Monday, February 26, 2024

Thanksgiving hiking

Several years ago when we celebrated Thanksgiving weekend with our dear friends, the Calverts, they taught me a term I hadn't heard before. 

"Green Friday," Allen said. "Instead of Black Friday where people shop, we celebrate Green Friday where we like to get out in nature." 

I'd never heard of anything more lovely in all my life, so we adopted that tradition right then and there, and have celebrated Green Friday ever since.

This year for Green Friday, we hiked to the Arizona hot springs. We'd done GoldStrike Canyon several times and had enjoyed those hot springs before, but had never gone down to the other side of the river. 

At one point, Eliza was having a difficult time... maybe she had tripped?... but she just could not get control of her emotions. Minute after minute after minute she cried and cried, occasionally taking a few deep breaths, but then falling apart all over again when a tiny pebble would enter her shoe, or the tiny paper cut on her thumb from three days ago would start stinging. Eventually, we stopped walking and I had her sit next to me on a giant rock and place her hand on its cool surface.

"Go ahead and cry," I said soothingly. I mean, she already was, but she was trying to resist it which always makes it worse. I've found it's better to just have the sadness, so giving her permission seems to be a better move for her. "Do you feel how cold this rock is?" I asked. I wanted to help her get back into the present, because that seems to work miracles for her little nervous system. She nodded and began to calm down.

"Sometimes when I'm feeling really uncomfortable inside, I like to sit on the earth and just feel it, you know?" I continued. "I'll put my hand on a rock like this and move my hand back and forth to feel all the grooves- some rocks are smooth and some are rough. What would you say this one is?"

"Smooth," she said as her sobbing hiccups quieted a bit. 

"Yeah, I think so, too.  The earth is so amazing- I don't understand how, but its energy helps calm me down when I listen to it, when I touch it, when I breathe it. Close your eyes, put your hand on your rock, take a deep breath, and feel all of that energy."

Timothy only lasted about five seconds into the silence that followed before he burst out laughing. "Mom! What are you talking about!?"

"Hey! Don't make fun of it until you try it!" I said, kicking some dirt in his direction and patting the rock beside me. 

He came and sat next to me and playfully mocked the whole experience like you might imagine a 10-year-old boy would. Before long, Eliza was in giggles - tears still stuck to her cheeks - but the whole atmosphere had changed. Maybe it was Timothy's humor that helped her feel better, and maybe it was the earth.

Before too long, we made it to the hot springs. I didn't get any pictures of them, it turns out. Probably because they were quite filled with people and I didn't think any of the strangers would enjoy being in one of my pictures. (Especially the two old, naked guys 😳)

Brian and I are not big fans of sitting in hot tubs with strangers, so we kept hiking through the hot springs and down the creek a little more to the Colorado River. 

And, soon enough, the teenagers followed.

And then the littler kids.

We sat on the shoreline and pulled out our packed lunches while Timothy and David braved the cold of the Colorado.

And eventually turned around and hiked back out.

 In the end I decided that, while this was beautiful, I prefer Gold Strike Canyon overall. This hike was a little too 'pebbly' and open for me. I prefer a little more climbing, a little more shade, and a little less slipping. But it was worth it, and I have no doubt that we will go again.

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