Story, Travel

Tricia Hikes the Grand Canyon in TOMS

Arizona – March 2013

When I moved to Texas, I was determined to use my new location as a base to explore previously unvisited states.  Two years ago I found a Groupon getaway deal for a cute hotel in Sedona, Arizona.  I found a willing friend, and the weekend before our spring break, we drove fifteen hours across the Southwest.  It seems ludicrous now, but at the time, I had no intention of visiting the Grand Canyon during this weekend trip.  But Sedona was snowed in, and we found a brochure for a two-hour train ride to the southern rim, and boom.  There was the canyon.

DSC_0223You would think, travel-lover that I am, that I would know by now that it is always better to see something in person.  However, before I’d seen the Grand Canyon with my own eyes, I assumed all the postcards and TV shows were enough.  What an idiot.  The Grand Canyon is well named; the landscape feels epic and has a sense of…muchness that is lacking in northern Texas.  Bridgett and I gawked and pointed and took pictures, and nothing was able to adequately convey the majesty that lay before us.

The tour we’d chosen allowed for five hours at the canyon.  We decided to hike down for an hour, but as I mentioned earlier, it had snowed in Arizona.  Now, I’m fond of my laid-back attitude, but it has a tendency to get me into trouble.  “Arizona?” I thought while packing.  “Arizona is one of the hottest states.”  Stupidly naive, I packed one pair of socks, TOMS, and no jacket.  When we arrived to a snow-covered wonderland, I was panic-stricken.  Thankfully my traveling companion had over-packed.  Bridgett shared some extra socks and the second of two coats that she had brought.  Unfortunately, we do not have the same size feet, so the TOMS stayed.

Let me suggest that if you hike the Grand Canyon, you ought to wear hiking boots.  Definitely not old TOMS with the tread worn way down.  And definitely not after perusing gift shop books about people dying at the canyon.

DSC_0268Down we went anyway, with Bridgett in front so she might block my inevitable tumble into oblivion.  Every ten seconds or so I would slip and gasp, at which point she would ask, “You okay?” over her shoulder and I would mumble an affirmative.  I’m sure this got incredibly old to everyone hiking in the near vicinity.

After an hour of switchbacks and ice patches, we paused.  “This isn’t so bad!” I thought.  I had friends who had hiked all the way down a few years before, and I scoffed at their harrowing stories.  Then I looked up and realized that an hour’s hike had barely taken us down into the canyon at all.  Bridgett and I agreed to go a little further before turning around and heading back up.  After documenting our progress, we began the climb back up.  “I take it back!” I mentally wheezed.  Every ten steps was a nightmare, and we stopped to catch our breath at least once a minute.  DSC_0277

“We’re pathetic!” I cried, slipping on snow and catching myself.  “I’m just going to curl up and die here.”

“You’ll block the path.  And there are hamburgers at the top.”

“When you’re lost and alone,” I sang, “or you’re sinking like a stone–carry o-o-o-n.  Carry on, Bridgett!”  I giggled, wondering if this was some kind of athletically-induced madness.

We made it back to the top, of course.  It took twice as long coming up and it had going down, but once we arrived we ate the most delicious hamburgers invented by man.  When we got back to our hotel, I peeled off my soaked-through TOMS and two layers of socks.  I frowned at the mess, and vowed to invest in hiking boots.

It’s nearly two years later, and no, I still haven’t.

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