That’s the question I’ve heard repeated since we returned from the Grand Canyon on Saturday. I immediately reply, “Amazing!” but inside I wonder, how much time do you have?
Dan and I went to the Grand Canyon to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We planned to hike from the North Rim to the South Rim on a four-day backpacking trip. While this seems far from a vacation to some of you, it’s our idea of a grand adventure.
Of all the millions of people who visit the Grand Canyon each year, only 2% descend below the canyon rim onto one of the many trails. Only 1% hike to the bottom to Phantom Ranch. And fewer still hike from one rim to the other. I wanted to be one of the few.
Before the trip I prayed for four things specifically—
- That Dan and I'd survive
- That we’d have fun
- That we’d reconnect and reinvigorate our relationship
- That I’d have good hair days
God answered three of my prayers abundantly.
(Turns out, short of a miracle, going four days without a shower makes good hair a near impossibility. Maybe that’s why God created baseball caps and 'do-rags.)
With newly-filled backpacks we departed from the North Rim in the early afternoon last Sunday.
|Ready to head out from the North Rim.|
|First views of the Canyon. There was even still snow on the ground.|
In the depths of the Canyon one learns a lot about herself (or himself)—about perseverance and fortitude. One also learns a lot about God. Every bend in the trail, every flower blooming, every newly spied vista and every sweeping landscape literally shouts the testimony of our awesome Creator. People may enter the Canyon as an atheist, but I don’t see how they leave as one.
|View of the Colorado River taken from the "silver bridge"|
|Even in such harsh conditions, beautiful flowers bloomed.|
- Life and death
- Immense and tiny
- Rugged and tender
- Arid and aquatic
- Ancient and contemporary
- Desolate and abundant
- Friendly and foreboding
- Dusty and damp
- Hospitable and hostile
When we were in the Canyon, one fact remained ever-present—it must be respected.
There were so many memorable moments on our trip that it’s hard to pick just one favorite. The third day—the one I was so fearful of—turned out to be the best day, filled with highlights from sun up to sun down.
|On Plateau Point at sunset. Jeremy (to the right) is making our dinner!|
However, for sheer exhilaration, nothing tops the feeling I had as we completed the last half-mile of the Bright Angel Trail and emerged on the South Rim. Tired and grungy, but oh so ecstatic! What a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to gaze across the Canyon to the North Rim and say, “I did it!”
|Steps away from the South Rim!|
I was so excited that I told any of the South Rim tourists who glanced my way what we'd done! Even those who didn’t speak English seemed impressed (or befuddled by the crazy, American backpacker). And during the rest of our time in AZ, I managed to work the words "backpack, Grand Canyon and Rim-to-Rim" into every conversation I had. (Have I mentioned I'm ecstatic over our trip?)
In the next few installments I’m going to write about some of the things I learned. The thoughts are still simmering so I’m not sure exactly where this will go. Stay tuned …
P.S. We used a guide company for our trip: Just Roughin' It. I highly recommend them if you're thinking about an adventure like this.