Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Utah Forever

"Who do I have to kill to move here?"

- David

We always have the same reaction once we pull into Springdale: awe, joy and immense gratitude. There's a lot to be thankful for in Utah. Zion National Park is highly underrated as far as national parks go, and it has been our pleasure to experience the park in different seasons without crazy crowds. It's really only a matter of time before people catch on so every trip has been precious.

This time Minh and I went with our friend David, my brother and a few younger friends we both have in common. A beautiful mix of earnest, peaceful, adventurous people. 

Before coming to the park we entered the drawing for permits to hike the Subway river trail and won seven spots. We set out early the first morning, traipsing through a scrub juniper forest, laughing and praying for good weather. Monsoon season in Southern Utah brings flash floods to Zion's regularly and we were told to abandon the hike if storm clouds started to form before 10. After a steep descent down a red rock cliff, we began scrambling over boulders and wading in the river, up and down, this way and that, over and under. 

The purest bliss can be found at each bend. 

Beautiful pockets of earth reveal tiny beaches, trickling brooks, grand staircases of stone, and graceful curves carved out by crystal clear water.

The strenuousness of the hike was truly overshadowed by the beauty revealed to us at every turn. Slowly we made out way up slippery algae coated slopes until we found ourselves at a laughing mouth of a cavern. Rushing water filled gorgeous pools. We giggled and laughed, splashing in jacuzzi-sized nooks, cooling down hot hips and knees, soothing backs and brows.

Truly God's playground. Laughter and literal healing. 

Sleeping at the Driftwood Lodge is such a pleasure. The property's gone through major renovation and for us, it's a luxury. The best parts about the Lodge are actually outside. They have grazing horses to feed and nuzzle, right next to a small field as well as a nice little piece of river access deep enough to take a dip in. After hiking part of the Narrows on day two, we had a big meal at Oscars and celebrated David's birthday with slices of Brambleberry pie. We ate it on the bank of the Virgin River by moonlight.

I was close to bailing on the last hike of the week and I'm glad I decided to go. The Subway and Narrows hikes had left my ankles really tired and unreliable, but going to Angel's Landing is an important place to visit. I made it a little past Scout's Landing but decided to stop and enjoy the view and save the summit for next time. 

Can't wait to go back.

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