyway, enough of that. With only a couple of miles to go, we all stop one more time to eat. I break out the Doritos, since they are pretty much a superfood. Adam seems to think bringing Doritos was a genius idea. Well, shucks. Thanks. Of course I share and bask in the glory of being a total boss at hiking. Well, except for the fact that I was basically out of water by this point. All of the boys had extra, ’cause they were the real bosses of hiking. They sweetly shared.

I struggle like never before in the final mile and half or so of the ascent. I was pretty sure we were never getting out. The trail just wraps around forever, right? There is no exit. I live here now?

I have friends who have hiked the Grand Canyon (other non-hiking friends, mind you) who were all, “Oh, it’s so fun. It’s an amazing hike. We just went down 6 miles and back up. No big deal.” How is it that I am the only person I know who struggles here?

I like to think that it has something to do with the altitude. Someone did point out that I live basically at sea level. 7,000 feet above that is rough.

This has been a very rude awakening for me about how exceptionally hard Kilimanjaro is going to be. I used to think “altitude, schmaltitude.” Nope. I think it matters.

One of these spots would be a nice place to put that pic from the end of the day after we conquered the canyon… too bad it’s on someone else’s camera, since my phone had died by that point. I’m looking at you, Josh!

As we’re walking up the final switchbacks, and I don’t think we’re ever getting out, Josh is pretty sure that we are. He was a great motivator, believing we would get to the end.

I like to think I was still a tiny bit fun at the end, but I was delirious by that point, so what do I know? I was probably a huge cranky pants.

Lo and behold, we turn a corner, and there’s the exit! No way! Laughter through tears (ish) – the best emotion. (I was too tired to actually cry (unless you had needed me to in a show, at which point I’m always game).)

We did it! Over a half marathon distance of the Grand Canyon covered. It was a struggle, but a crazy fun one. The boys were awesome. The scenery was gorgeous. The workout was amazing.

Watch out canyon, I’m coming for you next time! Colorado River and back. I can do it! (Yep, that’s right. Apparently, I didn’t learn anything.)

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