Don’t let the title fool you! It’s been over two years since I last had a hangover. That night, I promised myself it would be the last one that I would ever have. Little did I know, that hiking in Sedona, Arizona, would provide a hangover of its very own.
It was 2018 and I was celebrating my 38th brithday, I was just having fun by American standards. Well, the next day I found myself staring into the toilet asking myself, “what the fuck are you doing Ryan?” Two days later after it had subsided, I vowed never to drink that much again. Looking back, I haven’t, but it’s been a slow and steady decline in my drinking habits since that point.
I gave up drinking for just over 100 days during the summer of 2019. Why? I had been going through some personal things at the time. I decided to never hide behind a substance, ever again.
It was my third or fourth day in Sedona, Arizona and I found myself hiking once again. There was a trail marked on the map that led to the left, and although there were some downed logs blocking its way, I bypassed them. As I began making my way up to what had been named “Steamboat Rock”, the trail began to get dicey. Not only that, but the sun was beginning to go down and I had a sound healing session to attend. Knowing my limits (I still work on them today), I decided to turn around and head back towards my truck.
Descending down the smooth sandy red rocks, I was surprised to meet another adventurer who had also bypassed the logs. We chatted a bit, and he mentioned a trail across the way named, “hangover trail.” He highly recommended it for not only its view, but for its slight difficulty as well. It didn’t take much to sell me on it.
I made my way out on a late Sunday morning, as the sun was beginning to heat up the Arizona sky. At the advice of others on my All Trails App, I decided to hike the trail counter clock-wise. The trail meandered its way through the Coconino National forest, at times, leaving very little room for error. I think it was just over an hour in, when I had made it up to the first overlook. Sitting there, I took in the scenary, unaware of the view that awaited me just a little while later.
I scrambled up a pretty steep incline and continued along the western side of the trail. At points I’d find myself in awe of not only the rock formations, but of the mountain bikers who were bravely cycling their way by. These guys were hardcore! Eventually I would come to another opening, that overlooked the town of Sedona from above.
As I sat atop the vista (pictured in the header), I found myself completely losing myself in the present moment. Something interesting happens when I find myself in these situations. I don’t want to leave! I want to stay connected to the feelings that are being presented.
These are feelings that no amount of alcohol, could ever produce.
Eventually a larger group would make there way up the mountainside, and I would find it time to reluctantly move on. As I made my way down the backside of the trail, I couldn’t stop thinking that I was walking on the moon. I was bouncing across the rocks with-out a worry in the world. I later would check my phone to see of my where-abouts, and that’s when I had learned about the death of Kobe Bryant. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve always despised the NBA, but it still turned out to be a rather somber moment. I then had learned about his daughter and the 7 others that perished as well.
It sort of put life into perspective. The thought crossed my mind, “how quickly all this beauty can be taken away!”
I would enjoy hiking what remained of the trail, but there always comes a point when a hiker has had enough. Maybe I’m making a generalized statement here, but I knew my body was starting to wind own. The site of the parking lot in the distance, provided some welcomed relief. The end of my day would conclude at a brewery with some newly met friends.
These days I’ve completely shifted my relationship to alcohol. No longer do I drink to numb out, no longer do I drink to forget, no longer do I drink with-out limits. This day I would indulge in two beers as a celebration of life.
The day after I was hungover all-right, but this hangover had nothing to do with alcohol. It had to do with the freedom of living. The freedom of hiking, in Sedona, Arizona.
To learn more about my initial days in Sedona, check my blog post entitled: Sleeping with Sedona.