I have been asked to create an inspirational story and a two-page magazine spread using InDesign software for a church magazine such as the Ensign or New Era. I chose to write to an audience of youth, ages 10 to 24. The story gives personal application to principles found in the “For The Strength of Youth” booklet distributed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The following is a draft of my story, supporting images for the article, and a design sketch.
Our family has been to Grand Canyon National Park about half a dozen times, but we’ve never strayed too far from the rim because our children were too young, until our most recent visit. There are many paths down the canyon available for hikers of all levels of experience. Located near the visitor center is a pavilion with signs explaining the various trails, their difficulty and recommended provisions. In addition, strong caution is given against trying to complete long, strenuous hikes in one day. Since it was early spring and there was still ice on the trails, clampons (shoe spikes) were suggested for some paths so that hikers would not loose their traction. Considering all the warning signs and the activity level of our group, we chose to hike to a point on the South Kaibab Trail called Cedar Ridge. The course was only three miles, round-trip, but the vertical drop was nearly 1,200 feet. We laced up our shoes, and donned our backpacks loaded with sports drinks, water and trail mix – we felt prepared for the journey.
The decent started quickly with switchbacks heading down the face of the canyon wall. Lucky for us the warm temperatures had melted most of the snow and ice, and the trail was easy to manage, especially downhill. Occasionally one of us would slide in the loose dirt, but it wasn’t a big deal. Our ten year-old son, Jimmy, kept bounding ahead out of our sight despite our reminding him to stay where we could see him. The weather was perfect—not too hot, not too cold. The view was spectacular, and we were enjoying some physical activity as a family. In no time at all it seemed, we had reached Ooh-Aah Point, a little more than half way to our turn-around point. After a little rest and refreshments we kept going deeper into the canyon.
The day was getting a little warm as it approached noon. I was thankful I had left my jacket in the car. My shoes and pant legs were covered in loose red dirt from the trail. The hike was going great, and everyone was having a good time. As I kept walking down the trail, the thought of having to walk back up to the trailhead entered my mind, but I just dismissed it thinking, “How bad could it be?” Finally we made it to Cedar Ridge; the one-and-a-half mile downhill trek had only taken about 50 minutes. We posed for some pictures, used the restroom and had some more trail mix before beginning the dreaded climb back up to our original elevation of 7,260 feet.
It didn’t take long before my muscles were protesting and my breathing was heavy. I kept reminding myself to be slow and steady. Jimmy was now the last person in the pack, I hung back with him and my 13-year-old daughter, Isabelle. We had to stop often to catch our breath and quench our thirst. My husband, Mark, and my 12-year-old daughter, Bailey, had gone on ahead. The family hike that was so fun, was becoming miserable. At one point I asked Isabelle, “When you were walking down, did you ever think it would be this difficult going back up?” Her hasty reply was a resounding, “No!” We were both surprised with how challenging it had become to recover from our journey down the path; going back up was infinitely more difficult that we had imagined. My mind went to a passage in “For The Strength of Youth,” which reads, “Some people knowingly break God’s commandments, planning to repent later…” I’m not saying that hiking is a sin, but the tough journey uphill felt like the price we had to pay for the path we’d taken earlier. We didn’t think it would be so hard to return to our starting point. Had we realized the determination and stamina required, we may have turned around at Ooh-Ahh point or never started at all.
I’m happy to say we didn’t give up, and we kept rising to the top one step at a time, ever thankful for the bodies given to us by our creator. I’m proud of our efforts and endurance. Stepping off the trail at the top was exhilarating and empowering. We did it! When we are required to work hard to overcome our transgressions, we “will know for (ourselves) the power of the Atonement and the love God has for (us). (We) will feel the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, which will bring (us) great strength, and (we) will become more like him.”
Relevant Scriptures: Doctrine & Covenants 88:86, and Alma 36:22
 For The Strength of Youth, p. 29.