Discovering My Limits – Grand Canyon Humility
by Theresa Gabriel, Expert Guide and Personal
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
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.
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