A few weeks ago, I completed my greatest adventure to date. I went rafting for 7 days down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. On Day 8, I hiked up Bright Angel Trail. Here’s what I wrote the day after completing the hike to the top of the Grand Canyon.
After a 7-day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, I hiked up 7.8 miles over 4,600 feet of elevation. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. To spend 7 days down in the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River on a raft — with no Internet or phone — has been awesome. This has been my greatest adventure in life thus far.
The views are so impressive down in the Canyon. The removal of life’s noise and clutter has been special. Sleeping on the river shore every evening without a tent just looking at the stars, like they are described in the Bible, strengthened my faith. I have never seen the moon so bright.
The rapids are awesome. The great guides we had made it very safe and enjoyable. We washed clothes in the river and bathed in the river. I never dreamed I would bathe in 50-degree water, but you adapt to your surroundings.
This has been a positive, life-changing event for me as I approach 61 years old in May. Our planet is so beautiful and worth saving. Enjoy this photo grid of daily rafting, hiking and camping. We worked as a team setting up and breaking down our campsite daily. Awesome experience!!!”
Now that I have had a few weeks to reflect, I realized this trip was incredible in many ways.
I was very anxious before the trip; I almost backed out at the last minute. My anxiety was high. The thought of no phone, Internet or contact with the outside world had my nervousness on high alert.
I kept thinking, “What if I have a panic attack out there?” Fear was running high, but as I always tell everyone and myself, I had to “fight through the fear.”
My nervousness made me angry for a moment. I was tired of the effects of childhood sexual abuse still impacting me — the anxiety, and imaginary fear creeping into my life.
Fortunately for me, with great therapy and hard work using what I have learned over the years and helping others by sharing my journey, I knew I could fight through the fear and anxiety.
The first night on the river at our campsite I was a little anxious, but as I set up my cot and sleeping bag on the river bank, I felt a calmness coming over me. I was not going to use a tent. I always dreamed of sleeping outdoors without a tent. The fact that I knew the people I was with — they were my classmates from the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Class of 2015 that had become my friends — calmed me down.
The first night on my cot and looking up at the sky, I thought I was in a planetarium. I have never seen so many stars and the moon so bright. The moon’s light was so intense when it came over the mountains that I had to sleep with my back to it.
Every day the trip got better. The views were stunning, and the daily hikes were breathtaking and great exercise. I was happy that I had trained for 5 months hiking, lifting weights and doing core exercises. It really made a difference.
I enjoyed having no access to a phone, the Internet or the news. I loved being completely disconnected from life’s noise. Washing my clothes and bathing in the cold Colorado River was enjoyable. I felt free from my childhood trauma in a way I have never experienced before in my life. I was just free to enjoy nature, be with my friends and talk to God.
Early in the morning on Day 8, we started our hike up Bright Angel Trail. This would be a 7.8-mile climb up 4,600 feet of elevation. I didn’t get anxious because I had trained properly, and the rafting trip gave me a sense of peace.
But on the way up the trail, I started to get slightly homesick. I missed my wife, kids and friends. Still, I really wasn’t ready to reconnect to the world. As I hiked up the trail cheering for my fellow hikers and hearing them cheering for me to finish strong, I was thinking, “How do I keep this feeling when I return and get reconnected?” I have some ideas that I will share with you soon — if they work.
One thing motivated me throughout the Colorado River trip and the hike up Bright Angel Trail. That motivating factor was letting other childhood sexual abuse and trauma survivors know that we can do some incredible things and enjoy life.
I shot some great pictures and videos with my iPhone in a waterproof case. Please enjoy some pictures and YouTube videos of the 7 days of rafting and the hike up Bright Angel Trail.
Click here for video of the 7-day rafting trip.
Click here for video of the hike up Bright Angel Trail.
If you ever take a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, use Rivers and Oceans and ask for Robbie. Tell him I sent you. They are the best!
Life is awesome. LIVE IT!