The Grand Adventure
I doubt that I am capable of sharing, in words, the depth of beauty filling my heart as I reflect on the trip Ashley and I shared. However, I will attempt to wrangle my emotions and memories in an effort to share with anyone interested in embarking on a similar journey of epic proportion. Perhaps this will inspire, or be a catalyst to the person teetering on the edge of indecision. Don’t wait until tomorrow, or some time in the future when an adventure would better suit your busy schedule. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. To live a life full of love, laughter, and substance is not the ultimate challenge. The challenge lies in letting go….. This is my tale of letting go with my best friend in the Grand Canyon.
Talk of a journey to the Grand Canyon for a Rim2Rim2Rim run began well over a year ago. Ashley and I entertained the possibility of bidding our families farewell for a brief interlude beneath the desert sky at least three times before we bit the bullet, purchased tickets, and began daydreaming of our time together engaging in our favorite activities. The final push for us was largely influenced by my family’s permanent move to Rhode Island. In saying farewell to Georgia, gone were the seasonal runs I shared with Ashley. I would no longer be able to meet her for a trail runat Fort Yargo, nor pound the miles of Barrow County pavement. Running together once more was going to require planning. So that’s what we did. And we wanted to do it big.
What’s bigger than the Grand Canyon? Not a whole lot. Naturally, we were drawn to the challenge the Canyon presented. A relaxing spa vacation would not fulfill the desires of two stubborn, adventure craving, strong willed women. What we were seeking could only be found in nature. An ultra-run of epic proportion would take place in Arizona. We looked forward to battling the altitude and its lung busting powers, the elevation and the muscle fatigue, and the challenging elements of the desert landscape. Our hearts would be renewed as they soared, surrounded by the history and beauty of geological formations.
This adventure meant a great deal more than a platform for physical stimulation. Personally, I needed the boost provided by the excitement surrounding the planning of the trip. Much of the cold, dark, winter months were spent drooling over photographs, gathering gear, training and anticipating. New England winters are a challenge for me. They are tough for many reasons. I am a southern girl by birth. During the cold season, I long to feel the sun on my face, and have the damp heat enshroud me like a blanket. If you must put a label on it, S.A.D. suits me. Or rather, doesn’t suit me. This feeling is deep, as if my soul is connected to the sun. Without the sun, I rely on those around me for extra warmth and light. Ashley was one of my primary sources of sunlight this winter. We shared many tearful conversations, yet I always felt better afterward. Finding someone who “gets” you is an immeasurable treasure, a priceless gift. You see, Ashley and I share similar chemical makeup. As my mom once said to me “you are able to experience the highest highs of life, but you are saddled with the lows as well.” Just like Newton’s laws of gravity, “what goes up must come down.” I have had difficulty helping others understand why I am the way I am. With Ashley, I don’t have to explain. We just understand one another. Consequently, the Canyon called to us like a siren luring us from our homes.