GRAND CANYON AS A LIFE COACH: #2 THE GIVE AND TAKE
The Grand Canyon gives nothing so easily. Some could tell you that it has taken too much. In this land of extremes, one MUST learn the grace of balance,perseverance, and patience.
The draw of this place, the Canyon, is in many ways a double edged sword. For those that have put their time in, overcame the obstacles, and learned the way of the land in a place so harsh, also have probably built a strong NEED to be here, a true addiction to the power, beauty, and magnificence the Grand Canyon provides.
After many trips, maybe some that have not gone well, lessons are learned, serious skills are attained. These hardy individuals have gone out of their way, and pushed against a wall that didn’t want to let them in. The Grand Canyon does not just accept anyone, you have to prove your worth to this place before you are granted passage. In this process many are seeded out, and they move on to more “hospitable” environments.
So once a person finally does get let in, the curtains are pulled away, and this person is no longer just a visitor to this place, the Canyon becomes a home, a sanctuary, a playground, the best show on earth. You see the Canyon builds people, into better, smarter, stronger more capable versions of themselves. These feelings built upon, combined with a landscape you could never see all of, filled with visual and physical treasures galore, rich with history, all the challenge you could imagine, becomes very very addictive.
For many, the need to be in the Grand Canyon can supercede reason and season. Truly dedicating yourself to this place sometimes forces you to make very hard compromises. Dr. Harvey Butchart, a known Canyon addict, didn’t come home to his family many a weekend, nearly missed his own daughters’ wedding while on trips into the Grand Canyon. In his years obsessively exploring the Canyon, Harvey had been stuck out on a limb in a very unforgiving place many a time.
I have also taken some crazy risks to complete my goals here in Grand Canyon, I have taken my skill and intimacy with the Canyon for granted. In the fall of 2014 I was committed to finishing my section hike through the entire Canyon, from Lees to Pearce Ferry on the North side of the river. I had been working on this for a few years now, and had it stuck in my head that I must complete the traverse before my 30th birthday. That fall was hot and very dry, and on the Huitzil to Schmutz section (2nd to last section to complete) in October, I was finding very little water on the Esplanade. Many water pockets confirmed to be deep and trustworthy, I found dry, forcing me to walk very quickly in intense heat, going about a day and a half between water sources, dry camps and dry mouths every night from Kanab creek on. On the final day, after having no water for 1/2 day since the “lifesaver pocket” near the Cork, I was forced to dig for water in a Supai pouroff, and I’ll tell you I was happy to have that puddle of mud to get me out.
I got off that trip, hydrated up, and started planning my last section, Lava to Pearce to leave in about 10 days.
It hadn’t rained. And this next section across the Sanup is known to be much drier than Esplanade.
My best pard Glenn (a very, very experienced Canyon hiker/climber) told me I was being stubborn and foolish, that I should just wait for winter. I was only slightly shaken when he said ” You know if something happens to you out there people are going to say this could’ve been avoided by just being patient.” I went anyway, and completed my Northern Traverse of Grand Canyon just before my 30th birthday. I was lucky.
I have a deep intimate connection with Grand Canyon, I feel a huge undeniable NEED to be here. I have taken risks and compromised relationships to get to know this place better.
But! I think also in the years I’ve dedicated to the Canyon, I’ve gained the wisdom to know that this place will CRUSH you if you take it’s power for granted, think you can overcome it’s forces. The Grand Canyon demands your respect. Like a mountain you have to hit in the right weather and season window to summit, there is a season that offers no compromise here in Grand Canyon, and that’s the heat of the summer. I beg of anyone considering a trip during summer to Grand Canyon, to wait on that hike until cooler weather comes. With grace, swallow the NEED for Grand Canyon, give her respect, and never take her power for granted, no matter your experience.
~Longingly written from my Flagstaff office.