Counting Stars: Everything That Kills Me Makes Me Feel Alive

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah we’ll be counting stars
I see this life, like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
And in my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye’ shall find
I feel the love and I feel it burn
Down this river, every turn
Hope is our four-letter word
Make that money, watch it burn
One Republic
Those lyrics speak to me frequently and are on on my mind as once again, Carolyn and I hit the road for our annual hike into the Grand Canyon for another life time adventure. It was our overnight trip for breakfast at Phantom Ranch.
Thursday evening of Labor Day weekend, and I’m way ahead of schedule compared to previous years as I packed and was ready to go as soon as work was done. That’s just not me but I’m learning. We arrive in Flagstaff and once again it is rainy but we decide on Smashburger. You know when you have the BOGO offer, who could possibly refuse. Plus it is sort of traditional now that we stop there, then grab a Dunkin Donuts coffee and head out.
But a detour is called for. We go to Williams first so can see up close and in person the newly located Grand Canyon Brewing Company. It is really something else. Now I’m not into grabbing a beer, yet, since we still have a long journey in front of us but the bartender insists that I sample anything I want so I will know what I want when we return. Great customer service. Let me tell you, they have a seasonal brown ale bourbon barrel based that it is fabulous. The coffee bean stout is pretty tasty as well. But small samples and off we go to the Canyon.
We arrive at the Canyon with plenty of time to spare and it is cold and rainy. The ground is wet, we are shivering but we are ready to head down into another spiritual sojourn in the depths of the canyon. Our start is earlier but it is wet and I’m just a bit nervous. The only light is our headlamps and I’m always concerned about slipping or turning an ankle you know old age related worries. (Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.) The sky miraculously clears and with no moon all we see are stars.
Not a soul on the trail but us. I’m anxious but I continue my trek. We see deer peering at us from the brush at Indian Gardens but not a person to be seen. As we were heading into Indian Gardens, Carolyn suddenly stops and there is an owl sitting beside the trail not more then 10 yards in front of us, watching us. We stand and watch for about 10 minutes and it finally flies off. In the native world, owls are not necessarily a positive vibe. My anxiety levels increase knowing that we have now had some supernatural encounter with this mystical bird.
What a lonely journey down, down, down into the deep dark depths of the Canyon. It is so dark that you can only really hear the Colorado River but seeing is out of the question. We finally encounter humans as we head to the bridge. Crossing the bridge in the darkness is beyond eery. We arrive at Phantom Ranch around 3:50 a.m. so we can rest on the benches by the creek until it is time for breakfast. They alway ring a bell to let you know that it is time to eat and after all we have paid good money for these breakfast reservations and I look up and see nothing but stars. It is beautiful and I dose off with visions of bacon running through my brain.
I wake with a start, and I look at my watch. It is 5:10 and I wake Carolyn and let her know we are late. No bells have rung and we walk in and everybody is eating away and there are our two seats waiting for us. I am so happy that I woke or we might have missed out on those fabulous pancakes, thick crispy bacon strips, scrambled eggs, and coffee that is just great. We indulge ourselves and enjoy conversing with those around us. Clearly they think we are nutty to hike overnight for breakfast only to turn back around and head up. Great group of people who had mostly hiked down the previous day, spent the night, and were now trying to figure out if they could get out of the Canyon. Duct tape was being used on various blisters and it was a sight for sore eyes and worth the trip.
I have decided that this year I am not going to overeat. So only five pancakes and nine pieces of bacon. And this year I did not line my pockets with leftover bacon strips. I have matured. (meaning my wife said no Tim) After all last year I ate 10 pieces and took a few more for the trip back up.
It is 6:00 and time to roll on out of here. The sun is coming up and we have got a long way to go. Carolyn reminds me that we will have some craft beer waiting up on top if we make it. So off we go, and we are doing ok. We pass multiple hikers and yet we get passed by hikers. By the time we reach Indian Gardens, the score card reads 8 passed and 10 passed us. We are losing but joy is straight ahead, all those who passed us minus three are laid out by the water faucet. We smoke ’em and never see them again as we continue our assault on the craziest climb. We pass and we pass hiker after hiker and our score card reaches 30 kills to 5 who killed us. We clear the top in 4:58. Not bad for an old man with his athletic wife.
I’ve made it! We get to the car and Carolyn pops the trunk and by golly Fat Tire collaboration beers are waiting on ice. We have only been up for about 30 consecutive hours and 9.5 hours of hiking 20 miles with elevation drops of 4,400 feet and another 4,400 hundred feet elevation increase. I’m beyond tired but feeling a high that needs no artificial or natural supplements.
We are living the dream and continue on for our traditional Grand Canyon brew while sitting on the porch at the world famous El Tovar hotel. The lyrics to one of my favorite songs are rolling through my head:
Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
On just doing what we’re told
I-I-I-I feel something so right
Doing the wrong thing
I-I-I-I feel something so wrong
Doing the right thing
I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
I’m trying my best to move beyond counting dollars and instead counting stars. After all Old, but I’m not that old knowing that everything that kills me makes me feel alive and I’m alive.
We get to spend several nights at the Maswik Lodge and we even drive to Williams on Saturday for happy hour at the Grand Canyon Brewing Company. Can you imagine two dollar drafts on a Saturday from 2 to 6? Incredible.
Our time at the Canyon is always special. But I’m thinking just maybe, Carolyn can take me on a dinner date at Phantom and then hike after dinner to the top. Hiking down at night was a bit rougher on me this year and I’m thinking it might be safer for ankles hiking up at night. Just a thought.
Jordyn put together the following video with some of our photos. We didn’t take many this time but (I am praying hard, say no more counting dollars, we’ll be counting stars.) Just saying!

About timfruth

Longtime public educator who recently retired from public education. Messed around in politics as a town councilor and vice mayor. I am a father and a husband who currently works in a new active career in Human Resources. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
This entry was posted in Grand Canyon, Hiking, Relationships, Road Trip, Spiritual, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Counting Stars: Everything That Kills Me Makes Me Feel Alive

  1. Albert Leos says:

    What a awesome time. Your blessed my brother.

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