Pre-Canyon Jitters

Here is the first post offering you a virtual Grand Canyon experience: Pre-Canyon Jitters, The Astonishing Descent, The Inner Gorge, and The Empowering Ascent.

After a lovely stay at my uncle’s Phoenix area palace, we headed to Sedona. Red Rock Country is famous for two reasons: its vibrant rock formations and its vortex points.

In case you aren’t attuned to the New Age hippie scene, a Vortex point is a centralized flow of spiritual, and possibly magnetic, energy purported to uplift and invigorate you. Obviously, our hike back up the canyon could only be helped by such a place.

I saw these rocks as people, the sentries of Sedona.

Airport Mesa offered the nearest available vortex point and a spectacular panorama of rock formations. Joe spent time gazing at the view while I meditated on harnessing the vortex. Whether it was the vortex or the warmth of the Arizona sunshine, we were definitely energized by the stop.

After a spectacular drive through Coconino National Forest, we arrived at the Canyon.

While planning our trip back in Minnesota, our virgin voyage to the base of the Grand Canyon and back sounded exciting and adventurous.

When we got our first good look at the canyon, at the head of the famous Bright Angel Trial, the feat seemed more than a little daunting. The trail looked steep. It looked icy. It looked like such a long, long way down. And a long way back up!

This mother of two fully intended to continue mothering at the end of this crazy adventure. Suddenly that goal seemed to conflict with our travel plans.

I very nearly lost my nerve. It sounds silly to me now, given how well the trip went, but in the moment I came very close to spending the weekend at the lodge instead.

The climb down was reportedly rigorous, but I assumed down would work itself out. In contrast our climb up would find us increasingly sweaty in decreasing temperatures, a recipe for hypothermia. Hiking ever higher on weary legs through a thinning atmosphere on increasingly slippery trails seemed…. well… ill-advised.

And to top off my worries, they were predicting snow for the day of our ascent.

Recently I’ve become an expert in taming my nerves, and this time my method was very simple:

I told everyone we encountered at Grand Canyon Village and even earlier, at our stop in Sedona, what we intended to do.

“We are going to hike the Canyon tomorrow.” I blurted out ridiculously, almost as a challenge. Each time I awaited a response that would make me cancel the trip… You know, a skeptical appraisal of my physical fitness level, a series of tsks, or a sorrowful you’re-living-on-borrowed-time sort of look followed by a free drink.

The last supper at the Bright Angel Restaurant. We felt like royalty, ordering everything on the menu.

Everyone I told, from the kid checking us in at Bright Angel Lodge, to the gas station attendant in Sedona, to our cheery server at dinner that night, reacted the same way: “You are going to love it!”

Those who had already done the hike envied us that “first time” feeling of entering the canyon. Those who hadn’t done it recounted stories of friends and other travelers.

No one seemed the least bit concerned about the likelihood of our return.

Entering our Bright Angel cabin.

Still, it was hard to fall asleep the night before. I kept going over my packing list, wondering what I could ditch to trim down the weight of my 30 pound pack and Joe’s 40 pounder. Wondering if I should preemptively wear my ankle brace. Wondering and worrying and anticipating until I finally drifted off to surprisingly calming dreams of a successful trip.

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