I looked down the canyon and felt my knees tingle, like they wanted to buckle. It was steep and I was about to hike my way down to the bottom with a pack on my back. The Grand Canyon is huge and vast and looking down on it made me feel extremely small and terrified to embark on something I had very little experience in.
For me, hiking consisted of trails around California that were shorter in distance and less strenuous. I definitely did not carry a 30 pound pack on my back either. I had trained for the hike by running for endurance, conditioning for strength and hiking the trails around San Diego to work on elevation. However, my training did not compare to the demands of the Canyon.
I was afraid to say the least. Everything was fine inside me until I faced the hike. The months leading up to it, I was excited and sure of myself and physical ability. But, when I saw the real hikers in their gear, I realized that I looked like a novice in my borrowed pack and 1 water bottle. I stopped at the gift shop to pick up another so I didn’t dehydrate. My feelings of inadequacy kept growing inside me.
It is amazing how fear can permeate and almost paralyze. The morning of the hike, I woke up with the sun afraid that I was going to fail and wanted to stop before it even began. As we began hiking down the South Kaibab Trail, my fear was replaced by courage. The farther we hiked down into the canyon, the more diverse the terrain became and the more my fear dissipated. I remember my first glimpse of the Colorado River after 4 hours of hiking switchbacks in the hot sun and felt a excitement at the sight of the canyon’s bottom.
After about 5 hours, the last hour with my knees shaking from fatigue, we made it to the bottom. Rain started pouring down and it felt so refreshing on our tired and overheated bodies. We took off our packs and sat down on the shore of the Colorado River and waited for the rest of our group to arrive. We refilled our water bottles at a nearby water station and let the rain cool us off.
We stayed at Phantom Ranch for 2 nights and took the time to take shorter hikes and lay in the sun by the river. The river is magnificent and Emerald green. The current is very strong, but near the shore there was room to safely wade. I jumped in the river to cool off and was shocked by the freezing temperature. Luckily, I was close to the shore, because I felt my body seize up and for a moment and feared I couldn’t move. I struggled to get back to shore grateful for the warm sun.
Nights at the bottom of the Canyon are peaceful and enveloped by stars. Conversation is easy and quiet is welcomed. The lack of technology provided a detachment from every day life and I was able to sit and think without distraction. For the first time in a very long time, I was completely in the moment and quite enjoyed it. I realized that my fear was also in anticipation for something great. Pushing myself to the limits was both frightening and exciting. This realization changed my outlook for the hike back up the canyon.
Early the next morning, we began our trek up the Bright Angel Trail. This hike is just over 9 miles and very steep. Each of us took our own pace and I stopped several times to catch my breath as elevation began to affect my breathing. This was by far the more difficult of the 2 hikes. The pack felt much heavier than on the hike down and by the time I reached the top, I was exhausted. I looked down and could not believe how far I had come and the fear that I once felt was transformed into courage. Sometimes the scariest treks can reap the most rewarding gifts. A deeper love for nature, my body and the friendships formed were my gifts from this transformed fear.
Who is Emily Silva? A gypsy soul, spiritual life coach and writer.
Where is her favorite travel destination? Costa Rica. Beaches, jungles, wildlife and beautiful friendly people…doesn’t get any better than that!
Where is her dream destination? Africa. I dream of Morocco and Cape Town often.
Motto in life? Never say Never. You never know what can happen…most of the time its awesome!
Emily specializes in life coaching from a spiritual level with focus on intentional living and creative expression. She helps people with career transitions, life goals and developing their intuition. For her spiritual blog and life coaching, go to www.soulsadventures.com
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