7 Things the Grand Canyon Taught Me

I hiked the Grand Canyon last weekend, top to bottom and back up again! Twenty miles in 115 degrees F, 6000 ft elevation change… and it was all in one day!

Here are some of the things I learned and some of the photos I captured.

Don’t stumble over something behind you.

In literal terms… yeah, don’t stumble. Because you are going to fall and maim yourself. But in figurative terms as well. It would’ve been easy to create a self-fulling prophecy of injury off of past ones in the knees and feet – but instead, it was time to focus on what we all knew our bodies were capable of accomplishing. If that meant pushing through some pain, then so be it.

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You have what it takes.

It’s not easy to hike that kind of distance in that kind of heat in that kind of time limit. But with the right tools, you can do it. Mindset included. A year ago, I couldn’t run around the block without struggling to the point of quitting.

But today, I recognize my own strength.

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Make yourself a priority.

We each had to think about our bodies in preventative measures. Drink when you aren’t thirsty, eat when you aren’t hungry. That way, you’re body won’t begin to deteriorate as quickly.

In the end, I lost about 9 pounds over the weekend. Even while doubling my calorie instake a day. Gaining my strength back is a top priority.

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You’ll get there.

Looking up at the curvature of red rock and speckled green trees while feeling the sweat drip off the back of your neck… it felt like the end was never going getting any closer. With aches from our feet to our shoulders, a solitary thought kept us going: we will finish this. We will get there.

 

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Embrace the silence.

The stillness of the Canyon once the sun sets and the cicadas quiet down is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Sitting on jagged rocks, exhausted and knowing we still had miles to go, our little party decided to relish in the unnatural quiet of this magical wonder of the world. We turned off our headlamps and sat in the darkness; the full moon hiding behind clouds and creating an eerie effect on the towering cliffs of rock surrounding us. There was no wind, no talking, and no crunching of rocks beneath our feet. It was pure silence… and it was a beautiful moment.

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You can find strength in darkness.

The cliffs were a bit daunting when we headed down to the Colorado River, but we were still singing merrily and easy-going at that point. It was coming back up, in the late hours of the evening, when the cliffs were a real issue. Headlamps kept our hands free for our hiking poles, but you had to make sure you were looking at the ground in front of you so you wouldn’t trip. The darkness sparred us the looming cliffs – the risk involved with swaying slightly to the right and into sheer darkness is still high, but like a horse with blinders on… sometimes its easy to push through and you don’t know what’s beside you.

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Love your loved ones fiercely.

Without Cam & my dad, it wouldn’t have been as rewarding. Both of them were there for me during challenging moments and both of them worked so hard.  In the early morning hours, close to reaching the rim and closing in on being awake and hiking for 21 hours… it was tough not to get emotional. Also, my own stench was awful, lol. But for real, its in those moments of bleary-eyed exhaustion that one can realize just how much they love someone else.

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-Jenni

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