Dr. CK Bray
Why Park Rangers Lied to Me at the Grand Canyon
I recently hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim. It is a 44-mile hike with about 14,000 feet in elevation. Only 3 days before the trip, four friends convinced me to go. The first 22 miles were great fun as we began the hike at 11:00 pm and hiked through the night only to end up watching a beautiful sunrise as we climbed the North Rim. Due to injuries and other reasons I was left to hike back to the south rim alone. I wasn't worried as I like being alone and knew I could get some good thinking done during the next 12 hours. I quickly learned there is a big difference between hiking with four friends and hiking alone. The talking, laughing, peer pressure to keep up, and the energy of the group made the first ½ of the hike really enjoyable.
The return hike was hard, really really hard. As I made the final ascent up the south rim to finish my 44 miles I overheard one hiker tell his fellow hiker he didn't think he could make it and to go on ahead. His friend replied, "I'm not leaving you, we can do this together." I, more than anything, wanted a "together" moment to help me during the final stretch to the top, but I didn't have it (although I did have a ranger who lied that I only had two miles to go when it was really four). I realized at that moment (while somewhat delirious) that life oftentimes is having to walk the hard road alone. Even when surrounded by friends and family, the hard climbs are often not known or understood by others. That's okay because it is in those moments we learn to trust ourselves and amaze ourselves by doing the hard thing. Sometimes we have to walk alone. No one else wrote my first book, no one could study for me during all those years of schooling, no one would go pick up my last two children from countries halfway around the world. I had to do it. So when you have to walk the last 22 miles alone, I trust you can do it. But......realize you won't always walk alone.
When I reached the top of the south rim, I walked out of that canyon sat down on the curb, and quickly realized I wasn't getting up. I then heard, "Chris is that you? Let's get you out of here and get you some food." A good friend to the rescue! Life will offer you up the right people at that right time, but it may just differ from the time YOU think you need it. So don't despair if you are walking the hard road and feel alone. Be proud and keep walking. Out of the blue, you may hear someone call your name and want to help take care of you. (Or you may get a ranger who will lie to you about how far you have to go not realizing you are wearing a GPS watch.)