I was sitting here trying to think of a clever title for this blog post, but really, no other words or titles are needed – Grand Canyon is accurate. To me the Canyon is one of the most beautiful and most powerful places on Earth and I’m very fortunate that this trip in July was my third journey down the river. My last trip had been seven years ago and I had forgotten how spectacular, healing, magnificent and fun it is. It was good to be back and this time I chose to hike in from the South Rim down the Bright Angel trail to meet up with the trip – a new adventure!
The evening that I arrived at the South Rim it was raining, cloudy and cold – not typical mid-summer desert weather. There were lots of tourists at the various lodges in the village, but everyone seemed to be inside staying warm, playing cards and hanging out. Knowing that this was my chance to see the rim and not knowing when I’d be back, I decided to venture out. Off to the rim I went in the drizzling rain and the mist. I walked across the street to the path through the pine, cedar and juniper forest. After about 15 minutes I realized that the view through the trees was no longer more trees and forest, but instead, what I was seeing was nothingness. Just a big open space. It was very surreal to walk right up to the edge of what the Paiute Indians called Kaibab – ‘mountain lying down.’ I exhaled a big open mouth sigh into that wide open space of possibility. It was breathtaking – literally.
I made my way down a rock outcropping to a slab at the very edge where I could sit and just be with this incredible place. It was still raining and I’m pretty sure I sat right in a puddle of water, but I didn’t care. Being able to meditate by myself at the edge of the Grand Canyon was worth it. Clouds of mist drifted around in space and one rose up along the canyon wall where I was sitting and engulfed me. It felt like a blessing and cleansing for my journey.
The next morning I woke up early to start my hike. As I walked along the rim trail to the Bright Angel trailhead I was happy to see people out enjoying the view even though it was still a little cloudy. It was really cool to hike down through the different rock layers that mark moments and events in time preserved in the canyon walls. There are several bathrooms and water stations on the Bright Angel trail so it makes for very pleasant hiking.
Halfway down the lush foliage and shade of Indian Garden is quite welcoming. Further along the trail winds beside a creek and drops into a little canyon. I came around a corner and was surprised to see my husband Andrew who had hiked up the trail from the river to meet me. The solitary hike had been good for reflection and I was happy to have company for the second half. After reaching the river and meeting up with the trip (my in-laws!) we paddled 18 miles down to camp. Big day – 10 mile hike + 18 mile paddle! When was the last time I did this? Never! Needless to say my body was really sore and I slept really well!
Waking up to the canyon walls rising around us in the early morning light was incredibly beautiful and comforting. There is something special about the Canyon that enables me to be present in each moment. Once I’m there I’m there. River trips are my favorite vacations because once I’m at the river I have nowhere else to go, nothing else to do other than float down, set up camp, cook, clean, eat, go to bed under the stars, wake up and do it all over again. Not to mention the total disconnection to technology and the total connection to nature. Complete rejuvenation.
One thing that was present for me when I was in my kayak looking up and around at the magnificence of the Canyon, was that because I am nature, I too am part of this magnificence. In my daily life of work, routine and responsibilities it’s easy to become disconnected from who I really am. The Grand Canyon reminds me of my connection to that ‘grandness,’ to everything that is beautiful and magnificent in the world. This helps me out in my life, especially when I get caught up in what’s wrong with the world or with myself. River trips are sweet opportunities for remembering what is right in the world and what is beautiful.
Here are some photos and a few unedited videos of rapids from the trip. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in experiencing the rejuvenation of a multi-day river trip then consider joining our Main Salmon kayak/raft/yoga wilderness river retreat. You won’t be disappointed. As a meme that I recently shared states: ‘I regret spending money on that epic, life-changing trip. Said no one. Ever.’