Zion: The Second Stone in Our Triple Crown
I remember the first time I felt him kick. I put my hand to my tummy and had the following conversation:
Me: Hi baby. I’m your mommy, and I am so excited to meet you. But, you know this doesn’t always work out. So, in order to make this thing work, you and I are going to have to work as a team. If you promise to grow and enter the world alive and healthy, I promise to give you a life full of wonderful adventures and memories. Do we have a deal?
He tried hard to live up to our deal. He was born early, and so small that my mother was too afraid to hold him. He didn’t do so well on that healthy thing, for the first few years, but we continued to work as a team, and now that little flutter I felt is 20 years old.
This past weekend, that little kicker and I completed the second rim-to-rim-to rim in our Triple Crown. We hiked ZIon National Park in Utah.
During our first hike, in the Grand Canyon, I did a lot of teaching. I had to show him everything from equipment to nutrition to pacing to how to keep his mind focused. He told me his childhood ended on that hike, and that it gave him strength and courage to take on the next chapters in his life.
Zion was different. Not only was the hike different, but Noah was different. The Canyon was one long continuous trek. Zion’s trails are not interconnected. We would hike a trail, and take a shuttle bus to the next, and repeat from the East Rim to the West, and then turn around and hike our way back, choosing different trails at each stop. This in some ways was less physically demanding, as we got to rest after each trail. In other ways, it was harder, as we had to summit and descend the canyon for each trail. We were not able to hike at night after the shuttles stop running, so we would be first in line at sunrise to hit our destination. This strategy let is mostly miss the massively over-populated crowds that descended this holiday weekend. Again, a stark contrast to the Grand Canyon, which we had all to ourselves.
As far as Noah, he took ownership of his hike. He packed his own gear and besides telling me on the way to the airport that he has outgrown his hiking boots, didn’t forget a thing. On the trails themselves, Noah still let me lead, but relied less on me. He was able to intuitively navigate the trails and make sound decisions to keep himself from facing the struggles he faced in the Canyon.
Although each trail was spectacular in its own right, two stand out as magnificent: Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. Angel’s landing, named because the peak is so high, only angels can land there, is a treacherous 22 inch wide trail with a 1,200 foot drop off on one side, and an 800 foot drop off on the other. This trail must accommodate two-way traffic, and, I’ll admit, it is quite daunting. A sign posted told us that six people have died by falling off the trail. A ranger on the shuttle told us the number is closer to 1-2 a year. The payoff for our troubles, was a view that is the most incredible I have ever set eyes on. All of the canyon is visible and there is almost a hushed reverence from those who made the climb with us.
The Narrows is a 10 mile trek on a trail totally submerged by the VIrgin River. The water level only receded to navigable levels during our trek, so we got to enjoy the highest water at its fastest rate. We would literally be in ankle deep water one second and hip deep the next. All while surrounded on both left and right by towering canyon walls, and swirling river rapids. It must truly be experienced to be appreciated.
Granted the scenery was brilliant but what made the trip most memorable to me was being with my son, who is now a man. Sharing conversations as they arose: laughing, lamenting, and learning about each other as human beings. Knowing that by working as a team, we were each able to keep the promise we made to each other, so very long ago.
Next stop: Yosemite 2019