The Grand Canyon — Part 4
Now I was on the trail, 2 miles away from my destination, thinking about help. Thirty minutes after I laid down, I gathered my backpack, replenished more water, drenched myself again in more water.
It was around 12:45, and I still hadn’t moved much. I knew, I wasn’t going to make my worst case estimate of 1:30pm, let alone my original estimate of 12:30pm. But it didn’t matter. I got up and started walking. The sun was unforgiving and shade was no where to be seen. They were the longest, never ending 2 miles. Everybody seemed to be passing me now. My poles that were helping me propel forward before, now were the only thing supporting me. The smile on my face and the frequent looks back to see the view, had now turned into a sulk and a frequent look upwards to see how far I was from the trailhead — the trailhead which was nowhere to be seen.
I had to sit down every 5–10 minutes, and drink some water but I kept on walking. I had no other option. Soon enough, well dressed people in their fancy shoes, clean clothes, beautiful smells and plastic water bottles started to appear on the trail. It sucked to see them smiling and skipping, while I gasped with every single step but that meant one good thing — the end was near. I kept trudging along. At one point, a Spanish speaking couple saw me and the lady said to her husband — “Se ve muy cansado” to which I smiled and whispered “un poco”. It brought a smile to their faces and to mine.
Finally, I saw a glimpse of the trailhead, it was packed with tourists, those who came from their air-conditioned cars, eating ice-creams, drinking their cocktails and buying souvenirs. It was 2:30pm, 2 hours after my originally anticipated time, after 5 hours of uphill in 100+ degrees, over 8 hours of hiking more than 16 miles and more than 9000 feet of elevation change.
As I got to the Bright Angel Trailhead, there was a certain sense of accomplishment, but fatigue vastly overpowered it.
Having done something so grand, so empowering, gone down with the mental up, and up with the mental down, this was it, it was over. As I walked away from the Grand Canyon, amidst buses full of tourists and their martinis, I asked myself who was I to judge? After all, I couldn’t have been there without the generosity of strangers. I called my friend Maria up and told her how downright tired I was and how I wouldn’t be able to make it to Phoenix that evening. She, like a good friend, totally understood.
With that, I took one final look at the canyon and thought how one can not survive without the help of their society, their community, and how one can not become truly comfortable receiving help unless they are always comfortable giving help. And, my only hope is that you give unconditionally, so, some day, you can allow yourself to receive.
Give, so you can receive.
*Thanks to Sofia Puorro, Imran Rashid, Maria Eller and Madeline Weeks for reviewing drafts of this post.