I was asked by a good friend why I was going to the Grand Canyon. Here is a brief description on why I solo hike and camp the Grand Canyon and what the Lord says to me there.
Last April I solo day hiked down Bright Angel to Plateau Point, had breakfast and headed back up for the drive home. Last May my marathon friend, John Sobchak, and I hiked rim to rim in a day. This past Monday I solo camped in Mather campground and hiked Kaibab Trail rim to river and back in 5 hours before the necessary cafe mocha and drive home. Why hike? I go because I need some space to take a deep breath and jump start my sense of perspective and imagination. I find that this jump start requires a healthy dose of adventure, danger, travel and self-reliance. Make no mistake (and do not send this to my mom) it is very dangerous. The book Death in the Grand Canyon is a loooong book. Screw up in the canyon and they will have to go through your pockets to figure out who to call. But danger is good for the soul, being scared is good for one’s prayer life. And, I like the adventurous people there. No one sang songs about us when we went Rim to Rim in a day. Why not? Because there is a crowd of people doing it every day. Who cares about a couple of 40 somethings doing it once when there is a man named Maverick who hiked it 80 times the year he turned 80? (Just google him: Maverick Rim to Rim) I need to be around people like one finds at the GC.
While it is true that the hikes I do require training, route mapping, nutrition planning, etc. These hikes and camping trips require almost no gear. What they do require is a large desire to hit the reset button and get back to the way things should be, the way I should be. The Canyon doesn’t care for my timelines or plans or worries or anxieties (Anxieties like; “Should I do this or that?” or “What if this, what if that?” or, “Will the guy from Costa Mesa, CA camping next to me kill me in the night and take my stuff?”). Because everything is so big and so rugged, prayer feels natural there, normal there. Hiking becomes a meditation on the glory of God and it seems clear what part I am to play in it. What I am NOT doing on these hikes is trying to have a life changing experience. I am hiking to just live life better by coming home more like that place. So, when I hiked 6.5 miles down and had a bagel with peanut butter on Boat Beach along the Colorado River and then I get up and get on with the difficult task of climbing 6.5 miles out of the canyon, I am free. What am I free from? I am free from everything the world values and the hold it has on me. What the world values is money, reputation, long life, achievement, good food, fine clothes, pleasant music, bodily comfort and people becoming anxious, intolerable, exhausted, and unbearable in their pursuit of these things. What the Lord values is what the Grand Canyon can give you in 15 minutes; a fullness of joy. That’s it. Because with the Lord I stop looking to be happy. I just am happy. Contentment and well-being are possible when the task at hand is hiking and not fretting. I enjoy time with the Lord and myself in His creation so beautiful, rugged, and fragile.