So I took off in the lead, Sierra and Azure on my heels. We told the boys we'd meet them in the shade.
Have I ever told you about my sense of direction? I mean, my LACK of sense of direction. I knew we were going UP - so right at the beginning when the trail forked, I took the steepest way. We climbed pretty fast and were all of a sudden at a little cabin. The campground hosts must have lived there. But problem: the trail ended. I looked around, then finally looked DOWN. Yes - DOWN to the trail below to see the boys passing us! Ugh.
Well, it was a tough morning for Jace. Those first couple of hours were the only moments I saw Jace with a scowl. He had a rough time waking up, so he and Trevor lagged behind a bit.
I regained the lead and it was a lovely, rigorous hike. That first third - from camp to the first water station a mile and a half up - went by quickly for me. We were in the shade most of the time, hiked hard and rested well.
The switchbacks were a killer, and the incline was steep. But it was not too hot, so I can pretty much say that I enjoyed it. Or rather, I didn't hate it.
By the time we decided to get going for the 2nd third, Jace was awake so those two were our leaders. That second leg got hard.
Yes, we were climbing in elevation so the temperature was more endurable, but it was steep and the sun was out. We had to step aside a couple of times to let the mules carrying those lucky guests pass. I have to admit that the thought crossed my mind that I could just give a little shove to the last rider and hop on the donkey in his place ... but it was just a fleeting thought :)
My pace was slowing dramatically as the sun got hotter. It just zaps my strength! Azure hung back with me ... we didn't talk much, not even to complain. Cherie Call's song about moving mountains played through my mind: "I learned how to move a mountain; it was harder than I dreamed it could be; But I set one foot down past the other - Till the mountain was under me" It's a really good song with a really good lesson. But on that second leg, the lesson for me was all physical: set one foot down past the other.
About half-way to the next water station, when I was heating up so much I was getting concerned, there were some natural refrigerators. Where the switchback would make a sharp turn a cool breeze would whoosh.
There were two or 3 of those along the trail and without them it would have been horrible for me. Those cooled me off just enough to "make it". Eventually I could see the water station. I heard the family. But wait! They had moved on! I couldn't believe they'd left me! I hollered up past a couple of switchbacks, "Brad! Why did you leave?! I'm not even there yet!"
I couldn't make out his response. Azure pushed ahead of me and found the reason - what I saw was just the hill to the restroom - the water was a little higher.
When I got on the switchback that the water was on and I could see it, I felt like that guy in the old movie where he has to decide to prime the pump or to just drink from it. You know how he kind of stumbles towards it - desperate for water? That's how I felt. I made it to the water, turned on the faucet and stuck my head under it. My neck, then my back - I all but crawled under it. I heard Trevor say, "See Jace? Grandma's doing what I was trying to get you to do - and she actually likes it!" Just above the water was a little pavilion. We must have sat there for 15 or 20 minutes cooling off, eating, refreshing ourselves. Well, everyone else already seemed refreshed. But they were kind and sat with me. Before we left Sierra gave up her t-shirt for me. Girls dress in so many layers these days that that only meant she had 2 layers on now instead of 3.
Trevor soaked the shirt and had me wear it like a turban. It was heavenly. I didn't care if I looked hideous - I felt cool (literally).
Psychologically, knowing we'd completed 2/3 of that day's hike - that was good for me.
We'd ask Brad what time it was to see how we were doing, but either he read his watch wrong or his watch was wacky. I remember at one point he told us it was 9:30. An hour or so later he said it was 9:15. Maybe he was playing with my mind - I'm not sure ... but I stopped even caring how long the hike was taking and was just glad that higher elevation meant cooler temperatures. (btw we made it to the top in just over 4 hours! an hour and a half less than we expected!) But you know, when you're exerting yourself you don't always notice that it's cooler. In retrospect though, if it would have stayed the temp it was early when we started out, making that steep climb would have been too much for my hot body. (I mean that literally!)
It was also good for our psyches when we saw the people on day-hikes increase. Just tourists who decided to get a closer look and say they hiked down the Grand Canyon - we knew who they were ... the ones wearing sweatshirts and cute shoes, carrying huge cameras and purses. There started to be so many of them that we knew we were getting close. I wanted to push one lady right off the edge (not really) when she heard one of us say "we must be getting close" and her unsolicited reply was "not really .. we've been hiking a long time - you've probably got another 45 minutes". I really couldn't believe that! My optimistic mind couldn't accept it.
So the next group of people we saw, I asked .. how long have you been hiking? The kind old lady replied, "Oh sweetie, you're so close - you've probably only got about 10 minutes to go." I wanted to kiss her.
When Azure and Sierra caught site of buildings we whooped for joy! Taking those last few steps I felt like a triumphant olympic racer. Arms held high, lengthened by my trekking poles, I was a bit surprised when the busloads of tourists didn't applaud for me.
But it's ok - the applause in my mind was satisfaction enough.
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