To read the previous part: AHA 20 Deep: The Man in the Truck
That morning at the BLM land was extremely memorable. I put down all the windows, sat in the back of the car, pulled out my iPad and wrote. The expression I use when I am very inspired to write is that it seemed that my fingers moved faster than my mind did. The writing I did that morning eventually became what is now What is Traveling? Meanwhile, Christian went to explore the area. When I finished writing, I plugged in my iPod to the stereo and turned on the album From Tallaght to Halle by Aldoc, which is band that fuses electronic dance music with traditional Celtic music. I turned up the music as loud as it could go, walked outside the car, took off my shirt and proceeded to make a bagel, peanut butter and Nutella sandwich on the trunk of the car. It wasn’t long before I was dancing, kicking up bright red dirt and breaking a sweat. Surrounding me were wide plains and high walls. The entire landscape assaulted me with a barrage of bright colors, such as red, pink, yellow and white. I felt in that moment that I was engaging in some type of divine dance. I felt as if I was experiencing a trip from the drug of freedom.
I felt as if I could have remained at the BML land all day, just exploring the surrounding land, climbing the red rock and listening to music playing from my car as I danced shirtless. But, Christian and I knew that we had this sacred calling to pilgrimage to a Mecca of sorts. Where that calling was was not to Mecca, but a spiritual site just as holy: Zion. Thus, Christian and I hopped into AHA and drove out of our public lands, causing dust to billow up behind us.
If traveling to Zion didn’t satisfy my desire to engage in symbolically spiritual activities, ascending to Angel’s Landing in Zion would hopefully do the trick. This was my hope at least. Angel’s Landing is arguably the most difficult hike in Zion (although that’s a bold claim for me to make considering we didn’t do many hikes over there). The path begins with hiking up a snake like trail all the way until we are confronted by a series of switchbacks. There are many of these switchbacks and they are short and steep. It’s a hell of a calf workout! When we dominated the switchbacks, we were awaited by an enormous rock plain. This was not the final destination of the Angel’s Landing hike, but it did provide a view just as inconceivable. When Christian and I walked onto the plain, we looked to our right to see the one of a kind Zion Canyon. It was essentially an enormous natural alleyway. On both sides of the canyon were behemoth like canyon walls that were painted with different shades of red as well as stripes of white, yellow and black. Moreover, the entire floor of the canyon was covered with bright green trees. The sky was blue and the clouds were white. We were so high up that we couldn’t see the road down below. Christian and I were confronted by the loss of human industrialization and the discovery of nature boasting in its fulfillment of beauty by radiating the color God bequeathed to the land.
The entire way up to that plain was very excruciating and as a result, Christian was satisfied enough to remain there. There is no weakness in his decision as he chose to enjoy the beauty in the present that he was seeing. In addition, by him remaining there and me continuing on, he was able to talk to a couple who informed him about In N Out Burger (in which this information would be a very valuable asset to us in the future of the day). I did decide to finish the rest of the hike, in which I was forced to climb up a very steep and narrow ridge that required me to hold onto a chain as I ascended. This is because it was a straight drop on both sides of the narrow path. Being at the top of Angel’s Landing was incredibly inspiring. Up there, I was able to take a picture of a group of cairns that guarded the view of the canyon. This was important for me to take that picture because it reinforced the philosophy of traveling that I had written about that morning.
Once Christian and I enjoyed delicious Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches on blueberry bagels, we headed back down to the bottom of the trail to continue on our pilgrimage in Zion. We hopped onto the transport bus and rode it all the way to the last stop. The last stop was to this trail that ran along the Virgin River. Christian and I went to this trail and followed it until we reached the very end, which was a small beach that was on the side of the river. We looked to the right of the beach to find the river to continue. In addition, we saw a lot of people taking off their shoes at the beach front and wading in the water and continuing to travel down the river that we saw to our right. Christian and I did the same and we strapped on our sandals and continued on in the river in the section that is known as the Narrows. The Narrows is the section of the Virgin River in Zion that continues on as it is surrounded by canyon walls on the right and left side of the water. The canyon walls reached high towards the sky. They are also close enough to each other that they suffocate the light that attempts to enter into the chasm. But, the bright colors of the walls are bright enough that it doesn’t need any light to illuminate them. Christian and I found a random dry plot of land that hovered above the relatively deep water. This is where we put down our backpacks, took off our shirts and ran into the water like a couple of fools. We found the deepest section we could find and dove into it. Swimming around like we didn’t give a crap was so rejuvenating especially considering that we had just conquered an enormous mountain.
Christian and I eventually climbed out of the narrows and then from there, climbed out of Zion National Park. We were famished and we knew that we couldn’t commence our Western experience without eating at In N Out Burger. The only way to eat at In N Out Correctly? Animal style! An Animal style burger is a mystical bundle of wonder composed of Thousand Island spread, mustard grilled patties and extra pickles. Nothing else gave us more strength at that moment.
Christian and I lost ourselves in the evening of the Utah paradise as we made our way to the eastern part of the state. This is where we would camp out and rest until the next morning, which is when we would set out for our Western abode.
To read the next part: AHA 20 Deep: Our Western Abode