Nothing can prepare you for the magnificence of the Grand Canyon. With every stride and bend in the trail you are in awe of the natural wonder of what has been created. On October 7th, 2014 a group of friends and I left the south rim of the Grand Canyon on an epic journey, one of which to raise awareness of Epilepsy, and the other, to test our personal strength and stamina.
Our alarms go off at 4:30 a.m. With a hot breakfast in our bellies and hiking boots on, nothing could hold us back. We all gather in the lobby of our hotel and I know it is going to be a great day when I hear my Canyon theme song playing, 'The Best Day of my Life'. With a big smile and a jig in the lobby, I look at Chelsea, "Are you ready?" I ask; she has an even bigger smile on her face. Grand Canyon, here we come!!
Four and half hours, and an infinite number of breathtaking views later, we reach the bottom of the majestic Canyon. We have a lovely picnic, dip our toes in the small, cool creek and have a rest. Refreshed, we lace up our boots and begin our journey to return to the summit. Equally excited to meet our goal of reaching the pinnacle before night fall, we know it is within our reach.
Stopping occasionally for a water break and experiencing the silence and grandeur of our surroundings, I begin to notice something isn't quite right. On occasion, I misstep or stumble. Not wanting to worry my teammates, Tracey, Chelsea, and I continue. Our accent was becoming steeper with every switchback, my stumbling becomes more frequent and finally I tell my friends that something is wrong; my blood sugar has been dropping for some time and I am beginning to feel ill and light headed. We check our rations and Chelsea discovers that she has a small supply of M&Ms in her trail mix. "Great, a sugar boost...." Chelsea begins collecting the small, round, colourful 'life-savers' out of her trail mix and feeds me small handfuls of five or six M&Ms every thirty to forty feet along the trail (I only really like the blue ones, but at this point, beggars can't be choosers and that joke doesn't reeeeally amuse my trail companions). At some points I am so lightheaded that I am on my hands and knees crawling along the trail, while Tracey protects me from falling over the ledge, and Chelsea walks a few feet in front of me to guide me with her footsteps –true friends, we are adamant that we will reach the top together!
Now, we are in complete darkness ascending the gracious walls of the Grand Canyon, and throughout the darkness, Chelsea counts off the steps and Tracey and Ray encourage me. We are down to our last M&Ms when we reach the summit. We could not be more excited! We salute and bow to the Canyon, thanking it for allowing us to share in its beauty. Only now, my blood sugar takes a deep dive. Young Connor, who seems like a guardian angel in this moment, hands me a bag of M&Ms, another sugar rush... just enough to get back to the car and to the hotel for some food and much needed sleep.
So thank you M&M's for making this precious treat that doesn't melt in your hands (or your backpack as you trek through the 30 degree heat of the Grand Canyon). And thank you friends for graciously picking them out of your trail mix by only the light of your headlamps. The moral of our story? Never leave home without your M&Ms because you never know when they might save your life.