The Grand Canyon and Beyond

So helloooo…

I’m here in a corner of a coffee shop here in Las Vegas, waiting till we head to the airport to go home, avoiding the heat, and trying to get at least one update from my recent travels done. No sexiness in the next little bit – I’ve been at my un-kinky best, being mom, girlfriend, hiker, backpacker & fellow (non-kinky) traveler. (But never fear, I have at least two kink events coming up in the next month to satisfy my deepest kinky desires, so should have some fun stuff to report soon.) Anyway, on to the past 10 days or so!


So. This is likely to be a little schizophrenic, timeline-wise, because there were not many opportunities to write. The one day I did have time, I lounged about next to a creek, resting my tired ole muscles and bones, as well as the solitude. Not surprisingly, having traveled with my adult daughter and Ad, I had precious little down or alone time. Not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the time I had with them! But I will be glad to get back to my usual routines, and to be able to spend some time (maybe?) writing a bit, now that I’m not having to hike / walk / do stairs every damn day. Here’s an example of all the hiking that my Fitbit kept track of while we were backpacking, and that I had been in training for for the last few months (and one reason I have been so absent here):

And now, in sort-of day-by-day (NOT) order:

Saturday, September 14 – Phoenix, AZ

So earlier in the week, I posted this in a private Facebook group I belong to:

So here’s my dilemma (and anxiety, and conundrum…) I’m sharing here because a) I don’t want my two hiking companions to worry, and b) I just don’t want to share it with the world, but need to get this out there before I curl up in a ball and just cry.

 

(This is long…don’t feel obligated to read, I just need to get this off my chest.)

 

As I’ve mentioned, my conditioning focus has been on being able to do an upcoming backpacking trip without injuring myself, and also be strong enough to be able to ENJOY the hiking, not just endure it, as I did 20 years ago when I did a similar trip. A big part of that, besides endurance, has been getting my back strong enough to carry 30+ lbs. for 10 miles/day for 4 days. I ruptured a disc and had back surgery 3 years ago, and still have another bad disc, so this has been a challenge.

But I had done it, and (prior to Sunday) I was feeling GREAT. I was getting up in the morning without pain for the first time in YEARS. I had established my weight limit and had gone the distance several times, and while I was tired and sore the next day, I was not disabled. I was on cloud 9! 

 

Then, Sunday came. My training plan for this last week before the trip was to do several shorter hikes/walks, without weight or with light weight. All good. Until I bent over to tie my shoes in prep to take a walk with my daughter – and tweaked my back. HARD. Sharp, stabbing pain that I was familiar with, then muscle spasms and the same old disc pain I had been dealing with for 20+ years. I was devastated. But, I tried to walk it out, thinking that would help.

 

I should have stopped at three miles, but I pushed myself another three. And I suffered. It was agonizing.

 

So, fast forward to today. I have NOT been pushing at all, I have been taking anti-inflammatories religiously (though they tear my stomach up), going super gentle stretching, using my standing desk like I’m supposed to as well as my knee pillow, and walking short distances a few times a day. I am doing EVERYTHING I’m supposed to do.

 

My back is better – definitely better – but not 100%. I can feel the pain waiting there to flare up. I can feel the edges of it when I sit down or stand up or move too suddenly. And I haven’t tried yet to walk even a mile, because I’m afraid of not being able to, or aggravating the injury again.

 

We leave Saturday for Arizona, we pack up and head out on the trail on Sunday. And I’m beside myself with worry. How will I know if I can carry weight – and then carry it, up and down, a mile in elevation for four days??? Today, I don’t know if I could WALK a mile up or down hill, much less hike it in the severe conditions at the Grand Canyon.

 

I don’t know how I will be able to decide if I should try (and risk ruining everyone else’s trip – not just us three are involved.) It’s not the kind of trip where I can just give my backpack to someone else; and the reality is, even if I am able to carry it, I will be SLOW. Slow enough to impact everyone else. We have all paid a LOT for this trip, and though I know my partner and daughter would be – not fine – but at least understanding, I can’t expect anyone else to be, and I don’t want them to have to be.

 

I am so sad, and sick with anxiety, and I wonder if I should just pull out now and stay at the Rim while everyone else goes down, just in case, even if I feel a ton better. I’m heartbroken though. I’ve planned and worked so hard for this. I hate my body right now. I hate its brokenness and weakness, and that no matter what I do – doing something like bending over to tie my shoes could result in THIS.

I was sure that all my weeks of training, planning and of anticipation had come to nothing. I’m still not sure that it hasn’t, but I’m more optimistic at least. Today I had very little pain or achiness on waking, and have been lugging my daypack all over the airport with only a twinge now and then. But three days ago… I was pretty devastated, sure that I would have to cancel and hang out on the rim while everyone else hiked the canyon. But here I am, feeling…cautiously optimistic.

My optimism was almost derailed not more than 20 minutes into the trip though. Not by my cranky back or the allergies that have laid me low, though, no – by American Airlines, with whom I had booked my flight to Las Vegas, by way of Los Angeles, six months prior.

Adam and my daughter (aka the Missy and the Girlchild – tho she’s hardly a child anymore!) were safely deposited at Southwest Airlines, ready to board their own flight. I had booked a different flight with award miles, but when I put in my confirmation number, the flight it pulled up was not the 6:50 AM flight that I had booked. It showed me taking a 2 PM flight to LAX, then changing planes for Las Vegas to arrive at 5:30 PM.

We had an orientation meeting at 5 PM. At the hotel in Flagstaff. Two hours from Vegas.

WTF??

Apparently, American “doesn’t have a morning flight to Los Angeles,” I was informed by a not-very-helpful customer service person. “You’re booked on the 2 PM flight…”

“No, wait,” I said. Obviously they have a 6:50 AM flight. That’s why I was there at 5 AM. “I booked it six months ago.” I showed her the confirmation email. She barely glanced at it.

“I hear what you are saying,” she said, “But I show you made a change on {some date in June} and are checked in for the 2 PM flight.”

“I did not make a change and I have NOT checked in for that flight,” I said.

“I show right here you did.”

“Look,” I said, struggling to restrain my growing irritation. “I’m standing here right now telling you I did NOT change my flight OR check myself in. I don’t know how that happened but it isn’t something I did, and I have to be in Flagstaff by 5 PM, so I would appreciate it if you would get me on the flight I booked and that I have a confirmation for.”

Eventually, after a whole lot of back-and-forth and her threatening to upcharge me about twice the cost of the original ticket (if I hadn’t been using award miles) I finally got her to put me through to her manager who got me on a flight thru Phoenix to get me there in time for my Vegas flight – and DIDN’T use any more awards miles. (Thank you AA – finally.) And that is where I am now, waiting for my flight to Vegas.

And, there it is!

Saturday, September 21 – Springdale, Utah

Whew! I wrote all that days – and an entire Grand Canyon Adventure – ago. In point of fact I am here in Utah now, 120 miles from the Grand Canyon, in a city called Springdale, at the entrance to Zion National Park. Adam and my daughter are currently in the canyon, hiking a part called The Narrows, a place that Ad and I had hiked over a year ago while we were back here for our friends’ wedding. I’m in a little restaurant having chips and guacamole, sipping a 3.5 beer (silly liquor laws here in the Mormon State!) and writing. I just watched a man walk up to and pick out a book from one of those little “Free Libraries” that I want to put up in front of my house – it’s nice to see familiar things, even when far from home. :-)

So what am I doing here, drinking a beer, while they are on arguably one of the prettiest trails in Zion? Mostly avoiding having my back act up again. It did great all the through the Grand Canyon – thank god – but I woke up this morning with it tweaking and spasming, so I took the day off hiking today. I’ve done a LOT of miles this vacation, and although the Narrows are beautiful, they are also tricky to navigate, with slippery rocks and fast-moving water that can easily throw a person off-balance. I considered going, then decided not to take the chance of slipping and wrenching everything out of whack. And you know what? It’s okay. I haven’t had a moment to myself in days, and though I love the Girlchild and Adam, and enjoyed the people we met on our trek, I needed some solitary time for sure.

(Author note: I tried to stick to writing at this point but…failed. I ended up walking back to a creekside park and lolling about, relaxing.)

Sunday, September 22 – Las Vegas, Nevada

So now here I am, finally almost at the very end of a lovely 10 days vacation, poolside in Las Vegas, while we wait for our room to be ready to check in to. The poolside bartender made me a VERY strong pina colada, that admittedly I drank too fast, so I am sitting here kind of lolling in the heat, trying to make good use of this downtime. I didn’t make as good of use of my time as I should have yesterday – Ad and the Girl were gone from 9 AM to 6:30 PM hiking the Narrows, and all I got written was the above.

And now all I want to do is take a nap. Ha.

What did I do in between my last post, in the airport in Phoenix, yesterday, at Zion, and now today, here in Las Vegas? As usual, the only way to recall it all is through pictures. Click through for notes.

Day 1: September 15 – The Bright Angel Trail out to Plateau Point and then Across the Tonto Plateau to Horn Creek

Panorama view of our first campsite.

Day 2 (part 1): September 16 – Across Tonto West to Monument Creek

“Monument Creek is a very short canyon that rests below one of the most dramatic drops in the Grand Canyon. A good aerial view can be seen from the Abyss viewpoint on the Hermits Rest Road. The canyon gets its name from the 130-foot pillar of Tapeats Sandstone and Zoroaster Granite that have managed to stand vertical in resistance. Monument creek is unique because it offers great views of the Abyss, it is a 45 minute hike from Granite Rapids and it features a small but beautiful set of narrows directly below the monument.” ~ From Grand Canyon National Park website

Day 2 (part 2): Home Sweet Monument Creek Home (& My Birthday!)

There’s more photos where these came from, but this post is getting loooong…so…more later!

Comments

    1. Jade Post author

      Thanks so much! Oddly enough my back has been hurting more since I got back – I really think all that exercise was good for it!

      Reply

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