I Will Still Rise

‘Cause when, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, you’re out of time
But still, I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don’t be surprised, I will still rise

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson / Ali Payami / Savan Harish Kotecha / Max Martin

It seems like every September, Carolyn has me headed to the Grand Canyon for a march into the depths and then right back out again. This year she has secured rooms at the North Rim and this time we are going Rim to Rim, South to North. The plan is Carolyn and I will drive our one car and leave it at Bright Angel Trailhead and our daughter Jordyn will drive up to the North Rim with our other car and she will be hiking North to South so we will each have a car to get back home.

I’ve known about this hike for awhile so I did some preparation including a 13 mile hike in Sedona and a 10 mile hike in the Payson area but not as much as I have prepared in the past. I’ve been struggling with plantar fasciitis in my left foot and have been doing some self treatments and went in two days before our trip to get the cortisone shot to help alleviate the pain. I’ve bought inserts as well and for the most part I’m just sucking it up and doing it. My podiatrist has suggested that on my trip I should stretch every couple of miles and try to soak my foot in the Colorado River or along the Bright Angel Creek to help with inflammation and pain.

Carolyn and I head to the Canyon after work and some disagreements about when we are starting our trip down the Bright Angel Trail on 9-11 Day. Our disagreements are due to me not quite being packed and ready, thinking that we were headed down at Midnight instead of 10 p.m. My listening skills or should say my lack of comprehension skills tends to get me into trouble but we finally get on the road and have a smooth ride to Flagstaff where we stop at Smashburger for dinner before continuing on to the Canyon. We were quite disappointed in our choice of fast-food but we overcame and arrived at the Park well before our scheduled time so sticking with tradition we stopped at the Yavapai Tavern for some Buffalo Sliders (great) and yes I had to get my traditional Grand Canyon Brewery beer. This time I had the Pilsner and the bartender let me sample the “Hazy Angel” (a play on the Bright Angel) from Lumberyard. That might be my new traditional beer since it does have a Grand Canyon theme.

From the tavern to the Bright Angel Trailhead we go, with our packs, hiking poles, and our headlamps on, we are off and headed into the darkness at 10 pm with 24 miles of trail to travel. It is beautiful as the moon is 96% full and shining brightly. After a mile or so, Carolyn’s headlamp quits so now we have a tougher journey guided by the moon and my headlamp. It is slower going but that’s ok as we stop at all the rest areas for stretching of the calves to help with my foot issues. We encounter one group of four prior to Indian Gardens and another group of four at Indian Gardens both groups headed up to the South Rim. Other then those two brief encounters we are alone with only one headlamp and many mule deer. We take our time and arrive at Phantom Ranch before 4:00 a.m. We have traveled about 10 miles and have descended about 4,500 feet. We take a good long break allowing me to stretch and work the kinks out. (It helps)

Only 14 miles of trail ahead with a climb of 6,000 feet to the North Kaibab Trailhead. On our way to the Cottonwood campgrounds,  we find a spot that is easy to access the creek so I can stick my foot in for 20 minutes or so to help with the inflammation. (It helps) During this seven mile hike to Cottonwood, light has seeped into the Canyon but we are still in the shadows and the views are breathtaking. We have now come across hikers who had camped at Cottonwood and are moving on to the south. We stop at Cottonwood and stretch plus eat all those tasty morsels that Carolyn has packed for us. We have an encounter with a giant black bird who wants to steal our morsels and just hangs out a mere couple of feet from us. Our water is replenished and we are now facing the toughest part of our journey. I am becoming quite weary from the hike and the lack of sleep. Our next scheduled stop is Roaring Springs.

The sun is now in the Canyon and even though the temperature is great the sun beating on me only adds to my weariness. I continue on with Carolyn as my motivator, encourager, and inspiration. I’m discouraged as my aches and pains are wrecking havoc but I still manage one foot at a time. From Roaring Springs, we march on to Supai Tunnel having gained about 1600 feet in those three miles.

Stop, rest, stretch, drink some water, find some shade, yet press on another two miles and another 1400 feet gain. Carolyn is doing her best at keeping me encouraged. I’m beat, I’m literally doubting my ability to climb and climb and climb. To add to the difficulty, we encounter several large groups of tourists on mules. Ugh, they tear up the trail, making for difficult steps and of course you have to get out of their way. Those last two miles were just about the toughest two miles of my life. It takes me over 2.5 hours to finish off those miles. The sun is relentless on our backs as I make my final push to the top. I have Carolyn encouraging me, (I’m thinking why am I doing this) and somehow we rise up and out.

The trailhead is there right in front of us and with great excitement and a final push we arrive some 15 hours after we have started and over 31 hours since we last slept. I am overwhelmed, joyous, elated, proud, excited until I realize we have no way to the Lodge. We are still about two miles out. We discuss our options and decide that we should walk along the road and hitchhike since surely somebody will give us a ride. Multiple cars pass us by as we continue walking. (At least it’s flat) That idea sucked but I suppose I look like some deranged individual all beat down and dirty. After a mile, a worker from the lodge in his work van stops and takes us to the lodge. In case you were wandering, I slapped down a tip for the worker making his stop worthwhile.

We check in and head straight to the bar, grab a couple beers and head out on the lodge patio for a breathtaking view of the canyon. While there, we meet a couple from South Carolina and we proceed to tell with great enthusiasm our canyon stories. By this time, we have a small crowd around us listening and laughing as we are in a state of euphoria brought on by another great accomplish and great craft beers. Fun stuff but being beat up we go to our cabin, shower and crash as we had now been up over 36 hours.

Next thing I am brought out of my sleep by this banging noise on our cabin door and there stands Jordyn. She has arrived and back to sleep we go. I wake up around 4 with a magnificent view of the moon shining through our cabin window. It is spectacular as it sits just above the walls of the canyon to the west.

It becomes breakfast time and after eating, Jordyn has mapped out places for us to drive out on the North Rim with a small hike included. It is beautiful, breathtaking and little crowds as we spend most of the day driving, with walks, and scenery. The drive and walks to Point Imperial and Cape Royale are spectacular. It was a first for me and it left me in awe.

After a fun day, we eat dinner (bison burger for me) and head back to the cabin as Jordyn is getting up and catching a shuttle to the North Kaibab Trailhead to start her rim to rim at 3 a.m. Once again, I catch the moon over in the west and it brings a smile to my face. Nothing quite like a Friday the 13th full moon. Carolyn and I rise up and take a hike out on the rim in the early morning for some spectacular views.

While eating breakfast, Jordyn texts us and lets us know she has finished her North to South trip in less then six hours. All I can say, is wow! That’s crazy fast. After breakfast, we pack up and head on out with a stop in Flagstaff at the Historic Brewing Company and the newest Mother Road tap room. We arrive in Payson for the evening still on an adrenaline high and settle in to watch some Netflix. I suggest “Unbelievable” and wouldn’t you know it, we get caught up in a great series and some six+ hours later we finally crash. Road trips with Carolyn have become a way of life. I’m getting it done so don’t be surprised, I will still rise.

Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt
Oh, oh, oh, oh
You know it, you know it
Still rise
Just fight it, just fight it
Don’t be surprised, I will still rise

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson / Ali Payami / Savan Harish Kotecha / Max Martin

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 drives a shuttle van for the retirement gig. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
This entry was posted in Arizona Hiking Adventures, Craft Breweries, Grand Canyon, Hiking, Marriage, Relationships, Retirement, Road Trip, Spiritual, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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