Counting down the hours until my barefoot attempt to hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim
Trepidations and Speculations as Friday Approaches
(Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, Friday will find me hiking from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim, sans shoes.)
Why do the twinges in my bones and miseries in my muscles seem to be multiplying as I count down the days to the big hike?
The weather report: is it gloomy or spectacular to imagine a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms on the trail?
Will a deluge knock me to my knees, or drown me in diamond desert blessing?
How to negotiate mule piss mud?
Will our cell phones work when I need to be picked up at the end (wherever that might be)?
Will my wobbly right knee stay stable on the 14-mile, 5,841-foot-vertical downhill to The River?
How will my shinsplints feel for 21 miles of step-step-stepping?
Should I even try to run at all?
I’ve been wind-whipped on the trail before; how prepared am I for shifty Canyon theatrics that want to whirl me into the abyss?
Are the canyon wrens still singing in October?
How happy will my bare feet be? For how long?
Is my mind ready to stay calm when the one thing I did not think to prepare for confronts me, early or late?
To climb the vertical mile out—should I take South Kaibab or Bright Angel? A seven-mile or nine-mile exit ramp?
How much heavy water should I carry; how much should I trust to find when I need it?
Coyote, mule deer, mountain lion: if you spot me on the trail, can you not say more than a few words? You don’t want me to question my sanity, do you?
To pack or not, when every ounce of trail-weight multiplies on the ascent: water purifier, rain poncho, long underwear, instant-heat body-warmer packets? (Don’t you hate hiking cold?) One hiking pole? Two?
Why does this all feel so familiar: something new approaches . . . serious preparation . . . serious self-doubt . . . prayer-practice-postive-self-talk . . . panic?
Have I really learned anything in 53 years?
Have you ever been afraid in a valley of shadow before? Have you ever been abandoned?