So you already know I was a fairly big chicken on our recent vacation out west. "Mom," the kiddo said. “What's your problem? I mean, seriously. How can you think this is scary? It’s cool!"
Yes, it was cool. So very cool I'm not sure I can explain it. But it was also scary as hell. Let me tell you why...
People are scary. I'm probably going to offend half the population with this post so here goes. People are crazy. On some of the highest trails and catwalks in both the grand canyon and Bryce canyon I saw people taking selfies on out-of-bounds ledges, kids running, scads of hikers in flip flops and sandals, many with heels, and I even saw two women with umbrella parasols. On walkways barely passable if you turned sideways! I’m just going to come right out and admit it to the world--I trust myself but I don't trust y'all! Add a stiff breeze whipping all around into the mix and it just got all up and weird at 9400 ft.
There’s nothing about the situation that's normal. Nothing. When you're standing on a precipice staring at a landscape you're having a hard time believing is real, everything around you becomes surreal. In both the GC and Bryce at elevation, my peripheral vision couldn't take in the scenery fast enough as the views were very nearly 360. At times I felt like I was floating and it was a bit of a struggle to focus on what was right in front of me or at my feet as I took tenuous, baby steps. Zion National park was the easiest for me as it's a slot canyon and we hiked the lower levels. Mossy Cave at Bryce was also a canyon-up hike--yeah!
Everything I love--my whole life--was on those catwalks. Both of my boys were fearless and were way out ahead of me at my request most of the time. Grief sake! If I went down, I didn't want to take them with me! But as I stood back and watched them disappear around curves or rocks or ledges, I held my breath, praying I’d see them again. My whole life was suspended on a narrow piece of rock contained by chain link fencing that looked like I could compromise it with a butter knife numerous times during our trip and I'll be honest--I didn't like it.
I hiked all of the low canyon passes and 60% of the upper elevations. We shared great laughs as a family and was able to laugh at myself as I hugged trees near ledges and found big, flat safe rocks to park on while waiting for my dare devils to return from their near death experiences. And I discovered what I already knew but am quick to discount--nothing else matters but the welfare of my family. The job, the housework, the errands, the budget? The regrets of the past and dreams for the future? None of it matters without my boys.