I have been away and off the grid for several days in the Grand Canyon without cell service or internet since my last post. My plan to daily video blog wasn’t possible because of lack of connectivity. However, it was really nice to be off the grid, no emails, text messages or social media. Just lovely peace and quiet of nature. Time to step back and take it all in.
The biggest challenge I was worried about was the hike, in and out of the canyon. Was I fit enough to do it? Would they have to helicopter me out of there? Or send me back up by mule….?
I never expected that the biggest challenge to be our flights to Phoenix! Our initial flight in Buffalo was delayed so we ended up missing our connection setting off a domino effect to us not getting us to the Grand Canyon for two more days. My friend’s daughter was flying from Colorado to meet us there and was stranded at the Phoenix airport. It was a nightmare on so many levels.
We decided to take our delayed flight to Chicago and take our chances of flying standby for the two of us. It was Spring Break so this presented a problem because all of the flights were over-sold. We stood by and watched with horror as the flight filled up and there were no seats left for us.
The flight attendant took pity on us for the first time that day and started searching for solutions. Wait! There are two spots on the 10pm flight tonight getting in at midnight to Phoenix except we had a 3 hour drive to the Grand Canyon that night.
We asked if they would put us up at a hotel in Phoenix? Nope!
Suddenly two seats turned up on the 5pm flight. Hey! That could work, we would get into Phoenix at 7pm and then we could make the 3 hour drive because we would still be able to get our rental car, perfect! Grateful, we took that flight. So thankful that we would be able to get my friend’s daughter and drive to the grand canyon that night and resume our scheduled hike preparations.
We had 5 hours to kill at the Chicago airport wearing masks and exhausted from the trials of that early morning panic and the knowledge that we had a 3 hour drive at what would feel like midnight to us because of the time change. Then we saw signs for a yoga room. I was intrigued. I had spent the last 3 days training for my yoga teaching position so the last thing I wanted to do was more yoga but I didn’t care if I laid in shivasana (aka nap) the entire 5 hours.
When we walked in, there was calm, soothing music playing, yoga mats, and another person doing yoga who invited us in. It was lovely! By coincidence she happened to be a YogaSix instructor from San Diego and I was training to be a YogaSix instructor in Buffalo. I got changed into my comfy yoga clothes and did some stretching and before we knew it, we were in a zen place enjoying our extra-long layover in the Chicago airport. We were able to take off our masks, nap and have a little picnic. It was wonderful!
The universe was looking out for us. We made the best of a bad situation. We got to relax, we got to our destination, we rescued my friend’s daughter. All was well. And the uncanny part of it all was even as it was playing out, I knew it would work out. I knew the universe always has my back.
The next day, we picked up my friend’s mom in Flagstaff and we made our way to the mule transfer to deliver our supplies for our overnight stays in Phantom Ranch. We were so fortunate, we didn’t have to carry our personal belongings and we were even able to send down a couple of bottles of wine.
I didn’t realize how heavy a day’s supply of water is so I was grateful water and some food were all I had to carry on the 7 mile hike down to the Colorado River. I also didn’t realize how painful it is hiking down a steep incline on my calves and ankles. This was my first real hike so I was in for a lot of surprises.
Nevertheless, the beauty of the canyon was astonishing. I felt like I was a Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings. I felt tiny and insignificant and the views at every turn didn’t disappoint me. It was hard to feel the discomfort of the hike when surrounded by such beauty, the weather was perfect, the air was crisp and clean and it got warmer as we descended to the bottom. I couldn’t help but feel this was a metaphor of life, when the journey is tough, make sure to look around and enjoy the beauty, enjoy the journey, always!
When we got to the Colorado River, it looked so inviting. There was a beach and people in the water. I wanted to put my dirty, dusty feet in the water so bad. That lasted about 5 seconds. The water was ice cold. The people who were bathing in the water were disciples of the ice bath movement to cure all things painful. I wasn’t having anything to do with it. My friend’s mom, who is 72 walked right in and submerged her calves and knees for 10 straight minutes. She is one tough lady!
I sat on the beach and marveled at the trail we descended to get there. Man, I am one powerful lady and I have a powerful body. What an accomplishment! There is an energy in the Grand Canyon that I have tried to describe before. I soaked it up and received the gifts it was giving me. Along with the ice-cold water. Something very powerful was happening to me. That was good because I still had to get up the canyon in two days….
We had a wonderful stay in Phantom Ranch. We were so blessed to get those accommodations through some luck of my friend’s and Covid delaying the trip for two years, I was invited to join her and her family. We had hot meals and hot showers and the most comfortable bunkbeds I have ever slept in. I honestly have not slept that well in years. I think the trick to good sleep is hiking 30,000 steps a day and having no internet.
After a prayer and some yoga stretches on a tree stump outside our cabin, I made my hike up and out of the canyon. I was fearful of the 10 mile return hike uphill but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We took it slow, one foot in front of the other. I marveled as I looked back occasionally at the trail behind me that I could climb that. I had the tendency to keep looking at my feet to make sure my footing was solid but I also made sure to stop and soak in the beauty. Photos don’t do it justice. It made the journey exhilarating. When we got to the last half a mile, it was snow and ice that hadn’t melted and we had to put these contraptions over our shoes to not slide off the cliff. That was terrifying.
We made it! It was an adventure of a lifetime! I’m so glad I was able to return and see the canyon from the bottom up. I’m grateful that my body carried me through and that the universe delivered us safely home the next day without any flight mishaps. It’s good to be home.