Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Long Hike

We ventured into the Grand Canyon today. The North Kaibab Trail takes you all the way to the Colorado River if you have the equipment, the expertise and the back country camping permit to make the 14-mile trek each way.

Having none of the above, we went as far as the Supai Bridge, a mere two-mile hike one way. (EDIT: Turns out the landmark is the Supai Tunnel and we hiked to a bridge probably a half-mile below that.) The park literature warns you that the trail is also used by mules and the first thing you notice when you get on the trail is that the mules are well-fed and that their digestive systems are assembly-line efficient.

The second thing you realize is how easy the going is on the descent. Part of me knew that the trip back up would be more taxing but that thought was amply subordinated by the part of me that is dumber than the mule dung I was trying to tiptoe around.

Let's do some math on this. A guy who lifts weights regularly but who is allergic to the treadmill, still fighting the effects of a cold, trodding up the side of a canyon at a more than 8,000 foot elevation.

I never doubted that I'd make it. At one point my wheezing mixed with a twinge in my left arm and I hoped I was having a fatal heart attack. Alas, my heart continued to pump, my feet continued to step and I made it back to tell you the tale.

I don't know if this happens to you but strenuous physical exertion always loosens my mind. I go into a zone where the little mice start turning the treadmills inside my head and thoughts pour out of my brain like the sweat coming out of my body. There are no noises to derail your train of thought. Just the patterns of breathing and the rhythm of my stride.

Same thing happens when riding in a car on long stretches with no stops. Even better if the radio is off, which has been common out here where in some places radio reception is as scarce as stoplights. I can daydream for hours. Or until I have to pee.

We've done a lot of driving, climbing and walking on this trip and I've had a lot of time to think. I wish I could report to you the epiphany I've had. I'd settle for a revelation for how to build my freelance business or advertise the personal documentary venture. But the revelation is probably a climbing out of a canyon metaphor. You put one foot in front of the other and keep doing it until you reach the top.

For reasons Freud could explain better than I, if he weren't dead and all, my mind has often drifted to the high school classmate I stayed with when I went to an alumni swimming meet at my high school last December. If forced to guess I'd say it was because I have no one else to occupy that part of the brain (likely within the "dumber than mule dung" part) that needs to dream about a girl.

We're at the Grand Canyon Lodge tonight so we don't have to drive anywhere tonight to sleep. We went out to one of the cliffs overlooking the canyon and sat -- admiring the view, doing more daydreaming and trying not to let the strong wind gusts blow us to a sudden and violent death. We also don't have to drive tomorrow to get here. We've seen just about all the places on the North Rim that we can reasonably get to -- and some a little farther out than that. We'll look at them in different lighting hang out some more then start heading back to Vegas.

No comments: