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The Grand Canyon Delivers a Lesson in Life.

Updated: Jun 25


The panoramic view from the south rim of the Grand Canyon is stunning! Visually, the reds, yellows, and various shades of brown blend gently as the shadows creep across a sea of rock outcroppings, steep spires, and deep crevices, all contrasted by the constant movement of the sky above. It's a visual symphony playing out in slow motion.

Standing there, one is forced to internalize the scene. The external view is too much to process all at once. Depending on the sun's angle, looking side to side, the panoramic view shapes the light differently. Your eyes reach straight across, and it is impossible to measure the distance. Looking down compounds the difficulty even further. The three-mile resthouse seems close enough to touch, and the vivid green oasis of Havasupai Gardens sits on the precipice of the inner gorge. At this depth, people are few and far between and are too small to see without binoculars.

Like looking at the swath of the Milky Way on a dark, starry night, the sensory overload defeats your sense of being. Like the sky above, the canyon renders your senses into oblivion. You take in as much as possible, with the understanding that you are in a place infinitely larger than you or anything you can imagine. That takes time to process.

That said, the average time a typical visitor spends looking at the Grand Canyon is 17 minutes. I, for one, can't process that!

This May, as I have for nearly two decades, I led a group of university students on an educational and hiking adventure through Northern Arizona and to the Grand Canyon. These students are from the PATH Program at the Center of Neurodiversity at Rowan University. Proudly neurodivergent, they are active advocates for their lives as autistic young adults. On this day, their mission was to follow our lead, expand their horizons, learn, laugh, test themselves physically, and apply their newfound knowledge to their life's journey.

Less than one percent of the 5,000,000 annual visitors to the Grand Canyon set foot on a trail below the rim. Though a pending storm chased us off the South Kaibab Trail, the Bright Angel Trail provided this team with an entree' into the 1% Club. While this makes them unique, there’s more that makes this endeavor truly extraordinary.

Hiking a steep mountain is hard work. Starting fresh, the first steps are invigorating. Nature is all around, with open space above and a clear view of the goal ahead. The summit has your name on it, and you attack it with the energy you saved for just this occasion. Inevitably, as you hike, the realities of the steep climb begin to creep in, the initial energy begins to dissipate, and the burning in your quads and calves begins to take its toll. Your legs begin to question your brain's choice to hike the mountain, But, with each step, you get to make a choice. Do you keep going up or acquiesce to your legs and turn around? Down typically being the easier direction and a choice you are free to make.

How is hiking the Grand Canyon like climbing that mountain? The process is the same, but the commitment is upside down. You start with the same invigorating energy and a degree of naivete at the trailhead. The first half of your hike is easygoing. Like most, you watch your footing as you descend, and conversation with fellow hikers comes easily. The morning shadows are long, and the cooler breeze of the rising air as the thermals push upward is pleasant. You watch the rim, but mostly to admire how the landscape and your viewpoints have changed. Soon, you achieve the goal you picked for yourself on the map. You're halfway home, so you think.

You begin your ascent toward the rim with less energy than when you started. You begin to experience the same feelings the mountain climber did on their way up. Your legs radio your brain about your choice, and with each step, you can hear your heart beating on your ear drums. You stare at the top of your boots and struggle to gather enough air to breathe. Conversation is out of the question. But, unlike the climber, you now face the full challenge of the commitment that you made when you first set foot on the trail.

The rim, once a landscape feature, now becomes a lifeline. It's no longer a choice but a necessity. You vaguely remember the sign at the trailhead, "Those who hike down must hike up, under their own power." With your guide's encouraging words, professional pacing, and assistance, you reappear safely at the trailhead, making your adventure a success. You now fully understand the sign, and the lesson you learned begins to set in.

Whether your hike in the Grand Canyon was an easy walk or one of the most physically challenging things you have ever done, the lesson is the same. Like life, the Grand Canyon holds you accountable to your commitments.

It is a life lesson that should not be forgotten!

Welcome to Divergent Adventures and Conquer The Canyon.


Click the image above (or here) to learn more about this fantastic Arizona and Grand Canyon adventure. There is no obligation, just information.

For more information about this blog, email Founder & CEO, Gene Taylor: Instagram | Facebook

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