I took this trip with a little more intention and planning than the last, but I still can’t control the weather. The rain beats on the ground as I write this. I had everything planned, even payed to stay in a local inn ahead of time. I told people where I was going and packed accordingly. Two days before I left, the weather report called for a downpour, and snow! I took some more precautions and borrowed a better pair of boots from a friend.
I have always loved being outside. Ever since I was a child I clung to trees and played in the dirt. I crave the wind on my skin. This particular relationship, this exchange of energy and respect between me and the physical world, has made more sense to me than any other I’ve known.
I don’t think that I’m singular in this. It is within most humans – in children fascinated with bugs and leaves as they go for a walk. Their dirty hands and feet do not bother them. The rain falling on their t-shirts do not stop them from splashing in puddles.
In Zion National Park, I couldn’t have planned a day of splashing in puddles any better. Trees and brush, cleared of their leaves, dripping with water and clinging to mountain sides. As I entered, the majesty of the place was too much to engulf. It takes some time for it all to set in.
There is a visitor center no one occupies during the off season. I walked around to a breathtaking view of the Altar of Sacrifice, and the Temple of the Virgins. The Virgin River carved through the canyon, notably providing this name.
I let the sound of cars, their tires pulling up water resting in the road, rush past my ear. A little symphony. It is one of my favorite sounds.
At the first fork, you can either brave a highway drive to the Mt. Carmel tunnel, winding through switchbacks, or take a left through the steady scenic route. I decided to brave the switchbacks first.
The Canyon Overlook is on the route after the Mt. Carmel Tunnel when driving through Southern Zion. There’s every opportunity to stop at a turn out and snap a picture along the way. The tunnel is long and dark, but opens into the back canyon looking up toward Pine Creek Canyon and Zion Canyon.
The first turn out after the bridge will bring you to the entrance of the Canyon Overlook hike. The hike is a mile round trip. Chains run along the edge, a rail guard and a little bridge to cross over. It’s not the best if you’re afraid of heights. There are many rocks to climb on if you want to get a better vantage point at the top.
The emerald pools advance through three different check points on the trail. The first, I completed in an hour, only because I wanted to take my time to look through the valley as I ascended. It is a paved road through the first part, trees create a canopy over the path.
Weeping Rock is the entrance point to the Observation Point trail. Hiking along ridgelines and standing along sweeping canyon walls, Observation Point carries the history of early exploration of this wilderness. Mormon travelers in the early 1900’s created cable systems throughout the canyon to transport wood from the northern Kolob forest into what is now Springdale.
Riverside Trail brings you to the ever-changing Narrows, at the end of driving through Scenic Route. The Temple of Sinwava presides over the end of the valley. As the Virgin River ran through, the different density of the stone caused the stack of rocks to sit apart from the rest of the canyon walls. Nothing about Zion National Park happened overnight. This is the culmination of thousands of years of wind, rain and storms. These forces are continuing to shape what it is today.
There was a moment when I felt like an adult. I made tea for myself. I read a book. I had just made dinner. I think a lot of people in my generation struggle with the idea of feeling like we’re doing the right thing. This road trip was like a moment for myself, to see that I am on the right path. And it felt like everything really came together. My ideas about who I am, the things I like to do, the things that make me happy. Even the crazy emotional rollercoaster that ensued on my drive home. I know that I’m having those feelings for a reason. I was supposed to have that moment. It doesn’t mean that in the moment I feel like that. I don’t always distinguish that’s what’s happening. I just drove six and half hours, five hundred miles. I cried, being myself. This moment is important.
That is a level of adulthood I don’t understand.
I am getting to understand what that is for me. My capabilities, what I can do. I hope that in writing this and experiencing this, someone else can feel a little more comfort in their journey. Where they are at. Having all of those questions of what it means to be an adult or to be sober and experiencing life. My sobriety is the best thing that I have ever done for myself. I would choose this experience over thinking I am missing out on something because I do not drink. This experience will stay in my heart forever. I hope this shows me what I am capable of. Becoming tougher and stronger but also more open and willing to learn new things and being open to new experiences. This is what everyone writes best-selling books about and what people see therapists for.
Trips are hard, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them. Waking up in the morning is hard, being in a relationship is hard. There are a lot of things we put ourselves through. Why not let that include an experience bigger than yourself?