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TRAVEL 

Discovering My Limits – Grand Canyon Humility

by Theresa Gabriel, Expert Guide and Personal Coach

Ever since I saw the Grand Canyon from a commercial airplane from high above, I’d wanted to get down inside it. When my chance came, I decided to hike down to Roaring Springs via the North Kaibab Trail in the Bright Angel Canyon. The night before, my husband and I stayed in the North Rim cabins built by Teddy Roosevelt’s crews. They looked just like Lincoln Log cabins, even with green roofs! 

Because this was my husband’s vacation too, we took time for a nice breakfast at the lodge. We started off on the trail at 8:30 on a morning in mid May. Not long after entering the canyon, we passed a pack of Boy Scouts on their way out. They had started from Phantom Ranch on the bottom of the main canyon at 4:00 am. We met lots of people going both ways, and complained about the mule droppings. I had decided early on not to take the mules into the canyon. It didn’t seem safe, and it seemed like the wusy way to travel.

The sight as we descended was simply amazing. Rust colored cliffs began to soar above us. I could see the trail wind down in the wide open spaces ahead of us, around the bends, and over green pastures. Time passed quickly, and before we knew it, three hours had passed. There was still no sign of the springs. 

Upon planning our hike, a six hour round trip according to the hiking manual, we had decided to keep to that limit due to the heat. We had received several printed warnings about the danger caused by heat, and I knew from experience that estimated hiking times are often wrong.

I knew we should turn around. I was angry at my husband for the leisure breakfast because we would have done better in cooler conditions. I was frustrated that I couldn’t keep following the path. But knowing that safety was more important than emotions, we turned back.

This trail has a water source available at one point, so we were able to replenish our water supply on our way up. We went through a lot of water. I poured water on myself to cool off, and to me it seemed frigid. Later I found out that the water wasn’t cold, but I had become overheated. We made good time going up. Upon reaching civilization, we stopped for ice cream bars and went for a nap.

After our trip, I was still frustrated by my inability to complete the planned trek. I didn’t truly understand my journey into the canyon until I later heard about a woman who led rafting excursions through the Grand Canyon. One day she couldn’t ride through one set of rapids, and had to get out of the raft to climb around on the rocks. She said that the Grand Canyon isn’t about accomplishments; it’s about accepting our limits. I understood that my frustration resulted from my notion of who I thought I should be, and from a standard of ‘success’ that is usually measured differently. We can call it ‘the ego’ or pride. Sometimes true satisfaction comes with accepting ourselves as we are. 

On my next trip, we will be using mules. I hear they’ve never lost a soul. 

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Paths began to beckon Theresa when she was 12, visiting the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming. Walking, dancing, and movement are a part of her, nourished by John Denver's musical challenge for her to "fly." She has walked up mountains and through forests in Wyoming, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. She's lived in Germany and has traveled extensively in Europe, even leading a pilgrimage. Her recent walks in the Grand Canyon and Alaska inspired her to begin her dream business of "walking with women." Learn more about Theresa Gabriel and her Life Discovery Tours at her web site. Women Summit LLC www.womensummit.com

God save the Malayalee

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