The time had come for the canyon trip that I had heard so much about…….and I was excited. The days of talking about food and whether to go with a tarp or a tent and other planning details were ending; and the miles of walking was soon to begin. The team was composed of guys from the current training school class and some others who desired to join our band of misfit pilgrims. Larry and his son Arum would be guiding us for the next 5 days, having traveled this route many times before, apparently with great success as they were still around to do so this time. The area we hiked through was a slot canyon – roughly about 45 miles long. The first full day was a 13 mile push to get through a section known as Buckskin Gulch, a place where you don’t want to be if it’s raining anywhere upstream.
I’ve always loved being outdoors – for as long as I can remember something has always drawn me to nature. Something happens when I enter into a space that hasn’t been manipulated like most of the world we live in. I think there’s something pre-wired in us that gets turned on when we step out into the raw landscape that God’s designed. Everything seems to become more clear…..images, sounds, colors, smells and for me thoughts….The world with fewer roads, fewer people and less ways to connect lets my mind rest. I found myself referring to the time in the canyon as a “de-cluttering reset”, a place where I didn’t worry about the details but panned out and got a glimpse of the big picture.
The trail presents some interesting challenges, slightly different for each of us. The obvious things of course, hiking with a 50lb pack, falling, constantly being wet due to river crossings, quicksand, animals, etc….but for others the fear was less physical and more personal. I found myself walking each section with something on my mind, even if that something was to try to walk peacefully and clearly. I prayed, I audibly spoke to God in a very real and free way. I listened, I would walk for miles with nothing on and no one around, just listening. I walked with brothers who shared their hearts, the things they longed for and things they feared. I wrote some notes down, nothing poetic or worth publishing; mainly things God put on my heart and some answers to prayer. Yes the canyon was a place where I went to walk and talk with God and my fellow friends and brothers. I had expected it to be an epic trip…..and it was……..