I am currently sitting outside of a Denny's in Vegas using free wifi, debating on wether or not going inside to buy something is worth AC. But for those who heard about my allergic reaction while hiking in Zion, I want to let you know that I ended up perfectly ok. The ambulance probably wasn't even necessary, just a recommended precaution. But I will get to that on the next blog entry as it happened on day 2 of my Zion adventures. First, let us travel to the start of Day 8 with the story of the poky-doted tree...
And that's the story of the Poky-Doted tree (I know, a little anti-climatic).
I continued driving across Utah, finishing the Audio Book "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman. I love his whimsical adventures and fantasy storytelling. This book carried that flame well (as he also did the narration). At first I wasn't able to make a huge connection with the characters because most of them were quite "out there", but by the end I had caught the feels. Especially since the pinnacle moment of decision faced by the main character is whether to accept a mundane yet predicable life, or seek adventure and uncertainty. That really resonated with everything I've been pondering.
We related on many topics and I learned about the different social environment around Utah being based on Mormon traditions (far fewer bars for was a noticeable one). We even had time to get into some deeper and resounding conversations like the lack of cell service or fast internet speed. After the photos for the log post finally uploaded, I paid my $4.44 bill and made my way to Zion. The rest of the ride went well and I arrived around 5pm.
So I decided missing the bus would be worth the sunset view and the Angel's landing experience even if it adds a 4.5 mile additional hike back to the visitor center.
side which was a tad daunting. It was really cool to see where the chain has worn away at the stone!
Then about 3/4 to the top, I was hiking by a couple people when one guy asked about what my tattoo meant. I love explaining it and appreciated someone noticing the design (And who has also seen the movie Arrival ;D). His name is Lief and lives in Hurricane (about 40 minutes from the park). He was hiking with his friend Whitney and they both appreciated my tattoo enough to ask about it, noticing the shapes and geometry on my tattoo. We had a fun conversation about the meaning behind it. He mentioned if I needed a place to crash that I could camp in his yard. I highly appreciated the offer but ended up being too tired that night to drive out to his place.
I reached the Angel's Landing peak just before sunset, and because of that, most people were heading down to make the last bus. The view was unbelievable. The sunset colored the sky above the canyon and gave a sense of scale that words can't capture. I ate my dinner at the peak and changed into warmer gear. Soon another weary traveler made it to the top as well. His name is Vincent and asked if I could take some photos of him. After he took the photos of me (a couple where I got close to the edge and did some poses) he wanted a few more of him doing some cooler poses as well. We had fun taking the photos and he then headed down as the sky was getting dark and said he would probably see me on the road. I bid him farewell but never ended up catching up to him so I hope he made it safely!
As the moon came out and the sunset faded, I began making my way down from Angel's Landing when I came across a group of three hikers making their way up. Their names are Ethan, Sam, and Maggie. As they were standing in a staggered pattern, I thought it would make a cool photo so I asked to take one and they agreed. Afterword I commented on it looking like a cool band photo. And Ethan said that they were in fact all in a new age metal alternative band with a name along the lines of "Intense Vermin".
Ethan also let me know about BLM land to camp on only 20 minutes from the park which was super helpful! Eventually I bid them farewell and asked if they may have room for an extra passenger to get a ride down to the visitor center. They said they would be awhile but if there saw me on the road that they could probably work something out.
To stabilize the images I found rocks and things to set the camera on as I held it still for the 10-15 second exposures. A couple times I contorted my body against things to hold the right angle, even lying down on the ground for one shot. It was so calm and quiet, I had a really fun time letting creativity take hold of me and enjoying the a night hike in the coolest park I've visited.
I eventually made it to the bottom and at the last bit Ethan, Sam, and Maggie caught up as I was taking so many long exposure photos. They were kind enough to drive me to my car at the visitors center and wished me well on my journey. I was so exhausted that I drove to the campsite, leaned back the seat, and passed out.
The scenery at Zion may be the first time that photos or expectations didn't even come close to the true splendor and breath taking experience. At times I couldn't look away. The canyon is like eye candy, delicious to indulge upon and savory to soak in. Continuously hiking upward thousands of feet offers so many different elevation perspectives. None of the photos I took captured the full scale of perspective, depth, or detail. And I think thats also apart of the beauty of this park. You truly have to see it for yourself. I highly recommend everyone try to make it to Zion once in their life.
The photos Im uploading for this post are mostly from my phone as I want to take time to choose and edit a selection of my T3i files. I will upload them to my website later to try and glean some of the wonder of this place with the images I feel even come close to touching upon the slightest notion of its true beauty. So in the meantime, I will avoid too many photos ;).
Driving across Utah that day saw a number of good mental considerations. The first of these came with the end of Neverwhere, when the character chooses between predicable routines or unpredictable adventures. I am experiencing that to a certain extent, though its not so black and white. Many of the choices we face in life offer similar outcomes: Predictable routine, or adventurous risk. I realized that I have been making choices lately that fall in the later category in many aspects of my life. This is probably countering the high level of responsibility I have held myself to since high school. Though i appreciate my effort in this regard, I can't say in the end that it has netted me much more success in life than I feel I would have obtained otherwise due to my charisma and disposition...but then again, I can only make that observation after following the path I've followed. I know I wouldn't change my past for any reason as it's brought me to exactly where I am each and every day.
Later I was listening to "Losing a Whole Year" by Third Eye Blind when I recognized the sense of nostalgia and simple disregard for certain responsibilities as something that is beautiful and fun in its own right and in certain moments. But it's not something that promotes growth. Its a place we can reach at points in our life but not somewhere we should stagnate. In the case of this song (Which I love) It truly is a moment in time being described as a lifestyle, even though the lifestyle isn't necessarily sustainable in its own right.
Finally I drifted to how I've perceived my social self worth as an interesting or "cool" individual. And like many, I have always idolized people or ideas that are inherently cool or chill to the point where i desire to emulate that. But every time I have chased "being cool", I've never obtained it. Especially in middle school with the older kids in my friend groups (as I was usually the class clown), because I knew I would eventually reach that age. I would think "I cant wait until I'm 15 and I'm that cool!" and then turn 15 and feel the same, though now disappointed that I don't feel more cool. It wasn't until recently that I've recognized some of the things I do as being "cool", but not in the same way I hoped it would feel. This is all expectation based but I noticed that its still something that impacts my psyche. Most likely because the "fake it til you make it" montra often follows trendsetters (typically people seen as cool) and I utilize that montra for my self confidence, professional, and creative parts of my life.