This post was originally published on the Keen Footwear Blog on August 25, 2015.
By Casey Sheahan
Late in the winter sometime around 1980 when I was about 25, two friends and I hiked across the Grand Canyon, from South Rim to North, with light cross-country racing skis strapped on our packs. The air was warm that first night as we pitched our tent under clear skies near Phantom Ranch, by the Colorado River.
Pounding rain swept through a few hours later, and by morning, Bright Angel Creek was swollen and turbid. We shouldered packs and headed up the trail towards the North Rim, moving through nearly two billion years of geologic history. Rain turned to snow as we gained altitude, passing into the Navajo Sandstone formation. A few hours later we were gliding on skis above the North Rim, through a hushed forest of old-growth ponderosa pine.
As we gain the perspective that time provides on intense, immersive experiences, we’re given to pondering the whys and wherefores. In the decades since that trip, I’ve realized that what made those special moments possible, more than anything else, was the fact that the landscape was accessible—intact and protected—to a trio of dreamy young adventurers, and anyone else seeking recreation and renewal.
I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of my love for the outdoors, working with companies like Patagonia and Keen, which share my belief that access to wild places is foundational nourishment for the human spirit—a belief fed and watered largely by experiences like that winter Grand Canyon adventure.