38: The Grand Canyon, A Breath of Fresh Air

I always knew the Grand Canyon would be included in my journey but for some reason I assumed I’d be going alone. Maybe it’s my independent, only child lifestyle. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m far better at staying consistently busy and functioning on minimal sleep than most people I know. Either way, I’m glad I was wrong.

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After planning, then rescheduling, then planning again I finally decided to go to the Grand Canyon on a particular day regardless of whether someone could come. To my surprise I recruited a buddy. One of my stellar flight attendant friends, Kaitlin, agreed to join me on a day hike and mini road trip to the grandest of canyons.

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With her in Dallas and me in Chicago, we both caught early morning flights to Phoenix where we met up to catch the connecting flight to Flagstaff. From there we changed into our hiking gear, rented a car, and drove the hour and twenty mins to the canyon. We did all this while managing to get there by 1230p. Yeesh!

Both of us packed lunches and stashed hiking beers in my backpack before entering the grounds. Like usual, I didn’t have much of a plan, other than to hike and simply have a relaxing day off while enjoying the company and scenery around me. Luckily, that’s exactly what we did.

There are many ways that I could describe the Grand Canyon, like how the ripples of purple and orange layered deep beyond my eye sight. How narrow roads stretched hundreds of miles east and north while still managing to fit beneath my thumb. How there was no way to tell exactly how large or far what you were looking at was because its depth proved to be unmeasurable. The formation of the rocks, the colors of the stone, and the waves etched within the dirt were absolutely stunning. To live during the same time amongst something so visually beautiful at an age that I’m able to venture to and appreciate is something I’ll never get used to. So although I can describe the vivid images my mind remembers, it’s much easier to show you the plethora of pictures that tell the story far better than I.

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We walked through the small village along the trail on the south rim for a couple miles until we arrived at the main trail head that lead not around the upper perimeter, but down into the belly of the canyon itself.

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Unlike most trails I’ve hiked, this one started at the top making the beginning seem easy as pie. After about a mile down the steep, winding path we quickly realized turning around now would be for the best seeing as how going up would be twice as difficult. Turns out the Bright Angel Trail was a total of eight miles down therefore finishing the entire trail would likely take a full day considering the elevation and lack of water along the way. So glad we opted out.

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On the way back we caught up over our cracked beers and sat on what felt like the edge of the world during a day of perfect weather.

Fun fact: Turns out it was national beer day and we ended up drinking Grand Canyon beers in a national park on national beer day. Talk about having hella good timing.

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Now on the way back instead of driving back to Flagstaff and catching two flights to get home, we drove the nearly four hours through Arizona to Phoenix so we could get a cheap hotel, shower, decompose, and catch a direct flight back in the morning.

Often times when I travel, and much like my normal day to day life, I’m alone. Sure, everyone loves their alone time, myself included but no one should ever get used to it. Unfortunately at the tender age of 25, I have. I’m used to counting on no one but myself and my parents, and even then I don’t depend on them. This makes traveling very spontaneous but also abnormally isolated.

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I often assume certain experiences and monuments in my life will be something I just won’t share with another person and that’s okay. Not everything is meant to be shared but I’d be lying if I said I’d rather recall the stories on my own than share these amazing experiences with another being. Fortunately, this wasn’t one of those stories.

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I thought everyone would bail, or life would get in the way and I’d be road tripping, hiking, and taking in these absolutely gorgeous sights with no one to reflect back with me but myself. I’ve never been happier to be completely inaccurate. It’s little moments like these that make me appreciate the friends and amazing people that enjoy the spontaneity of life. That are there when you need them the most or even better when you don’t know that you need them at all. The Grand Canyon completely cleared my head and allowed me to focus on what truly mattered; my dreams, my state of mind, and the people in my life that although aren’t consistently present, are still very much there. My day to day might not be as mind cleansing, but slowly culturing myself is far more freeing and beautiful than I ever imagined it’d be.

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