Many of us are supported by a sense of perspective change from our time outdoors. Many of us are drawn to challenge, knowing that unseen gifts can lie on the other side of our obstacles.
Times are tough all over. TMI Warning: I have had significant Long haul Covid symptoms since March 2020. Changed my already challenging life. I know death. Know many impoverished by new challenges.
BUT, what gifts I have received over this year. Perspective!
True recognition and full embrace of the knowledge that living according to my values gives true joy, irregardless of outer circumstances. I mean, sometimes it sleets on Summit Day.
Many of us took the opportunity to spend a lot of time outside over this last year. I was only diminished about 35% from my recent abilities to explore outside due to illness. For example, I spent 20 continuous days in the Golden Trout Wilderness / southern Sequoia National Park in July and did another trip of a week in the Ansel Adams wilderness.
What gifts did the outdoors offer you during these times?
I spent a month and a half in the Bill Williams, Flagstaff, South rim Grand Canyon area for May and June. It's a good area for training as the weather is tolerable and base elevations are around 7,000 ft.
The Grand Canyon had been closed off and on. It reopened with almost no facilities, and no backpacking permitted. No one was on the river, and no tourist plane travel was allowed over the park. The road east from Desert View was closed into the Navajo Nation. They were very few people in Grand Canyon National Park.
I was lucky to get a slight break in the smoke from the fire on the North Rim and dropped in on the Grandview Trail a half an hour after sunrise. Only four people had been at Grandview point for sunrise, and one of them had entered the trail ahead of me. As I was going down the Grandview Trail I saw two other hikers at least a half an hour behind me, but no one else.
I got down to Horseshoe Mesa and the hiker I had seen ahead of me turned back up to climb up the mountain, a pretty good climb. He wanted to get back to his girlfriend who he had left up on the rim. I had the place to myself.
I have walked in that area and know where all the trails are. There was no one on a trail anywhere nearby. There was no one on the river. I walked to both ends of the Horseshoe Mesa and I had the whole place to myself. I continued to look back up at the trail and saw no one else. The two hikers I had seen behind me must have turned back at some of the more challenging, scary places.
I was in heaven. A couple of my pictures in my profile are from that time. I saw no one on the trail as I walked back up until I was within 5 minutes of the top, where there was a halfway decent crowd for the sunset.
What up blessed day. May it be so again.
Hi @SolaceEasy - Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that story! Because of the traffic that has been around during my visits, I truly cannot imagine being in the Grand Canyon with no one else in sight. I am a sunrise person myself, so what you described sounds truly amazing. It's great to hear you had such a powerful experience during a trying year.
Your line "sometimes it sleets on Summit Day" stuck out to me too. Those days have been big lessons for me in my relationship with the mountains. I was fortunate to be living in a town of 800 people in the mountains of Vermont for 2020, so it was fairly easy to get out to lakes/rocks/mountains responsibly. One of the lessons the last year really engrained in me is that the summits and sends are of course great, but the number of days I get to be out at all are really what are life changing to me.
Thanks again for sharing. Looking forward to hear more your thoughts and stories in the future!
Those are amazing pics on your profile and sorry to hear about the lingering symptoms. My whole household, myself included, had coronavirus back in early November despite keeping as much to ourselves as possible. Some of my extended family are still experiencing long haul symptoms months later as well, including some of the most fit. We have also known many friends who lost work. (Disclaimer: This is not a political statement!)
At first there were a large amount of people in the state and national parks near us, then the parks were off and on again closed because of the amount of people coming, funding, or staffing reasons same as it sounds like happened at Grand Canyon. I was selfishly upset at first that I was sharing the trails now with so many more people when it used to be a more isolated experience, but if those folks continued to make use of all the outdoors had to offer I realized all the good that could come from it. The first spring ski season was cancelled early, and right before I big trip we had planned with the kids from the year prior, so that was a terrible bummer I still haven't gotten over. This past season was limited capacity, so there were some days we couldn't go and some things we couldn't do, but we still made the most of it. If anything, I think the resorts were less crowded, unlike the xc trails.
The biggest enjoyment I got this year was being out cross country skiing while others were doing the birkie vitually on the same trail system. I have to believe that the competitors never got as many obstacles as they did that day! There were entire families out skiing the easy loops, which share trails with the more challenging ones in places. I saw many spandex clad skate skiers struggle to avoid falling kids, struggling parents, older skiers, and newbies! I had never seen the parking lot at capacity in the winter, probably 100 cars there that day. The winter is beautiful, a shear reflection of the magnificence of nature, a connection to things devine, and something I appreciate now more than I probably ever did before. I share your appreciation of perspective!
Your post brings ack memories of trips to Horsshoe Mesa in the 80s when i and other memers of the Cave Research Foundation mapped some of the caves there, Just one of the many fascinating locales in the Grand Canyon. II am partial to archaeological sites and caves....
Wish you the best in your tussles with the long haul stuff.....