Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Best Choice I've Ever Made

The next morning when Tobi and I woke up in our 19 dollar Walmart tent beside the Colorado river while surrounded by the cliffs of the Grand Canyon it's safe to say we felt slightly untouchable. This rush of over confidence led us to wake up early and head to secret waterfalls in the Grand Canyon even though the day before we were told we were not welcome. We were told there was no room, we were not allowed to hike or camp there, and we needed reservations. We also had to drive an hour out of our way to even get to the places parking lot, which if we got turned away would waste more than 2 hours of prime daylight time at the South Rim. These aren't things you really think about when you're untouchable. Sure there are risks but do you think Superman worries about finding the oven mitt before taking brownies out of the oven? Of course not. Sometimes you know what you want when you want it, so Tobi and I began our 18 mile drive out of the Grand Canyon at 7am to hopefully make it to the parking lot of our next destination by 10am, an hour out of the way, just in the hope that they might let us hike their trail.

I will never understand how perspective can switch so much inside my own head. My head stays the same, relatively. I mean besides bed head, which I've now taken care of thanks to shaving my head, and a huge spider bite scar, my outward appearance stays pretty much the same from moment to moment. But inside my head I can go from feeling like a million bucks to 10 cents in no time at all. When I met Tobi I went from feeling that the end of my trip would be a failure to thinking the end of my trip was going to be the best week of my life in the time span of an hour. Yet on the road, when I was told we were not welcome to the Canyon waterfalls because we didn't have reservations I was depressed again. It's terrible to have great hopes, dreams, and desires that someone can put an end to over the phone, "Sorry, we're booked solid." Those simple words made everything we were hoping to see impossible. But one nights sleep and the impossible seemed possible again.

It was mostly a silent 3 hour drive to where we were headed. Tobi and I didn't say much outwardly and inside we were in knots. We knew what we were doing was crazy, but we just kept thinking that if we believed it would work out, it would work out. We reached the parking lot and it became obviously clear that the person on the phone wasn't kidding when they said they were full. Cars were parked everywhere. I mean, there was a "parking lot" but the lines drawn on the ground did only about half the job for all the cars there. For a moment while driving in we got behind a line of cars thinking it was traffic before realizing they were parked there because the lot was full. Lucky for us we did find a spot right between the donkeys and the porta-potties.

So we were there! That was a big enough step, but what to do now? Besides a small shed, about 50 donkeys, some great views, and more cars than we've seen since leaving Vegas we couldn't tell what all the fuss was about. Where were the people that drove these cars in here? We had to ask. The fear of getting kicked out made us hesitate from asking workers dumb questions about things anyone with a reservation should already know. So instead we asked a few people we saw in the parking lot about some information.

Where do we go from here? Is it worth it? Do you think they'd kick us out? We threw a barrage of questions at these clearly tired travelers (we'd come to find out why later). Apparently the parking lot is only the starting point. You need to hike 10 miles along the Canyon floor to get to the Indian reservation, and then check in. Once you're there it's two more miles of hiking to get to the camp site and the falls. Is it worth it? We repeated. I will never forget the look on the mans face when he said "If you came this far only to turn around at this parking lot you'll never forgive yourself. The scenery down there is some of the most contrasting beauties the world has to offer put right along side of each other. Desert cliffs, with crystal blue water rushing over it. Is it worth it? Yeah, it's worth it."

That sealed the deal. We would push on. As soon as we had that in our heads (a perspective change from fearful, to determined) we even asked some of the workers some questions, and to our surprise they were welcoming. "Just head down the trail, you'll see it in 10 miles." We didn't need anyone else to point us in the right direction but it was someone comforting to know that at least someone working at this place told us we could hike it. Even though we knew a lowly donkey renter had no business speaking for the tribe, you take any little victory you can when you're in our position.

So we began our hike. Not knowing what laid ahead, not knowing if we'd get turned back, but we did know there was a chance we'd see something amazing, and that was why we pushed on. Just as we were about to embark on the trail we asked a group of hikers to take our picture. We were on cloud nine, and it was just about the right time to get brought down to earth again. "Yeah, we'll take your picture," they said "you're smiling now, but you won't be later. This is the hike goes through hell." Funny, no one we talked to mentioned the grueling nature of the hike. Not my cousin, my friend Mimi, the man in the parking lot, or the donkey salesman. But come to think of it, the man in the parking lot did look extremely worn out, and granted the guy selling donkeys wasn't looking up to snuff but I thought that was the nature of his business. Now I was on the head of the trail smiling for a picture in front of about 15 teenagers that all looked like they'd just finished their house chores at the Hearst Castle. Their faces somehow backed up the claim that this hike went through hell, but if it takes walking through hell to get to heaven, I'd be up for that because, let's not forget, I'm untouchable again.

No comments: