Getting Started

Karen and I do not have a long history of hiking. Sure, we’ve walked along a few trails during our fifteen years of marriage, but it just never occurred to us to take on hiking as an avocation. That all changed during our recent trip to the south rim of Grand Canyon and to Sedona.

Back in ’79 and ’80 I worked as a reservations clerk in Grand Canyon Village. During that time I hiked hundreds of miles in the canyon, exploring many of the backcountry trails. Needless to say, I loved hiking, and I especially loved Grand Canyon. Being back on the rim, thirty-five years later, and looking down at the old familiar trails, pointing them out to my wife, brought back more than nostalgia. It reminded me of a past-time that once brought me pleasure, peace of mind, and a sense of accomplishment. But, was I now too old? I was certainly getting out of shape. Perhaps, it was too late to think of hiking once again.

Before heading back home, Karen and I stopped overnight at Sedona. Before leaving we decided to take a short hike. The Cathedral Rock Trail was listed as being only one mile long, but was also said to be difficult. I attributed that rating to the steepness merely, not at all aware of what that steepness involved. I should say, having climbed Cathedral Rock, that “Trail” is a misnomer, because—although well-marked with white blazes—there is often no cultivated trail beneath one’s feet, but only rock. The so-called trail is, in some places, nothing more than a crevice. Huffing and puffing, I reached the magnificent overlook at the top, right behind Karen. Doubts had given us pause more than once during our ascent. Yet, here we were. We had done it! We had met the challenge!

As we made our way back down, we reflected on what we had just done and what it meant. First, it meant that we were not too old. Second, although it let us know just how out of shape we had become, it also let us know that we could tolerate some rigorous exercise. Gradually, the plan came to us: we would become hikers, and we would get ourselves back into shape.  Who knows, . . . after a year or two, we might actually return to Arizona and hike the canyon!

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About Birch

After much hiking in my youth (Boy Scouts, working at Grand Canyon, and Army Infantry) and a long hiatus from the trails, I picked up my trekking poles again in 2014 at the age of 53. I'm having a blast! . . . But, alas, so many trails, and so little time.

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