Sunday, April 23, 2006

"The best thing about hiking...."

" that you only think about hiking."--My buddy, Cort

I'm back.

I'm sore.

I'm amazed at the chance I had to have an experience of a lifetime.

I'm jealous of my 4 buddies that are still there and called me at 7:32pm to tell me they were on top of a mountain in Sedona.

I'm really not feeling like going to work tomorrow. :)

Yep, I'm back. Words and pictures really don't do my week justice. I had the opportunity to get away from my cell phone, PDA, school, email, and blogland, to really just think. Spend time with my family and friends. And get to see something that not many have seen--the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Monday and Tuesday I went to Mesa to visit Aunt Eleaner and Linda. Super fun. Linda took us to the Diamondbacks game--I will post my dog as proof. :) Luis Gonzales hit his 500th double and became the 21st person in history to hit over 300 HR and 500 doubles. Way cool. I even got to boo Barry.

Then Wednesday my buddies flew in. We headed up to Sedona and did some awesome hiking. I could move there in a heartbeat if it had some water nearby. We headed to Flagstaff, stopped at a local brewery, and then got some shut-eye.

Got up early and headed to the Canyon Thursday. We had a few *minor* bumps in the road. Okay, more like Level 5 Sara Freak-outs as we locked our keys in the IGNITION in the rental car, and to make a long story short, had to leave them THERE for three days. I was a nervous WRECK that our car would be stolen, along with all our wallets and stuff in the trunk. WHEW--it wasn't. THANK GOODNESS.

Headed down the South Kaibab Trail at 1:00pm--MUCH later than we wanted to due to the car fiasco. As a result, it was HOT. REALLY HOT.

Then Matt sprained his ankle. He was white as a sheet. I thought we'd need to turn around and call the whole thing off. But, since he does it often and has played soccer games on it this way, he said we should keep going. He wins the Trooper of the Year Award for that one.

The views were unbelievable. Every way you looked it was amazing. We couldn't believe we were really doing it.

And then, the Colorado River. We camped at Bright Angel Campgrounds and were pleasantly surprised there was flushing toilets and running water! The guys went to Phantom Ranch to have a BEER--no kidding! A cold beer at a little bar at the bottom of the Canyon. Who knew? Sarah and I stayed at our site to look at the stars. It was UNBELIEVABLE. I wish I could have taken a picture of the stars. I have never seen so many stars in my entire life.

The next two days we hiked to Indian Garden Campground--pretty, but definitely not as posh as Bright Angel (no flush toilets this time! ). The campsites were a bit close together. Um, so close that we actually heard the "Farters" next to us. No, seriously. These 5 guys (2 adults, 3 kids) literally woke us up all night by FARTING LOUDLY.

We had dinner, we talked, we relaxed. We did, as Cort said, "Nothing but think about hiking." It was awesome. We did a little 3 mile hike to Plateau Point for yet another amazing view.

Then we had the last day--a 3,000 foot climb at high elevation to the top over 4.6 miles. I knew it would be hard. I dreaded it the entire trip, actually. My pack was pretty heavy and I remembered how the elevation made my heart freak out the last time Matt and I did 2.5 miles down and back when we got engaged in December 2003. And THAT was without a 30 pound pack on my back.

So we started climbing. We stopped a bit as my heart was RACING and my buddies started to tire. We'd go about 10 minutes and then pause for 1-2 just to catch our breath and have our heart rates come down a bit. But we made good time--faster than we thought! I hurt so much with every step, but the views made up for the pain.

Then, Ed said--"Look! It's the top!" And we were almost there.

The best way I can describe how I felt then is that it was like the last half mile of a marathon. You hurt so much. You are so tired. You wonder why you did this to yourself.

And then you hear the finish line. You see the crowd.

And you start hauling.

You sprint.

No matter how much you hurt you remember why you did this and you run across that finish line.

We got to the top and heard cheers of people there--some had done it themselves. Some were just tourists and were really shocked that nutcases actually did this.

A very different finish line from what I'm used to, but amazing and life-changing in its own way.

I really thought a lot when I was down there about IM, too. How the next few months would be the most physically and emotionally demanding of my life. How lucky I am that they are--that I haven't had other things that have been more physically and emotionally demanding, like the death of a loved one, or a debilitating accident.

When you are in one of the most beautiful places on earth, it's hard not to feel humbled and amazed. At the world. At yourself. And the experience you are having.

This was the best thing I could have done at this point in my IM Journey. I really feel like I have a respect and appreciation for myself and my body--what I've just done to it (as I still am so sore I can barely go down stairs) and what I'm about to do to it in the next 4 months.

4 months.

I know this journey's gonna be uphill. And it's gonna hurt.

It's gonna hurt really bad sometimes.

But I know I can do this. I'm ready to do this.

So one more rest day tomorrow, to recover, get caught up, and get back to the swing of things.

And then my uphill hike begins again...with a finish line like no other.


E-Speed said...

The pictures are awesome and the trip sounds amazing!

The guys in SERC run the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim in one day, like 50 miles. They want me to come with in May. I don't think I am quite ready for that.

Glad you had such an amazing time!

bunnygirl said...

Sounds like an awesome trip! I'd love to do that sometime! Thanks for the story and pics!

TryAthlete said...

Glad you had a good trip. Good luck for the term ahead!

Scott said...

Beautiful pictures. I would really love to see the Grand Canyon someday. I especially loved the last few paragraphs of this post. I look forward to reading your posts as you travel down the IM road over the next 4 months.

BuckeyeRunner said...

Welcome home! Glad that you had a safe and enjoyable trip. The pictures are great. Not a cloud in the sky.

Curly Su said...

wow, sara. sounds perfect. glad you're back!

Spence said...

SARA!! so glad you're back. It sounds like you guys had an amazing time. I'm always surprised when I go hiking after spending so much time biking and running...somehow I expect I'll be stronger but really nothing prepares you for hiking...except hiking. NICE JOB!!! I've missed all your positives posts and comments...

DaisyDuc said...

Good to hear you had a fantastic trip. It sounds as though it was an amazing journey up the mountain! I need to go someday!

I can only imagine how you must have felt about having those keys in the car...oh the poor person responsible for that maneuver!

Rae said...

It sounds like you had so much fun! Next time I go to the Grand C I'm definately spending more time and hiking. Welcome home!

Pixie said...

Hey Sara, this is my first time commenting here, but I love your blog. I am doing my first triathlon this fall and have really enjoyed reading about your journey to IM. How exciting!

great pictures and what an adventure! My husband and I go white water rafting every year so I know the rush! What a workout you got, doing all of that hiking. :)

Just thought I would say hi! Keep up the good work!