(the above photo is really cool - this is the court of the patriarchs - abraham, issac and jacob - from left to right [jacob is the tallest, whiteish peak on the right]. thought it was cool to have such a blatant biblical reference in a national park)
so it's saturday. if you'll notice, the "date" of the posts don't exactly correlate with the events in the post. so i'll try to be specific about what day or days i'm writing about. largely, ignore the day/date at the top of each post.
today was more time in zion. whenever i visit national parks, i largely refuse to pay campsite fees, since i'm just going to sleep for a few hours then move on. and site fees are up to $16/18 depending on where you are. so i end up being a bit of a hermit when i'm in a park. the first night (thursday), i parked my car in a turnout and layed out my sleeping bag on the farside between it and the woods. and last night, i parked at this kind-of picnic area/trailhead, and slept on a picnic table. temps got down to about 33 AND it was a metal table. figure out how cold THAT might have felt, and then halve it...that's about what it felt like.
i got an early start (mostly so if a ranger came by i wouldn't get "in trouble" for sleeping on a picnic table...but also because it was a saturday, and that equals lots of people in a NP) and headed to the main lodge to get some coffee and read for a bit. then i got on the trail up to 'observation point.' i initially didn't even think about this hike because it SOUNDS like it might be a couple-hundred-yard concrete path up to a little viewing spot that everyone and their grandma could hike up to. but then i read the description - 8 mile strenuous round trip, up and down 2200 feet. sweet. it was supposed to be one of the sweetest views of the park. and let me tell you, it DWARFED where i was yesterday at angel's landing.
this is the view from observation point, and angel's landing (where i was yesterday) is the peak RIGHT in the middle of this picture.
but it wasn't just about the view at the top. the whole hike was phenominal. since i got started early, i was largely alone. and it was super-secluded most of the way - and hiking over lots of packed snow and ice. i heard little but the blowing breeze, and various birds from time to time. it's hikes like these that i need every so often - hikes that help me feel small. it's hard not to feel small and humble here. i'm really glad to be spending my time like this. it's pretty amazing to pull back to such simplicity. it really is much truer to who i am - to walk, to be with my thoughts, to hear my heart beating as i chug up the snow-covered-switchbacks.
and yet the encroachments of the world are not far. up at the top, the guy to my right was texting on his phone before, AND it just rang and he answered it - yakking away to someone many thousands of miles away no doubt. and to my left, a boy about 12 has been pacing for the entire half-hour i spent at the top, while his dad sat quietly and ate his lunch. he probably wanted to be anywhere but at the top of this GORgeous mountain...maybe in front of his video games or computer. who knows. i'm certainly not judging them because i fall into it too. just observing.
but the hike up and down is incredible. it's amazing to take in the geology that is all around me. it's really impressive how creation was formed, and how it continutes to grow and change over time. i'm reminded of a quote from the shawshank redemption as i hike here - "Geology is the study of pressure and time - andy had plenty of both." we've all got a lot of pressure and a lot of time. and i guess it's what we do about those that makes us who we are.
alright, enough existentialism. i'm caught up for now. i may be on to bryce canyon tonight. not sure...it's supposed to have a lot of snow and lows in the teens. not sure what i think about that. peace for now...