April 3, 2013 Pancho’s Kitchen, Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park
Today we pushed from Forester Canyon to Pancho’s Kitchen. When I woke this morning, my gut already felt tight from the memories of my rookie trip last year on this stretch.
Today, we floated that same section. I found myself so clenched with anxiety that, my mood most likely hazarded the enjoyment of others in my crew. I felt my pulse quicken when the ominous growl of each rapid became audible. Returning to the boats from scouting, I failed at each attempt to look focused instead of grim.
One by one, I navigated the rapids. I remembered lessons learned over the past year, and came out the bottom of each rapid right side up; thrilled by the knowledge that I had nailed my line.
We floated through the narrowest part of the canyon where walls of Zoroaster Granite and Vishnu Schist, rise a mere 76 feet apart. I vividly recalled my mood the last time I passed beneath these walls. Frustrated, tired, humbled, embarrassed, and recovering from some of my more terrifying rafting experiences, it had been challenging to enjoy and appreciate the splendor of my surroundings. This time through, I felt on top of the world at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
During this 24 day expedition, we pan the spectrum of our emotions. We encounter the boundaries of our comfort and skills daily. Enduring searing days and frigid nights, we exist in one of nature’s most extreme environments. We rely on the others of our crew to make the trip safe and successful. We are interdependent on others who face their own challenges, who possess concerns back in the civilized world from which we have removed ourselves, over which we have relinquished all control.
We are the varied sums of infinite variables, experiences, talents, knowledge and skills. Both individually and collectively we have our good moments and our not so good moments. Now that our group has passed the median of days and miles and have developed the routine of our river existence, we will find the sun rising and setting with alarming speed. It becomes increasingly important to savor the moments. Each rapid, each hike, each vista; as we know not when we will find ourselves here again; and time, that great distorter and thief of memory will blend these retrospectives into an amalgam of water and sand, sun and stars, mirth and frustration.
While we get to experience the trip of a lifetime, we also run the gamut of emotions because it’s difficult and often uncomfortable. But without these challenges we savor no glory. That’s why we are here and not at a beach resort. We have our own beach and many more to choose from down river.