Everyone should have a place they unquestionably love above everywhere else. That one place that makes them happier and more at home than anywhere else. For some it is a building, others a mountain top. And for many it is their physical home. Mine is Zion National Park. I doubt anyone would find this a surprise as I talk about Zion as though it were actually my park. I love every aspect, every cliff, canyon, stream, and trail. Whenever I return it’s like visiting an old friend and I’m immediately welcomed with open arms.
This weekend I’ll be traveling down to my favorite playground again in hopes of completely the Zion Double Crossing for a second time. Along with Jennilyn we will trek from west to east through the night, then return the following morning with a few friends in tow.
A single crossing is approximately 48.5 miles with up to 8500 vertical feet of climbing (direction dependent). From the west entrance in Kolob Canyons all the way to the east entrance of the park we will pass sandstone walls standing more than 1000 ft above us and drop hundreds of feet into canyon bottoms, crossing streams and sandy desert. We’ll run among the cactus and Ponderosa Pines. In our entire trek we’ll likely pass only a few people except for the time spent in the main part of the canyon.
What makes Zion so special to me isn’t simply the beauty of my surroundings, but the comfort I feel in the backcountry. Having gone to Southern Utah University, Zion was my backyard and I became familiar with the trails and slot canyons. I knew how to read the weather and local conditions. I feel comfort in Zion the same way hardcore mountaineers feel on the biggest peaks in the world. So whenever I return I know I’m going home. And I’m at peace.
When the chaos of the world overwhelms me and I feel buried by the minutia of the daily whirlwind, Zion becomes my escape. With a relatively short drive I can be at Zion’s door in just a few hours. And minutes later I can get lost in my own mind. Zion is what I need now, especially now. She calls to me and I heed her subtle whispers. See you all very soon.