I wonder if the thermometer hanging haphazardly on the makeshift outhouse is broken because 105? Fahrenheit does not sound hot enough. Jotting down the time and temperature, my dad and I continue our downward trek into the heart of the Grand Canyon. We have been hiking under the oppression of the midday Arizona sun for nearly five hours now, and our surroundings are beginning to change from sheer cliff walls to vibrant cacti. The trail has started to level out, and after a nearly 4500 foot descent, our knees are thanking us. Nonetheless, we are out of breath, low on water, and unimaginably sore. Even on relatively flat ground, the switchbacks have not ceased as we weave our way in and out of vegetation and rock formations. The destination, Indian Gardens, finally comes into view. The shade envelopes us as my dad and I finally reach the oasis. I feel as if we have been transported from the middle of Arizona to a lush forest; birds are chirping, and a stream is gurgling in the distance. I hobble to the water, unsure if I am hallucinating or not, and rip my hiking boots and socks off. As I dunk my blistered feet into the ice cold stream, all of the pain seems to melt away. Sitting in the glorious shade of a desert oasis while fresh water laps around my ankles, I listen to the silence and realize that I would not want to be anywhere else in this moment. No matter the pain or exhaustion that is thrown my way, the difficult roads alway lead me to the most blissful of moments.
I have never been much of a city person; the towering buildings and rush hour traffic found in concrete jungles cause me more anxiety than awe. Growing up, I often went on fishing and camping trips with my dad, but it was not until this trip to Arizona that I have found a love for hiking. Hiking may sound terribly boring to some people because it is simply walking. However, coming from a society that uses cars as the primary method of transportation, I always feel a great sense of pride when I allow my feet to carry me to beautiful places. Carrying pounds of gear on your back and climbing literal mountains is very strenuous, but the view is always worth it. With this in mind, it is time to keep moving.
As I slide my boots and socks back on, swallow the last on my peanut butter crackers, and shoulder my backpack, I glance up at the red rock walls towering around me. I have always lived by the saying, “the most difficult roads often lead to the most beautiful destinations,” and I can finally say that I truly understand this message. One cannot feel happiness without knowing pain and suffering. This idea helps me conquer obstacles in my everyday life because I have the understanding that difficult circumstances are simply making way for better times. So, feeling refreshed with my dad by my side, I glance back and say my final goodbye to the luxury of shade. Turning around, I look up at the 4500 feet of elevation before me. I know it is going to be an uphill battle, but I imagine the view from the top and know it will be worth it. Exhaling, I take a step forward.