I climbed in and out of the Grand Canyon last weekend. It was damn hard. And as a coach, it seems like an occupational hazard that I have to learn from everything I do, and so after a week of recovering and bringing my scattered thoughts together, I bring you (drum roll, please!):
15 Things I learned While Hiking the Grand Canyon
- The only way up is up. I didn’t have a lot of choice than to get out of the canyon – I either did so on my own steam or gave up and would have to be (quite dramatically) rescued by a mule. It’s true in life, too. Sometimes we just need to climb to get through.
- Don’t try a new supplement on race day. I knew this. I did. And yet, when someone handed me an all-natural, blueberry extract super supplement, I took it. About 6km later, I crashed, and the last 5km (it felt like 50!) was its very own version of Hell.
- I want to have a different relationship with alcohol. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t hungover, or anything. I just had a lot of time to be in my body, and it feels like one of the things it asked for was a shift in this. I haven’t had a drink since I got home and I’m going dry for the next month. It seems good to shake things up a little.
- Yes, I have a sturdy, healthy little body. I have curves that I love and enjoy. There is so much I love about this body I am in. AND. I want it to outwardly match the warrior I carry on the inside. I want the body I walk in to be the testimony of the strength and power and grace and resilience I have in my soul. As I ease out of the weekend, it is forefront in my mind how I will move ahead and how I would like this body to feel and look.
- I AM a warrior – 55,000 steps, 19 miles, 4000 foot gain in altitude in one afternoon…just a little bit of badassery there.
- Love really is everywhere. I saw two hearts as I climbed. Here’s one of them:
7. Mules are just as stubborn as you’ve heard. We came across a bit of a revolt; a tangle of 12 (they are tied together in groups as the carry cargo up the trail) was in a mess, and in the untying process to untangle them, two decided to make a trot for it and refused capture for about a kilometre. Fun. And it was very clear that they had made up their minds to take a little break from the sweaty climb.
8. I am looking for more with my vacations now. I realized that visiting cities is nice, and shopping is nice, and the beach is nice, but none of it has been all that fulfilling. The ocean and the beach will always have a place for me to find space and perspective and rest, and that’s so important to my joy. (Always!), but I am more and more called to seeing more of outside, and pushing my own limits and comfort zones. I think I first noticed it in Colombia, when I spoke so little Spanish and was so clearly out of my communicating little bubble of Tara-ness, that I liked being pushed to explore and be uncomfortable. It still interests me to cross all the states and provinces off my list to explore, but as I am with friends and conversations, all that feels secondary to bigger conversations and bigger, meatier travels.
9. We are really, really tiny in the scheme of it. Seriously. Just look at this photo:
10. If it is raining when you start a big hike, you can probably leave the can of sunscreen behind and use the space in your pack for something more fun. Like a jet pack.
11. There is not as much cell service in the canyon as they tell you. There’s actually almost none. I wasn’t trying to make a bunch of calls, but it would have been nice to live-stream a little when we took breaks and post to Instagram.
12. If you aren’t someone who enjoys peanut butter and banana to begin with, it will be the last thing you want to wolf down at the bottom of the canyon. It will be all you have to look forward besides changing your socks.
13. Changing your socks in the middle of a 30K hike will feel like you suddenly have new legs.
14. Mules (at least the Grand Canyon ones) have the brightest poop. It’s almost pretty. And it smells like grass.
15. Sometimes you can’t see the end of the trail or the top of the mountain you know you will have to reach; all you have is the moment you are in. I swear, the last 5km went on for about 7, and all I could tell was the next switchback I was aiming for. The end was never in sight, unless you counted being able to see the sky. It’s just like life that way, and the key is to stay in the moment and have some faith that the finish line is somewhere.
I’ve either just saved you a trip, or enticed you enough to take it on yourself: which is it?