The Grand Canyon (Day 1 Night): “Smiling the Whole Way Down” by Shelby Seals Foster

Done. D. O. N. E. Done. So tired. I didn’t think I could do it. Throughout the day I looked back at where we had come from and did not believe that it was possible, and then looked at what lie ahead and it seemed equally impossible. The last 20 minutes down into the ravine to our campsite was exhausted torture. Boys appear to be fine. Never once complained. I hid my panic and pain, not wanting either to become contagious or scare the boys. Even though I was the slowest in the group, we finished our 8 miles today on schedule. We set up camp at Hermit Creek and cooked just before dark, which happens suddenly on the canyon floor. Recognizing I was spent, Kyle and Christy gracefully showed the boys what needed to be done and set up my tent for me. Kyle made us warm Alfredo chicken pasta, a grateful feat of miraculous proportions, and we ate in the dark sitting on rocks. Cute white Cinderella mice scurried around, and the boys caught them when they came too close. We drank water and I fed the boys Aleve. I took 3. I quietly catalogued my aches and pains: a slightly pulled back muscle from skidding down on loose gravel, aching but not injured knees and hips, and two blue toes. Pretty sure I’m going to lose those nails. Kyle and the boys went down to the creek to filter water to replace what we had used drinking and cooking. My son successfully dug a hole to potty, I tried but couldn’t make it happen (sorry, keeping it real). We took a brief look at the layers of stars, a deep slice of heaven framed by the canyon rims and went to sleep listening to Hermit Rapids. It rained during the night, but we were not cold. Our tents, sleeping bags and gear were up to the task. Day 1 is over, and it was good. All safely at the bottom, no injuries, boys grinning ear to ear. I expected my feet and knees might hurt at the end of the day. I didn’t expect my face to hurt, from smiling the whole way down.

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