Hiking the Grand Canyon was my 3rd challenge of my 30th year. I didn’t get to do as much hiking as I’d hoped for to prepare, and Irene washed out our regular backpacking trip in the White Mountains. I was nervous about so many things—my knees, having enough water, the temperature, the terrain, heights, falling off into the great abyss. Luckily, I didn’t have a problem with anything I anticipated. The trail was easier than the trails I am used to in the White Mountains, but it was covered for good portions in small rocks that I termed “ankle biters.” It would be so easy to roll or sprain an ankle in the Grand Canyon. We had no ankle sprains and perfect weather—about 80-degrees during the day and we were able to hike in the shade for good portions of our trip.

The hike was not as hard as I’d expected. Down was harder for me than up. It took me eight hours to get down and eight more to get back up. I’m a much better hiker when it comes to going up. I felt like I was in good shape for the hike, but I was really sore after hiking down. The second day my whole body was stiff and my muscles ached, but not in the belly of the muscle like normal. They were sore on the ends near all the attachments, but it felt like muscle pain, not ligaments or tendons.

I was so sore by the end of the second day that I was a little nervous about hiking up. But once I got started I was fine. (That is true about so much in life.) I was sore after the hike out, but by the next morning, except for a lingering reminder in my claves, I felt like I hadn’t hiked at all.

In my challenges so far this year, I do feel really strong. I feel like I am stronger than I have been in years, but I also feel like after all the training I’ve been doing, I’m ready for a break. Good thing I have some time before my 4th and final challenge (which isn’t even set in stone yet, so I’m still taking ideas).

I also have felt that each challenge was easier than I expected. I feel like I need to push myself harder for the next one.