To be in the canyon is spectacular; it’s far more than just rapids and water. As you float along the river the walls of the canyon grow in height on either side like a sunflower, shooting up as if to meet the sun, growing taller still as the days tick by.
The sun beats down on the river canyon relentlessly. Imagine standing in front of your oven with the door open and someone splashing you with ice cold water. Silt from the river is pervasive, affecting the water purifier, my kit and me. I rub my skin and little sausages of dirt roll up.
This adventure, paddling the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, took 16 days and traversed some 260 miles of the river’s course. We followed this up with a 2,500 mile bike trip along the Great Divide, a largely off-road mountain bike route that follows the spine of the Americas through the Rocky Mountains. It was the culmination of over 10 years of adventuring with my amazing wife. It was also our honeymoon.
This is the kind of thing you imagine when you think of adventures; however I can now say with conviction, adventures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Of course we said it wouldn’t change us, we’d keep doing all those fun things we used to do. Oh how we laugh now. I’m just pleased he’s learnt to sleep properly after 10 months of using his parents as a mattress and waking repeatedly through the night.
But look through a different lens and every day is filled with some kind of first. First time on a beach, standing on his own two legs. New sounds, new smells and new sights must sometimes be pretty overwhelming. First time running. First time kicking through piles of autumn leaves. First animal encounters. First scooter. First train ride, first plane ride. Noises he makes, words he says, everything explored with his mouth and occasionally belly laughs for no apparent (to me, anyway) reason. Where’s the food going to end up? How will I make sure I keep him alive for another day? The everyday terrors and adventures of bringing up children are very real.
We’re slowly progressing from the park and walks to the café, to time in the footpaths, fields and hills of our surroundings. Our perception of our little human is a little more robust, less fragile and as such we’re exploring where we can go and what we can do. The other day we took him for a walk up a proper hill, Benson Knott.
I have a hit list of hilltops we can see from our living room window, and we recently took on Whinfell Beacon. This is where perspective struck once again. What I perceived as a quick bash up a road and then a steep climb up a grassy slope, our little boy found to be an arduous never-ending hardtop to the horizon, followed by nasty, windy buffeting exposure. Poor little man fell over a good few times on the road and scuffed his hands, before finally approving of a shoulder ride to the car. Seeing it through his eyes made me realise we’ll need to realign our perspective.