When we were here on the north rim five years ago, I could not comprehend the magnitude of what I was seeing, nor could I relax and enjoy it. The girls were four and two, and I spent most of my time making sure someone had them firmly by the hand. That very week another family tragically lost their four year old daughter when she fell more than 400 feet from the rim trail. I did not sleep well the whole time we were there and I couldn't wait to leave.
But this time was different. From the moment I got my very first view of the south rim from the Bright Angel trailhead I was stunned and something felt new. We spent the day after our hike out just touring and enjoying the overlooks and this park that five short years ago held me in fear now felt like a sort of home the same way the rest of the desert southwest does. I don't want to over-spiritualize the experience, but I really think hiking down in and watching my kids travel expertly and safely with very little protective guidance beyond their own good sense and training was the thing that helped me make peace with one of the most amazing sights I will ever see.
This time I did not want to leave.