“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey
I journeyed back into the wilderness this weekend. Dave and I drove to Zion National Park, a day long ride through country that has left me without words to describe the beauty. One hour south of our current town lies Monument Valley. This famous view has been in many movies, but the impact of these enormous buttes even more awe-inspiring in person. This is spectacular and they are just the beginning of a long road with these kind of views. The road took us into Arizona and past miles of red cliffs, deep canyons and desert beauty.
We stayed in Arizona just long enough to drive to the Glen Canyon Dam, where Lake Powell begins and to visit Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona. While I took many pictures of Horseshoe Bend, none of them do this justice. Check out my friend Jeremiah’s post http://www.jeremiahsr.com/p1038564422/h66db684 to get a real taste of the beauty. It is worth the click!
On to Zion National Park. We entered Zion via the Zion- Mount Carmel highway, a breath-taking road full of spectacular views. The road leads into a mile-long tunnel built into the mountain. The tunnel twists and turns in the dark, with surprise windows cut into the side of the mountain where you can glimpse the cliffs across the way. It comes out the other side of the mountain and into the heart of the park, Zion Canyon.
This National Park has many hikes and adventures, from mild to wild. We chose to do one of the “strenuous” hikes into the Narrows, a canyon still being cut by the Virgin river. The hike was unique for us. After a beautiful and deceptively calm stroll alongside the river, the hike leads you into the canyon and then into the river itself. The river led us upstream, where there were occasional times we could walk on sand but mostly we were splashing along in knee deep water. It turns out walking upstream on rocks is challenging. Yet the experience was exhilarating, especially as we learned how
to navigate the stream. Different colors meant that we could begin to tell what water was deep, where the sand was, which rocks were more slippery (usually) and where the easiest path would likely be. I am grateful for the experience. I am grateful we had sturdy hiking sticks and closed toe shoes. I am also very grateful we made it back to the shuttle bus safe and sound for the ride back to the visitor center.
The shuttle bus has multiple stops, each one with tempting hikes, museums and information about the flora and fauna of the park. As we just had the one day there, we only sampled a couple of the options. We could have stayed so much longer. We will have to go back.
On the drive back to Blanding, we stopped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. It is similar to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, but nearby red rocks color the sand a beautiful pink. We climbed up to get the best view and while we were there we saw the elusive Coral Pink Tiger Beetle, a tiny bug that can live in those dry desert dunes despite the lack of water and intense summer heat. We watched one climb towards the top of the dune only to be blown down again from an unfriendly gust of wind. Yet, undaunted, it never stopped heading towards to top. It was a lesson in persistence and determination. Very impressive.
We are at our home base now, planning our next adventures. There is so much to do within 5 hours of here, the two months we get to stay will fly by. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to experience this magical place while I can. Yes, I am blessed.