My son Declan and I set out to finish our hike of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite. (Recall, last summer we were helicoptered out after my chemo ass fainted twice about 24 miles in….)
Well, this year we did it!
We started from the same trailhead, descended 3,600 ft, and waxed a little nostalgic as we camped in the same sites and trekked over familiar ground. Once again, we crossed paths with bears and snakes and marveled at the many beautiful wildflowers growing out of the rocky terrain.
But upon coming back to the site of the makeshift helipad we both were struck with emotions. A mix of “Fuck yeah, we did it! We’re bad asses!” and “Now what?” (Recall in Finding Nemo after the Tank Gang plop into Sydney harbor in their Ziploc baggies?)
We hiked another 12 miles and 3,600’ back up the canyon, past some breathtakingly gorgeous waterfalls and mountain vistas, to the other end – completing our journey, both physically and spiritually.
I won’t lie. This hike is extremely challenging. 40 miles from end to end. 7,200 ft of overall elevation change. Granite staircases. Water crossings over downed logs and branches. Lots of sections exposed to sun, wind and freezing rain. There were times when we were both exhausted – physically and emotionally – and ready to call it. I’m so glad that we took turns encouraging one another to keep pressing on and finish.
My battle with cancer has been life changing in so many ways. That sounds trite, but I’m not just talking about me and my outlook on life. I hope that I’ve shown Declan (and by extension his sister Caitlin) how important it is to follow through on a goal, despite whatever obstacles life might throw your way. You might not make it on the first try, but try, try again!