It's incredible what being on the trail can do for your soul. Being disconnected from all of life's distractions...just you and the wild outdoors. You quickly realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things- how small your day to day worries are. You begin to appreciate little things like flushing toilets and a daily shower.
We were on the road for 28 days, leaving Charlotte the day after what would have been my last day of teaching for the year. When I left the classroom to handle my panic attacks a month before, I was still planning to return in August and now that it was June I was still sure I'd be ready after a few months of hard work with my doctors. This trip was the perfect way to reflect and figure it all out though.
Exploring the American West was something I'd always dreamed of doing. I'd only seen the Grand Canyon from books and television and my trip research. The hike below the rim scared me- I wasn't sure I could handle the climb back up- but I knew I had to try. And I'm so glad I did.
The Grand Canyon taught me to Keep Hiking. Going down the South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge was simple enough. But I knew going up would be a challenge for me. And it was. I remember stopping at the first switchback, looking up at the rim and telling my husband "I can't do this." He told me I could because I had to. I felt that familiar feeling of a panic attack coming on. That's the last thing I needed. I had done a lot of work in the last month to manage the symptoms- I closed my eyes and took a few deep breathes and told myself I could Keep Hiking. And that's what I did. Each time I got overwhelmed and thought I couldn't do it- I stopped and pulled myself together. Eventually I made it to the top...And I felt like a badass.
This was the single most important moment of that trip. No matter how tough things got on trails in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Badlands... I thought back to that moment along the South Kaibab Trail when I overcame the obstacle of my anxiety. There were lots of moments I wanted to give up...but I kept hiking. And it was always worth it.
About the Author: Grace Haag is the Founder & Creative Director of Sapphire Trail.