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.
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.
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.)