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Counting down the hours until my barefoot attempt to hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

October 10, 2012

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?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2012 1:54 am

    So many questions, so much great preparation going on. I think it is very normal and wise to feel self-doubt right before a huge new challenge. I will be thinking of you Friday, from all the way across the world in Australia, and wishing you great learning from this amazing experience. We’ve all been in that same valley of shadow – you are the light to get yourself through.

    • October 14, 2012 8:38 pm

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, Patricia. It was fun to think of you rooting for me from so far away! It was indeed an amazing experience–but it will probably take me some time to process it more completely to see what all I learned. In the meantime, there’s always time for a “knee-jerk” reactionary blog post . . . which is what I did today, in between massaging my sore calf muscles and hobbling around the house doing laundry and “vacation clean-up.”

      • Patricia A Bowmer permalink
        October 15, 2012 1:45 am

        Congratulations on getting it done! Yep, that laundry does pile up. Good thing you don’t have to wash socks anymore! Look forward to reading the blog…

  2. Linda permalink
    October 11, 2012 10:32 pm

    Hi Thea, I met you at a Santiago Oaks hike last year, and enjoy your blog.
    I hope the weather is better for you at the Grand Canyon. I went to the GC a few weeks ago and it was hot then. Good luck. I bet it will be gorgeous. I’d stick to the upward trail where the donkeys go. At least they could help you if you have knee problems! 😉 I didn’t do much hiking this time. But I sure do appreciate what you are about to embark on. I wish I could have!

    Yes, I have had strange feelings of wildlife nearby. It’s an effective alert for the senses. I met a gal hiking out of Whiting Ranch and asked if she went to the top today, and she said the same, “no, I have hiked this for years and for the first time I thought I was being followed by an animal.” I smiled and said, yes, I have had that feeling before and have hiked out.

    Best of luck on your great adventures, and I look forward to your blog with envy, upon returning!

    • October 14, 2012 8:47 pm

      Thanks Linda–I was really fortunate it was not hot at all this weekend. I enjoyed looking at some of your wonderful images this evening–how you manage to “capture” birds in flight is amazing! Beautiful work!

      Happy Trails 🙂 Thea

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