Angel’s LandingAngel’s Landing

Zion 2024:

We woke in Las Vegas, the Paris a glittering facade concealing the weight of years, the expectations of a birthday, the 33rd, Rachel’s. Coffee shared with Bob, one of Rachel’s fitness clients - only a virtual friend until this morning. We claimed our chariot, Kaleidoscope”, a hippie’s dream on four wheels, and pointed it towards Utah, towards Zion, towards adventure.

St. George offered respite, a Mediterranean feast to fuel the journey ahead. Hummus, pitas, the sustenance of the ancients, girding us for what lay ahead. Zion beckoned, her siren song growing louder with each mile, each minute, until we stood at her gates, $35 lighter, seven days richer in possibility.

The shuttle, a dragon to be slain, conquered. Emerald Pools Trail, a warm-up, a tease of the wonders to come. And then, a chance meeting, a woman from Calgary, words flowing as easily as the waterfalls, cold and bracing, a shock to the system. We descended together, strangers made friends by the shared experience of beauty, of nature’s raw power.

But the day was not done, the adventure just beginning. We spurned the campground, the easy path, for the road less traveled, the federally-owned land, where solitude and peace awaited. Dinner, a sunset, a beer, a perfect trinity to close out the day, to mark Rachel’s passage into her 33rd year.

Morning brought challenges, as mornings often do. Spinning tires, sinking hopes, the van, our faithful steed, betrayed by the soft, silty earth. Tears from Rachel, frustration, despair, the birthday dream turning nightmare. But then, a savior, a Russian with a tow rope and a 4Runner, a timely reminder that help can come from the most unexpected places.

Watchman Trail, a balm for the soul, a refuge from the gloomy skies and gloomier moods. But the real test awaited, the Narrows, a legendary hike, a trial by water. We girded ourselves, waders and walking sticks our armor and weapons, and set forth, into the unknown.

The NarrowsThe Narrows

Six hours, six long, glorious, grueling hours, lost in the wonder of the canyons, battling the currents, forging bonds with fellow travelers. Exhausted, triumphant, we emerged, baptized by the Virgin River, forever changed.

E-bikes, a new day, a new way to experience Zion’s majesty. We flew, we soared, we drank in the beauty, every turn revealing new wonders, each mile a gift. Springdale, a haven, pizza and beer, the rewards of a day well spent. One last hike, perhaps, one last chance to let Zion leave her mark.

But the real world intruded, as the real world always does. 4 pm, a deadline, a return to Vegas, to civilization, to the end of our journey. We woke early, one last mission before us: Angel’s Landing, the summit of our aspirations. We fell asleep easy, in our Kaleidoscope.

The next morning, on the shuttle, first to the trailhead, the chains, daunting, beckoning. Two hours early, the ranger’s warnings unheeded, we climbed, slow, steady, determined. The British couple, kindred spirits, met at the top, triumph shared, memories forged.

Descent, a race against time, Vegas waiting, the van to be returned. Seven Magic Mountains, a burst of color, a last glimpse of whimsy before the neon embrace of Sin City. The Venetian, luxury, indulgence, the final act of our Zion odyssey.

Drinks, dinner, the arcade, simple pleasures, grand finales. Ben and Jerry’s, a sweet coda. And then, sleep, blissful sleep, dreams of canyons conquered, of love affirmed, of a future wide open with possibility.

The Court of the PatriarchsThe Court of the Patriarchs

Zion, a crucible, a catalyst, a turning point. 33, a milestone, an age of ripeness, of readiness for what lies ahead. Rachel and I, tested, triumphant, transformed.

As we lay in our room that night, we reflected on the incredible journey we had just completed. Zion had forever changed us, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and souls. We had faced challenges, overcome obstacles, and forged unbreakable bonds. And we knew that this was just the beginning.

The world lay before us, a canvas waiting to be painted with the colors of our adventures. We had tasted the sweet nectar of exploration, and we knew that we would never be the same. Our dreams were filled with visions of the future, a future where every day held the promise of new discoveries, new connections, and new challenges to be overcome.

For in the end, that was what mattered most. Not the destinations we reached, but the journey we shared. Not the peaks we conquered, but the love we found along the way. And as we drifted off to sleep, we knew that no matter what lay ahead, we would always have each other. Always.

April 9, 2024