On Sunday, I almost died because I am terribly out of shape. But that is besides the point.
We got in the car around 7:00 am to start our 2 and a half hour drive to North Rim, Grand Canyon in Arizona. Driving through the hairpin bends of the Zion canyons were slightly alarming but mostly breathtaking. And we saw this family on the side of the road, grazing for breakfast.
We arrived at North Rim visitor center close to 10:30 am and started our hike after filling up our water bottles and looking at the different hike options. They were mostly easy hikes with only 2 moderate to difficult. Guess which one certain someone chose. Yes, “we” chose one of the moderate to difficult ones – of course. The North Kaibab trail went steeply down about 0.3 miles to Coconino overlook for a view of the Grand Canyon. My hope was to hike down there and hike right back up. We went down to the overlook, smiling at fellow hikers, giving way to mule riders and paying attention to mule poop and mule pee. Once we reached the overlook, we took a break taking in the scenery around us.
As we sat in the shade, we heard other hikers talking about Supai Tunnel further 1.7 miles down. 7 miles below that was Cottonwood campground and 7 miles further down was Roaring Springs at Colorado River. Sean gently nudged me to go down to Supai tunnel. The canyon around me was so magical and the hike down did not tire me out so I agreed to climb down further. With each switchback I thought to myself “what goes down must come up” but decided to worry about the climb later. We reached Supai Tunnel. Sean spoke to every single hiker that we passed. A jovial “Hi, how is it going?” Or some sort of jokey comment. It was evident he was in his element. The responses were mostly enthusiastic and friendly. Some, however, especially from those straining as they climbed up were just panting grunts. Their panting scared me but I valiantly kept climbing down.
After resting for a while at the tunnel and after replenishing our bodies with plenty of water and refreshments, we started our hike up to the top. And I almost died. It was a steep 2 mile climb with no level ground at all to regulate my breathing. At one point, I felt my heart was going to beat out of my chest. At every switchback, I sat down to bring my heartbeat down from 178 or so. Sean was right by my side the entire way, carrying our back pack, supplying me with water and saying, “Look how far you have come. Look, we are almost there.” I thought in my head I can not make it. But I did. It took a long time, but I made it up to the trail head. That feeling of accomplishment gave me such confidence. At the Coconino overlook, surrounded by the serene, regal canyons, I closed my eyes to meditate. Sean took a photo where a halo is seen above my head. It is nothing but the time of the day and the position of the sun. But when a friend said that looks like blessing from all those I lost, I liked it.
From the trailhead of North Kaibab trail, we hiked 1.4 miles back to our car, fortunately on level road, drank some more water and trail mix. Then we attempted the easy trail to see the depth of the Grand Canyon from the top rim. Bright Angel Point trail gave us this view along with hundreds of other excited hikers, busy snapping photos. Sean and I sat on some rocks quietly. I whispered to him, “Happy Anniversary!” It seemed the perfect place to tell him that I am so happy to be with him for the last 25 years.
On our way back we had delicious dinner at Wild Thyme in Kanab complete with a fantastic carrot cake. Drove through scary hairpin bends of Zion National forest as the sun set behind the canyons leaving their looming dark shapes and a bright orange hue in the horizon. The silhouette of the canyons were awe inspiring and the drive through those winding narrow mountain roads was harrowing.
We had a 14 hour day. My body needed an easier day but my spirit was ready to go. We were undecided on what to do on Monday but were sure we will think of something.