A Writer Returns to the Grand Canyon, This Time With His Mother’s Ashes

I’M HAUNTED BY my own recklessness as I pull on a base layer and a flannel in the slowly illuminating dark. It’s dawn on a blustery January morning in Williams, Ariz., and after I cut the tags off my hiking pack, I load it up with microspikes, trail maps, a compass and a first-aid kit — like a guy who knows what he’s doing.

Passing, that is.

I’m not a hiker, not really. At the REI in Los Angeles earlier in the week, stocking up on cold-weather gear, I told the cashier where I was headed. “The Grand Canyon? In January?” she asked. “Brave man.” She was surprised, but being a beginner has never stopped me from risking my body before.

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