I woke up to find that I had slept funny on my neck and had a terrible crick in the top of my back and neck. Also I had a sore throat from what I’m sure was nasal drip from being cold and wet all day long.
I quickly learned though that I wasn’t in the worst shape of the group when Marc looked up at me still in the sleeping bag and said, “I can’t go any more.” I asked what he meant. He said, “You guys hike out and call for a helicopter.” I told him that wasn’t an option. He told me that he hadn’t slept all night and had been throwing up and going to the bathroom several times and was unable to keep anything down; I’ll spare you the details but let’s just says it wasn’t a pretty sight. I assured him that we’d get him fixed up and that he’d make it but I wasn’t so sure. We set to work and quickly got him some water and made oatmeal. That combined with some drugs got him up and going and after a while we were all finally packed up and had pumped water for the morning.
Before too long we found it impossible to continue rock hopping/climbing and had to plunge into the water. Since we set out hiking a little later than the previous day the sun was up and the water wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating or maybe my tolerance had increased. In any case we attempted to stay together as a group but became spread out each time we set off again.
There were two incredibly long swims on this day and it felt like we were barely moving because the wind was blowing against us and it seemed the sun would go behind a cloud just as we climbed in the water. Not fun.
With the thought of getting out that day in our minds everyone seemed to be energized. We also dangled the idea of food in front of the boys as a carrot. Jeff had suggested Barros Pizza and so we all thought of what kind of pizza we’d be ordering once we were finished.
Our bodies were scraped and bruised and our muscles and joints were sore but we knew if we could keep going it would be over soon.
I think I had the record for the most slips and falls on this trip. Whether it was in the water or rock hopping or climbing; on dry ground or wet I seemed to find a way to slip. Sometimes I fell and sometimes I’d catch myself, both were painful. Either I’d fall and add to my scrapes and bruises or I’d balance myself at the expense of a tendon or muscle. This led to me thinking/muttering words that I don’t normally think or mutter and quickly begging forgiveness and saying a silent prayer that we would all be protected. There were several areas of the canyon that were dangerous and with one bad step you could easily become badly injured. It left me to wonder why our loving Bishop would recommend such trip to me. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was trying to kill me.
After a couple of hours of hiking we came to a waterfall and a 20 foot drop. At that point we each threw our packs down the falls and leapt into the cold water.
Jeff told us that once we reached the falls we were about an hour from the end. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel and made our way through the rest of the morning with only one break at the cliffs just outside of Gisela.
It was here that Mason and Cedar displayed the sunburns they had suffered due to their Speedo/underpants episode on day one…not pretty.
From there we happily bid farewell to the water and the canyon and began to hike towards the cars. Our steps hastened and I could almost taste the sausage and black olive pizza that awaited me. There was a couple of hurdles in our way though.
First we had to climb through barbwire fences and cross private land before hopping a fence and walking another couple of miles to the cars. The boys dropped their packs by the gate and ran ahead to get the cars.
Jeff, Zane, Marc and I stayed with the packs and were eventually picked up by Richard, a kind ranch hand who gave us and the packs a ride to the cars.
Our final test came when we had to dig Marc’s truck out of the sand of the wash we had parked in three days earlier. That was not fun but we got it done and were merrily on our way to Barros for a feast.
Both vehicles got there about the same time. Pizzas were ordered and I drank like five glasses of Power Aid before the pizzas even came. The food was delicious and everyone was smiling again.
I told the boys that I wanted them to remember that they can do hard things. That ahead of them in life were hard things, hard choices, hard times and trials that they’ve yet to imagine. I told them that I hoped when those times came if they ever had thoughts of just giving up that they’d remember this hike and how they’d finished it; that no matter how difficult things get that they know that they can do hard things.
I’m not sure you’ll ever get me to do that hike again but I’m grateful that we did it and for those who helped us through it and I know I’ll always remember it.