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By Donna Loza, LCPC, CADC, CODP I

The Grand Canyon is a once in a lifetime experience, full of breathtaking views wherever you look.  The colors of the rocks are simply stunning from indian red, light coral, salmon, black, chili pepper and multiple shades of brown.  The canyon is considered one of the seventh wonders of the world and is roughly 277 miles long and ten miles wide.

              A friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to drive there and see the Grant Canyon in all its glory.  It was the first time as an adult to take a cross country drive without my parents and I was up for the challenge.  Once there, I scoped out the area, took a ton of photos of the views of the rock formations.  I had heard that there was this trail, called Bright Angel Trail,  we could hike down to the bottom of the canyon.  It was long and hard and therefore supplies were needed.  I remember packing water, sunscreen, hat, granola bars and I believe one sandwich for the whole trip down and back up again.  In my naiveness, I had thought that was all I needed, in hindsight, one needs to pack a little more.

              Off we went down the Bright Angel Trail with a small backpack.  As I walked downhill, I began to take in the grandeur of the canyon, the steep slopes, dusty trails that leave an orange residue on your shoes, ankles and clothes.  I observed others as they were walking back up. They looked tired, worn out, and very sweaty – some happy to be back up, with smiles on their faces for a job well done.  As I continued to walk down the trail, I would overhear bits and pieces of conversations, one being that there were donkeys that could be used to help if walking became too much.  There was even a conversation that a helicopter was available if someone down below needed to be rescued.  My mind began to be concerned and questioned if I was doing the right thing.  I reassured myself that going down was definitely the easiest part of the journey.

              Halfway down, the sun beating down hard, I made sure to drink plenty of water and thankfully there was a watering station along  the way to help replenish what was in my bottle.  Unfortunately, there were no food stations along the way.  By the time I got to the bottom, my sandwich and couple of granola bars had been eaten.  I took in the extraordinary views of the canyon from below and then decided it was time to climb up.

              As I began to walk up the trail, I noticed my legs were cramping up, so I took time to drink more water as the sun was just beating down on me.  My mind began to get scared, “what if I can’t make it?” I told myself to not look up as to somehow keep the descent upwards out of my mind and focus on one step at a time.  I began to get weary, remembering that I could always find a donkey or worst-case scenario, a helicopter would rescue me.  I stay focused on the climb, my friend who was with me started to get cranky because I was falling behind, I couldn’t keep up.  I began to slow down and found myself getting weak.  I had already finished the last granola bar.

              I found myself leaning up against a rock. I dusty, sweaty, hungry, and wanted to sleep.  I needed a break; I could not make this climb on my own.  The friend I was with, was deeply frustrated with me and even angry.  I couldn’t listen, I was too exhausted.  I remember telling my friend, to go ahead and leave me and I would find a way to get to the top.  I laid down on the rock, took in a deep breath, and closed my eyes.

              I leaned into my faith for help.  I remember saying a prayer to God, “Lord, I can’t do this anymore, I need your help.”

              I don’t remember how much time passed, maybe several minutes or an hours, when I overheard a family near me.  It was a husband-and-wife team with their kids, assessing me, I could hear them speak, “She is still breathing, just tired.”  I then heard the husband say, “I’ll take the kids and meet you both up at the top.”  Then the wife said, “she just needs some food, and I will walk up with her.”

              This woman took out this large, duffle bag of a backpack, laid it out on the ground and opened it up to show me how a true experienced hiker prepares.  At that moment, she made me a full chicken breast sandwich with mayo and other fixings.  She sat with me, asked me who I was and provided me with such care, I knew she was a woman of faith.  She told me she would walk with me till we got to the top, as long as it takes.  She allowed me to lean on her when I was weak.

              In my weakness, I asked for His strength, and He provided me with what I needed.  Rather than leaning on myself, I leaned into faith.  Psalm 138:1 ESV “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”  If you need support in your daily life and in need of Christian counseling, we here at Midwest Center for Hope & Healing, offer you a chance to explore your faith and find ways to be encouraged that you are not alone in your struggles.