My throat tightened first, then mist filled my eyes, clouding my vision. Soon, the first drop trickled down the crease of my nose, then a second. What’s wrong with me — this place is stunning — why get all emotional? As my gaze traced a path up towering sandstone cliffs streaked with black stripes, reaching into the bright cyan sky then plunging down into the water, the torrent from my eyes was unstoppable. Visions of my grandmother, aunt, and stepmom and dad all streamed through my mind, a desert flash flood of emotion.
Struggling to compose myself, I realized I was not alone. I had been paddling off the front of the group, lost in my thoughts, pushing and pulling with purpose. Sitting silently, I realized I had company.