Thick and Thin
Our second to last stop on the trip was Zion National Park. We had heard so much about it from friends and other travelers that the excitement was hitting us hard. Upon driving in we realized that our level of preparation didn’t necessarily match up with the level of prep that may have been needed to actually camp inside the park. We headed a half an hour back the way we came to a state park off next to a reservoir, filled with boats and jet skiers cooling off from the harsh sun. We set up our tent, dropped some things off and headed back for our first day in Zion.
Mission number one was to hike the Narrows, with my moms anxious warning of flash floods we did some quick research and asked the park rangers how we could stay safe. They informed us that we came at a great time and that the chances of a flash flood were under 10% for the day. With the reassurance our stoke levels rocketed back to 100% and we set off for a six hour adventure.
One of the best parts about the narrows was the shared struggle of braving the chilling water. Within fifteen minutes my feet were numb and I was not looking forward to the growing shade giving to us by the canyon walls as we made our way deeper upstream. The foot traffic was absurd in Zion making it hard to really feel as though we were outdoors. Waiting in line to cross a river in a national park is something I ponder often when I reflect back to Zion. Although I’m ecstatic about the number of people who enjoy the outdoors, I question what that means for each individual and what they think it means to truly respect an area. I’ve tried to keep a positive mindset about it as it’s a growing trend and I am profoundly guilty for a certain level of exploitation as I sit and write a blogpost for my collective that promotes the outdoors, but I find comfort in knowing that I want to promote a level of respect that can help sustain theses places not destroy them. With the conundrum in my head we pushed forward for some hours longer before heading back to camp.
If you’ve ever been in 98 degrees when the sun has already set, you understand the struggle we had sleeping that night. Jumping in the lake we resided by helped cool us off but only momentarily so we spent most of our night talking about the aforementioned trend and what we would get ourselves into when the sun came back around to warm our already blistering skin.
The next morning we ate a quick breakfast and sent it back to the park with our eyes on Angles Landing. If you didn’t know, Angles Landing got it’s name when the first person to make it to the top stated “it is so high up that only the angels could land here”. To get to the top you follow two miles of switch backs up the canyon wall. Once at the top you start to see why it is referred to as one of the most dangerous hikes in America. A thick chain attached to metal steaks stuck into the rocks lead you across a ridge with 2,000 feet drop offs on either side. We were stoked but again a line was waiting for us at the top. After some time of waiting for our turn we were able to send it, making it to the thick slab of rocks that mark the end of the hike. We danced, ate food, and sat to watch buses and people thousands of feet below us before sending back down for another night of restless sleep. I went to bed hoping that our next journey to Havasu Falls would be different from Zion, less crowded and dirty like it had been the year before.