It’s balmy in the canyon, warm enough that I take off my sleeping socks, and not a single mouse runs over my face. Incredible. At one point about ten raindrops fall, and I move everything inside the dripline of my tarp in anticipation, but then the storm has passed. I wake too early and stare at the dark, letting my mind wander, until it’s time to get up. We’re stuffing our things away as the sun rises somewhere beyond the canyon walls, setting the western cliffs on fire.
Fourteen miles to the south rim of the grand canyon today. And something like five thousand feet of elevation gain. I feel good, my blisters feel good, pain is at an all time low. The canyon smells like tamarisk and huge cottonwoods sway green over the creek. At Phantom Ranch I drink iced tea and we write post cards to our friends. And then, the climb. We haven’t had any climbs, really, on this hike so far. Just the endless flat of the Kaibab plateau. I’d almost forgotten how climbs make me feel. They make me feel GREAT. I put in my headphones and lean into the true chaos of my spotify shuffle, let the bright sun and the endorphins carry me away. The world disappears and there is just the trail, each tall stone step or stretch of dusty red path. I become a raven, flying above a tributary of the Colorado river. Below me are a hundred realities, nested into each other like russian dolls. I construct wonderful, pleasurable scenarios in my head and replay them over and over, changing small details. I don’t feel an ounce of pain. Endorphins are my favorite drug and I am so fucking high right now.
In the afternoon we reach the south rim. We are panting, soaked with sweat, freezinghot. It’s warmer here than the north rim- in the fifties maybe? A free shuttle takes us to the burger restaurant, where we meet a handful of other AZT hikers, our first sightings. Most everyone started a week or two before us- we’re at the tail end so we won’t see many people. I inhale my burger and salad without tasting them, buy more snacks at the general store. Another shuttle to Tusayan, where the less pricey motels are. We crank the heat, shower and scrub the dirt away. I eat rice chex in almond milk in bed. Matthew’s only entertainment on this hike is a handful of crosswords, and he asks us for clues. We tend to our blisters. Tomorrow is a zero day- recovery time!
I’m using this AZT blog to raise funds for Trans Queer Pueblo, a rad org that provides funds to trans and queer people seeking asylum and/or in immigration detention along the US/Mexico border. Here is the fundraiser- it was at about $9k when I first posted it, let’s see if we can reach their $15k goal! For every $150 raised, I’ll post another blog post. And thank you!