My eyes traced the trail ahead of me until it was reduced to the size of a thread as my dad and I approached the South Rim trailhead. We woke up early, ambitious and ready to embark on our hike. Both of us knew the challenge that lay ahead, but we were excited to take it on and we needed to take a break from our daily routines in order to immerse ourselves in nature, away from the influence of the busy modern world. Although our hiking backpacks were weighed down with a tent and a full pouch of food, the first day of hiking the trail was the easiest because the trail went downhill and we had not yet reached the most difficult section of the trail.
On the second day, the first challenge of our hike came sooner than expected from a small, freezing, seasonal stream which crossed the trail. It was about 20 feet wide and my father and I had to take off our boots to walk across the slippery rocks in the fast-moving stream. To add to this challenge, there was a small waterfall about 15 feet away from our crossing point, and we had nothing to hold on to. When I crossed the stream, I froze in fear of slipping in the middle of the stream. I knew I had to keep going, despite my fear of slipping, or else my freezing feet would give out and I would fall into the waterfall below so I pushed past my nerves and I made it to the other side of the stream. Around mid-afternoon, we arrived at the Cottonwood campground, a primitive campground 2/3 of the way along the 23-mile trail across the canyon and set up camp.
The real challenge of this hike came on our last day. We woke up at sunrise and we packed our gear in preparation for the third and last day of our Grand Canyon hike. As the park rangers say, who goes down must come up and today was the day my father and I would reach the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I knew that today would be the hardest day of our hike because we had to walk eight miles on a steep, upward incline to reach the north rim. This required both physical strength and the ability to stay focused on my goal as my legs were aching from the first two days of the hike.
The third day of hiking seemed to drag on (an uphill battle both literally and metaphorically). As we neared the top of the rim, every coming switchback appeared to be the last until we reached the top of the tortuous trail and realized that there was another switchback waiting right behind it. Finally, after countless switchbacks, my dad and I saw the north rim entrance to the trail. We made it! When I looked back at the canyon which I had hiked, my perception of the trail changed from a straight path to a thin line which disappeared in the distance only leaving the view of the vast canyon.
The Grand Canyon has taught me that I can achieve any large goal when I split it up into smaller, more manageable goals. A 23-mile hike can be instead thought of as three-day-long 8-mile hikes. Looking at the Grand Canyon from the top of each rim, it looks too big to hike, but when you are hiking the trail, the goal of finishing suddenly becomes tangible by taking one step at a time.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.