Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
Make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Bruce Springsteen “The Rising”
My dreams are vivid as I lay on the picnic table in the darkness with the stars so bright and brilliant. I hear voices but are they in my head? I awake, I see a line forming for the coveted breakfast. The smells of bacon arouse my senses. Carolyn and I speak of what has been happening over the two hours. She tells me I have been snoring and she has been out from under the trees stargazing. It is 4:45 with breakfast served at 5:00. I am rising up.
Early in the morning,
I will celebrate the light.
When I stumble in the darkness,
I will call your name by night
God of Wonders written by Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong
They open the doors and we are sat at our table with heaping bowls of scrambled eggs, platters of bacon, platters of pancakes, bowls of peaches, orange juice, water, and the go juice known as coffee. Best 36 bucks I’ve ever spent on two breakfasts. I’m feeling better, my head is clearing, and I dig in. I pile the eggs on, bacon, pancakes, water, coffee, and I skip the peaches. It is scrumptious! I eat the equivalent of at least four eggs, three pancakes, 10 pieces of the thickest crispiest bacon that rates up there with the best I have ever ate. I started with three pieces but I couldn’t help myself. I wash it all down with three glasses of water, a glass of OJ and four cups of coffee with cream. For dessert a 7.5 mg tab of Meloxicam that serves as my anti-inflammatory of choice is washed down. Oh BTW, Carolyn ate in moderation but her loss was my gain.
It all ends too soon. We are ready to load up and head out after the mandatory lavatory stop. One has to take advantage of running water and flushable toilets. So the light is creeping into the canyon as we start our walk out. I’m a bit giddy, feeling absolutely 100% better then I was just three hours ago. My calves ache, my hip aches but I’m good to go. Carolyn is concerned with my well-being and I tell her that I am fired up and ready to climb those 5000 feet. So I suggest that we go up the South Kaibab Trail since it is two miles or so shorter and we can catch a bus at the top to take us back to our car. There is no water on the trail but I have drank a ton and have well over 2 liters to make the climb. Carolyn says no, we are going up the Bright Angel Trail because it is not as steep, has water, and it is the best way to go. We vote again and Carolyn wins in a one to one tie. So the Bright Angel it is. She tells me to take the lead since I am the slower one but believes that we can do this in six hours. I’m down with that. We walk through the campground that has now awaken with activity everywhere. No longer silent, it’s time for the Rising.
We make it to the bridge and have to stop and take a picture, after all we can see now. No headlamps needed. The one thing I despise about going up the Bright Angel Trail is the first part is up and down along the Colorado River but you end up at river level to really start your climb. After all that coffee and water, we are ready for a restroom break at the rest house. After 5 or so minutes, we carry on, walking no longer by ourselves as others are on the trail. We see all sorts of outfits from trendy fitness wear to a group of women in long dresses with bonnets on their heads and hiking boots.
I am feeling good, up and up we go reaching Indian Garden and I’m feeling great. My spirits are good, I have no weird pains and I’m just having the time of my life yakking away with Carolyn. Poor Carolyn is suffering from my feeling good. The food is settling and I’m creating energy (ok gas) but it don’t matter because we are in the great outdoors and one can rip em with no consequences. There is this constant, “Tim, stop it” or “Tim, knock it off.” I just smile like a little kid and keep movin’ on.
The day is beautiful, clear skies, nice temperatures, and breathtaking scenery. I am awestruck. That great old church hymn “How Great Thou Art” echoes through my head.
During the journey up the crowds are coming down. Few have read the rules of the trails. Some groups walk two abreast taking up the trail and I’m mumbling, irritated after all I am a man on a mission I am not stopping, moving aside, I’m getting to the top. Carolyn helps calm me down as she reminds me that this is no place for a “trail rage” incident. We stop for short breaks at the 3 mile rest stop and the 1.5 mile rest stop. I remind Carolyn that I am sort of like the Tortoise and the Hare as fast hikers pass us. The Tortoise doesn’t always win but it always finishes. Yes those that passed us up are stopped multiple times but we plug on and we actually finish ahead as we have risen in 4 hours and 50 minutes.
In just over 12 hours, we have hiked down, napped, and eaten one of the best breakfasts, and hiked back up. We have connected, reconnected, forgot the day to day grind and have truly lived in the moment. It is an unbelievable feeling as the adrenaline continues to to rush through my veins. I am ok, elated, and in great spirits. I have accomplished the journey with my wife, a bucket list item completed.
Looking down upon our trip I reflect on how wondrous the canyon really is. I am awed by what we accomplished, I am in awe of how unbelievably vast and beautiful the world can be. God of Wonders is in my brain so here is some old school Third Day for you.
This sojourn calls for a celebration. The journey moves on.