Mules Working in the Grand Canyon
Hiking down and up the Grand Canyon is not only thrilling, it’s a total sensory experience that any occupational therapist would want to share! The colorful scenery is visual candy! I spend much of my life reading books so having grandiose views is a therapeutic break for my eyes. I naturally moved my gaze back and forth between near vision (watching my feet so that I didn't trip) and far vision. This is great if you have challenges with binocular vision like I do. It was a living 3 D viewer! I love the smells, including mule dropping which are not nearly as bad as dog waste. Of course, the air also provides sensational olfactory stimulation, too! I love the taste of Arizona water. I filter the water I drink at home because I don’t like the taste, so I really appreciated my frequent gustatory hydration experiences on the trails. When not chatting with hubby and other trekkers, I loved the sounds of silence, occasionally interrupted by the auditory stimulation of running streams, the Colorado River and wildlife. Carrying a backpack provides that same proprioceptive stimulation to muscles and joints that therapists love to talk about. Fortunately, I only carried my clothing, snacks and water because the Phantom Ranch provided shelter and meals. I love not having to cook…..I had opportunities for tactile stimulation when I bonded with a resting mule and discovered how painful it is to accidentally touch a cactus! My vestibular system had a good work out with the ups and downs and turning around to take in the 360 degree views. Now let’s not forget about the interoception sensory system! It was very much on my mind as I thought about food, drinking, my aches and pains, respiration and needing an out house is.