Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Go Farther: Lessons from the Grand Canyon

Have you heard the story about a little boy and his father who were playing football together? The son was getting ready to throw the football to his father when the boy shouted, “Go farther, Daddy!”

Children sometimes overestimate their abilities, but I think adults tend to do the opposite. We cheat ourselves into believing, “It’s too hard; I can’t do it,” and opt to sit on the sidelines instead of tackling challenges that seem larger-than-life.

My brother and I just returned from hiking Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon. The trip taught me a few things about pushing limits.  

You can go farther than you think you can.

As I trained for this trip over several months, I took frequent 2-4 mile rucks around my neighborhood with my 20-pound backpack. I hoped that this steady practice plus a dose of adrenaline would be enough to help me hike down the canyon to Havasu Falls. (The trail is supposedly 8 miles down to the Indian village and another 2 miles to the campground. It’s really more like 11 miles total, according to my brother’s GPS.)

What I never expected to do was hike out 11 miles the next day. My plan was to get to the village early and catch a helicopter ride out.

However, when we arrived, we learned that the helicopter sign-up didn’t open until 6 a.m., and the first flights didn’t take off until 10 a.m. – and there really was no guarantee you would get on board.

That left us with two options. Sit in the hot village for four hours waiting for the helicopter and risk having to hike out in the heat of the day if we didn’t get a flight; or just hike out.

We opted to hike out for a total of 22 miles in 2 days. 

You can push yourself harder than you trained.

Not only can you go farther, but you can also push yourself harder. Both down and up, my brother and I hiked the trail in 4 1/2 hours. The first day, we started hiking around 5:30 a.m., and the next day, we started at 4:20 a.m. Both days, we woke up around 3 a.m.


You are tired. You are sore. You are beat. You just put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving.

But it is so worth it.

The winding, steep mountain trail leading back up the canyon wall to the parking area was 1.5 miles high. Coming down was slippery; going up was the ultimate cardio workout.

You have to keep a good attitude, and humor helps. Along the path, my brother joked, “Pain means you’re alive.”

Thanks, Dave. Yep, I’m still alive.

The bottom line is that you can do all things through Christ. He is our source of strength.
My favorite verse is Isaiah 40:31 which says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Ask yourself what areas in your life could use a good stretching. And if you're looking for an adventure, may I recommend Havasu Falls?