July 2021 was filled with highs and lows. The highs were during our family vacation in Arizona. We got to experience the red rocks in Sedona and a few different canyons. It was a time I had dedicated to restorative rest – not physically, but mentally and emotionally.
One of the fun things I did was hike the Grand Canyon with my daughter. It was a hot time of year to be in Arizona, and while we should have started our hike at sunrise, we were on vacation, so we failed to take the heat as seriously as we should have.
We the airstream we booked through Airbnb in Flagstaff and headed towards the canyons. The night before I researched the different trailheads to find the right one for us. Based on my research, I picked the Bright Angel Trailhead.
Alisha and I had initially planned to hike down 1.5 miles to the first stop, which would mean a 3-mile round trip – totally doable for both of us.
In the beginning, our excitement was high. There were tons of other hikers, people riding donkeys, and incredible views. Although it was hot, it wasn’t unbearable. By the time we got to the planned turnaround point, we were both feeling really good and didn’t feel we would be challenged enough if we went back, so we decided to keep going. Our next stop would be at about 3 miles. We would stop to replenish our water and take a rest.
What we didn’t realize is that the heat gets worse the further you go down into the canyon, and even the downhill would start to feel uncomfortable.
A few times we considered turning around early, but we could see the rest stop as we continued our hike down the canyon. It seemed close but felt far. Having it in sight though helped us push through and get there. We also needed the much-needed water and rest.
When we finally arrived, there was a family taking refuge and rest under the shelter. The shade was much appreciated.
Behind us in this picture, you can see the well that was there. We filled my hydration pack, and Alisha’s water bottle, wet our heads and faces, soaked my hat, and then rested under the shelter for about 20 minutes.
We were all smiles as we ventured our way back up the canyon. Only 3 miles to the top…
ONLY!!! There was no only here.
By this point is was around noon. The sun was hot.
I had brought some snacks, and we had water, but none of that made this hike any easier.
Our hike up was a lot longer than the trek down…obviously. Every once in a while, we would find a shady spot and sit for a bit. Much like what you can see in this picture to the left (in front of Alisha).
Every once in a while we would see an animal and would stop to take pictures. Up ahead in this picture you’ll be able to see a goat.
By the time we could the trailhead, it motivated us to keep moving, slow but steady. There was a huge sense of relief when we made it to the top. We survived!!! It was iffy there for a while.
There were moments where I hit “the wall”, much like in a marathon. This was only 6 miles, but the effort it took to complete was equal to a marathon. It took a lot of mental energy and determination for us to finish. Emotions and exhaustion were high, but so was our determination to complete this. It would give us much-deserved bragging rights – we hiked the Grand Canyon in July when the heat was high.
Driving back to the airstream in an airconditioned car felt like paradise. Well, I wasn’t driving, my husband was – which made it even better.
I was experiencing the euphoria of this adventure. So much so that it awakened my dream of long-distance events. If I could do what I just did, with training, I could run a marathon again.
And that’s how my endurance running and hiking dreams were awakened.
Just a couple weeks later I came down with a bad case of the COVID Delta Variant. It was horrible. Weakened and in pain, it felt like death was near. I was in bed for about 5 days, but after that, I felt the lingering effects that vicious virus had on my body. Going through this only encouraged me even more. Health became my priority. I would do my best to never allow this kind of compromise to my immune system. While I know it’s contagious, my body should have been able to combat the virus more than it did. I did research on how to best recover from COVID and built myself back up.
It was November when I was at a point where I could begin running again.
I was now ready to begin making my dreams a reality.
Marathon training began… but first would come a half – or maybe 2.
In the next post I’ll continue to share my story to my double half (2 half’s in 1 week)