Guess what. Everything in Utah closes at 8pm. The one restaurant that I literally ran to, that said it was open till 9:30, was closed at 8:45. Yet another reason I could not live in this state. If I can’t get dinner at 9 pm on a weeknight…
I awoke the next morning after an unfulfilling dinner of Triscuits, Kind bars, and grapes, and got on the road to Zion. Now, I’ve never been to the desert, never been in the southwest (I do not count my single trip to the Grand Canyon at age 2), and I figured it would be very Lawrence of Arabia.
Here’s a pro tip: it isn’t like that at all. Aside from it being hot, and a bit sandy, it wasn’t like that at all. It was in the mid-70’s, but it was green, with flowers, waterfalls, and gorgeous rock/wind formations.
With time for only one real hike, I opted for the Hidden Canyon trail, described as a 3-hour, 2.4 mile “strenuous” hike with “long drop-offs. Not for anyone fearful of heights. Follows along a cliff face to the mouth of a narrow canyon.” Perfect, I thought, and I got on the shuttle to the trail and set off.
Strenuous? Yeah, a bit. Scrambling, climbing, and it was HOT. But there was something about climbing 800 feet in the first mile, something exhilarating and exhausting that made it very rewarding. When you’re scaling rocks on a 6-inch-wide, well-worn, weathered ledge and you’re holding on for dear life, you start to feel very free.
Eventually, I reached the hidden canyon. Lovely, just as expected, but I wasn’t tired yet, and wanted to explore a bit more. Of course, the beauty of these trails is that depending on your level of physical fitness and sense of adventure, you can keep going when you run into signs like this one:
As a runner, I figured it would be ok, and I asked myself, “Really, how hard could this be?” After all, they rate the trails harder than they actually are, to discourage those that are not fit enough, so this is probably no sweat….
I was wrong….but it was so worth it.
At maybe 0.75 miles past the sign, I had to turn back. I would have kept going, but I didn’t want to end up lost and out of time. I turned back – and saw new things upon descent. Sometimes you have to look back from whence you came to see where you might be going. And let me tell you. The view was magnificent.
On the way down, I took a detour to the Weeping Rock. When water soaks into the rocks, it keeps traveling downwards through the rock itself until it reaches an impenetrable layer. It then travels horizontally, until it makes it to the side, and “weeps” out. It was beautiful, and made me forget for a minute that I was in the desert.
Leaving Zion was a sad moment – until I got to the road. It was winding, twisting, and driving out of the park, I felt like I was truly part of something bigger; something really special. For the first time in a long time, I felt content and happy, and even though I was hot, sweaty, and exhausted, I was ready for my next adventure.