I don’t have internet and am writing these entries on Word. I’m fearful of making my posts too big and have broken them up. It’s Sunday, June 12, 2011 and I am sitting in a cabin on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and I have to say, this path is pretty damned fantastic too.
Once again we had an early start, considering time, temp and sun position. We hit the Flagstaff version of Whole Foods and then hit the road. The road was uninteresting in comparison to the road leading to Flagstaff. Last night we were so shocked and welcomed by the slowly thickening wooded areas as we climbed out of the desert and up to a new altitude. Perhaps I’m wrong and it was just the crappy drivers that detracted from what may have been a perfectly lovely stretch. Perhaps it was the anticipation of the canyon to come that made the road uninteresting.
It occurred to me while eating an early lunch that this experience reminded me of Disney World. I still vividly remember the first time I stood in front of the Epcot globe. Most likely I was imitating a Disney world ad I’d seen, but I was beside myself. When we drove into the park and Ivo gasped at a quick glimpse of the canyon through the trees, I shut my eyes tight. I didn’t want to see it in dribs and drabs. I wanted the whole damned canyon! Well, that’s not true, I didn’t want to see it from a chopper or a plane or high up, but I did want a big, full in the face all at once viewing. Ivo, ever considerate, offered to lead me to the canyon with my eyes closed. Damn that fella is cute! I thanked him, shut my eyes and held his arm.
“You can look now” – BAM! I guffawed! I laughed a big barking laugh, like someone had knocked the wind out of me. It looked unreal; truly fake! It was as if Ivo had pulled down a picture of the canyon before my face. But when I looked left and right and saw the dimensions, the shapes and the depths, I was truly blown away.
We hiked 5 miles of the south rim today, to blow our minds in big doses and get used to the altitude. Tonight we’ll have an early dinner and watch the sunset before heading to bed. We’re taking a sunrise hike tomorrow in the morning, before heading out onto that mother road yet again.
This morning the sky was already glowing, when we emerged from our cabin before 5am. With coffee and and yogurt and banana and Gatorade and granola bars respectively, we sat on a stone wall to watch the sun rise and chase new shadows around the rocky formations. Once we couldn’t stand the chat next to us, between two Australian women about wedding dresses, we went down the path to find better view. Last night, we’d waxed pretentious about the early morning hikers we might encounter on the Bright Angel Train at sunrise. Before we’d even finished our breakfast, large groups of loud people had passed us by with massive rucksacks.
We got ourselves ready and headed down the steep trail that snakes down from this part of the south rim. We encountered a few lone quiet hikers, one of whom was backed against a wall and said, apologetically “there’s a deer down there”. The tone was a result of her shame that she had scared the deer off the trail. By the time she hiked on and we caught our own glimpse, the deer seemed quite please with herself, poised as she was to enjoy a good nibble from a big green bush.
Many people who know me will be unsurprised that I was moved to tears twice, while hiking down. (That’s right, I’m a crier. Sometimes I can postpone a joy cry, like when I was asked to be god-mother of my niece Anouk, but more often I choke up and warn people around me “they’re happy tears.) These were those unique tears that I sometimes get in the mountains. They’re similar to my happy tears in the way that my heart just feels so full it needs a release. The whole way down, each curve each view each sound and sight made me so grateful and so happy.
Ivo and I are big-mouths. We’ll talk for days if allowed. We can’t stop chatting - until we do. When hiking, it’s not the breath-taking views that shut us up. We’ll talk with dry mouths and lungs that have been evacuated from astonishment. But in all of our languages, in our mental dictionaries, in our abundance of words, we are initially struck dumb and then struck stupid. We gasp, pause and then one of us will inevitably say “Fuck” or “Shit” or “Woof”.
Aside from being rated R for strong language, our hike was incredible, from start to finish (there again! “Incredible.” Words feel so useless in describing some of the beauty we’ve encountered on this trip.)
We met a honeymooning couple from Holland yesterday. Afterwards we joked about our honeymoon in Croatia, our lessons in kayaking, our quitting smoking and Ivo’s body rejecting my birthday dinner. Our trip is not a honeymoon or a babymoon, but it is an incredible checking-in for our relationship, and I’m grateful for that too.
I don’t know where we’re headed today. I’m not too bothered about it. I’m glad that our crazy-early hike has given us a chance to explore the other part of the south rim before we depart. There is desert to come, a jump in the Colorado in Needles and at the end, “home”. This trip is flippin’ nuts.