As you know by now I’m not a big fan of the town of Hurricane. I thought id parked somewhere quiet last night but cars begin tearing past at 6am, so moved Hummingbird around the corner to what I thought a quieter spot next to a building site which I didn’t notice in the dark. A big digger roared into life half an hour after and school bus stopped behind where I’d parked bleeping none stop for what seemed eternity, I didn’t want to pop my head up, as I didn’t want to frighten the children. Result is I am getting quite fatigued.
I went to sit in the La Virkin Coffee bar which is the next town just over the bridge which was actually quite nice, time flew, enjoyed the writing that morning but it was getting on for 12pm time to move.
My legs ached and my feet were blistered, oh and todays song “Don’t stop me now – Queen” For the record I haven’t got a Queen record to my name, but I’m quite enjoying them these days.
I stiff legged it back to Hummingbird and we rolled up the hill on the 9 Past Rockville to Springdale where Zion’s main visitor’s center is. It’s another world. Firstly because there was monster traffic jam then there were shops and stalls all along the road selling all sorts of items that you would associate with a wilderness cathedral. I suppose all the thousands that come here will want a nice meal, maybe even a beer and just maybe a piece of natural blue glass. For the record though, I found out that if you want a beer in Utah you have to order food.
As we rolled along the highway on the way in I couldn’t help but wonder why the first Mormon settlers came here. The Native Americans where of course born into this land, that was their reality, they knew it. But why would you drag a cart up here with your family kids and skinny livestock. No luxuries here, literally nothing, being washed away by flash floods, your crops burnt to cinders in the relentless summer sun, no roads, and up hill, why? Well, maybe perhaps they did see it. I’d imagined you could be terrorized by this land but perhaps they did feel it and perhaps at the same time they were too they were.
Spring had arrived on this side of the park, which was curious as the cottonwoods there had burst into beautiful startling lime green, yet just over in Kolob’s canyons everything was still tinder and sticks. Isn’t spring a beautiful thing, it looked astonishing, bright ribbons of fresh lime green tender leaves following the stream down through the reds oranges yellows and creams of the canyon walls
The visitor’s center was packed, there was a traffic jam into the park. So I parked up and nipped down to get some info and my stamp. There is a theatre there, shops bars and restaurants. I also found out that if you wanted to actually get up close in Zion canyon you have to park your car and get a bus. Hm.
Not today, A lovely girl on the desk, wearing one of those cool ranger hats with the dimple in the top that would probably look ridiculous on me, told me that the ‘hop valley trail was beautiful, we both laughed because lets face it no matter where you turned in this place you are going to be faced with something incredibly beautiful. Then with conspiratorial a glint in her eye she said as I think she twigged me
“If you really want to get away from the crowds, that’s the place”
They say that most of the drama here has been created by water, but also by unimaginable forces pushing upwards and in places collapsing down snapped pushed up and bent the rocks lean and tilt crumble and tumble
The vertical Navajo stone cliffs sit upon slopes of rubble fallen from the battlements above and following particular pink cream or orange vein, away across in the hazy distance, the rock is folded, spired and gouged and in places it just stops and falls into nothing. Nothing is out of place here, it is perfect.
We went up to where the girl had indicated much higher. I parked up and walked a mile or so into the hop valley trail, again a beautiful place, in amongst the sage and the cactus. but it was a sand trail my legs ached, it was tough going, it reminded me of Ghost Ranch terrain and I would be there soon. Right then I wanted to be amongst the rocks, so after about an hour in I asked the family, shall I go on
I got an immediate “Turn back”
“Thanks” I said
I walked of the trail through the bare boned scratching bushes and as I came out nearly fell upon a park ranger working on the trail with a shovel. Surprised me but he must have heard me coming he just said
A little later up the beautiful road I tried the Wildcat trail walking in 3rd gear today, I’d toned it down to start with. Gently through the woods, only one family passed me, a little boy with a long face, tall dad smiling and encouraging him, “nearly back now’ and mum waiting patiently, smiling, ahead up the trail. They were all I met all day
The family were gentle with me too, I had the feeling they were just watching me from a safe distance. Leaving me be, to just be mick today. I was aware of the sound of my footsteps on the dirt and the rocks. I loved the crunch of my dust-covered boots on them.
As usual I cut off the trail but a minute later the trail found me, I had naturally gone the right way, if there is such a thing out there. There was a sign that said ‘permits required’ but I couldn’t see anybody to ask for one or to check that I had one, it was a long way back, so nah, I of course went onwards.
Then out of the woods, the sky opened up as we emerged on white creamy petrified sand dunes of the Navajo sandstone. We were on top of a plateau looking out, not sure what direction. There laid before me were shades ranging from brown peach crimson orange vermillion salmon pink gold yellow and creams squeezed by the ages into layers and the chiseled by the elements into incredible shapes. The elements had done a wonderful job and I hadn’t expected the white where I found myself
Its not as if the area was off limits they just want to know who is out there and vaguely where, as there is no mistaking it, it may be a national park but it is a wild place full of hidden dangers
“I’ll take care, I promise” I said. Somebody once told me always give an over the shoulder look, like the wolf when your going into an area so you’ll know your way back when you need to. I have always remembered it and have been grateful many times over.
There have been days as I have sped along and back at home when I can be really and frustratingly absent minded, to many things to do, to many options. But here all the scattered parts of my mind come together, it is possibly another reason why I enjoy these places, I am wide open, I am feeling and I am a whole.
I walked along the edge of the cliffs, well actually hopped and skipped and jumped, so exhilarating, making my way down, easily along and then up to a beautiful point that the lines of the rock, the way they had been eroded and exposed, drew the eye. The panoramic views were like nothing I have ever seen before and as I write this vaguely tearful to recall.
Over the other side of the valley sheer creamy white cliffs with pink iron stains leaking out from within the rocks, pastel pink ink on rough creamy blotting paper
My legs and my left hip had been pretty sore all day but as I got further and further into the wild place, my tempo picked up and I began jumping again. Though I made sure I stayed in a lower gear I had a few weeks to go and needed to build up my strength and stamina. But I wasn’t doing too badly
I remembered the geologist at Ghost Ranch telling me about the rocks, how the Navajo sandstone on the top layers of this land had in fact been enormous sand dunes back in a time too far away to comprehend. I cannot imagine the winds that blew these mountains into being. When shown, you can see the great frozen domes of the dunes crisscrossed and with weathered lines on their old exposed faces.
It is a view of a place that fills us with energy isn’t it and so my engines were again purring I was looking at things to climb and to push myself over, just for the joy of it. I then realized that the peninsular I was stood on fell away and at the end an enormous white dome was like the dot on the exclamation mark. I’d have to go down and then climb back up.
“Yeah baby” I laughed “lets go”
I checked the time it was 5.30 I would have a couple of hours of daylight, so off we went. I imagined one or two people I knew groaning at me. Which of course pushed me on laughing
There I was heart beating strong, blood pumping in my veins my lungs straining in the thin air the winds whispering, straining, upwards onwards and upwards. And then
You know something’s that you push for are most definitely worth it and to be honest it wasn’t that difficult once we were up there. It looked harder than it was. Perhaps that’s why sometimes things fail, we expect it when we first contemplate it, it seems to hard, but when your will is demonstrated and you know it, it seemed easy once your there, is that how things are. I don’t mean putting yourself in danger, being foolhardy, it isn’t about trying, it’s not about knowing your limits, it’s not about piling up stress taking to much on, or any of that, its just moving forward into the unknown into a future with confidence. We can’t know can we exactly how it will be can we, but once your there where you set your mind, it seems that it was easy. Do you know what I mean?
On top of that rocky white dune is forever in my mind, everywhere was beautiful. I gave my respects to the 4 directions, my thanks to the above and below as I have always done, sat a while and just looked, I was going to close my eyes and open up but to close my eyes there would have been a little over the top, there would be time later. I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
Eventually twilight hinted it was time to climb down, I looked back to where I had come from and noted another way back, memorized it and began sure footed and confidently downwards, Doc martins rubber soul on sand stone, no problem. Down across the bowled bare rock then firm footed up across the rubble of fallen rock and debris and then into the aromatic pine forest.
It looked like the place had burned a few years ago as many of them were blacked all seemed to have bled resin that smelled strong and smokey and hung in solid wax like drips from all of the trees
My feet crunched on large dry pine cones and a soft dry carpet of long curved needles, the wind blew gently through the canopy. I stopped to listen and let Cynthia play with my hair, it sounded like the sea and her fingers gave me tingles.
Little tufts and hints of green were making their way up into the world of sunlight again, just hints, the deer and moose tracks I saw all through the woods had obviously noticed too. I was most certainly stepping lighter today. I was looking.
I came to a group of curios trees, one of them was bent in a what seemed a remarkable way in there amongst all the straight lines of its companions. It looked like a seat.
“This is the place to close your eyes” she said.
So I sat there closed my eyes, felt the energy flow inwards and expand outwards. I was lost to it for some time.
Then after what seemed quite some time. I saw a woman, she was a mother, reaching for a what seemed a young boy. He was trying to get to her and she was beckoning him powerfully and with real longing. He seemed upset, something had its hands on his shoulders, holding him back. He was struggling. After a while she dropped her arms to her side
She said “What is the state of your mind?”
I came too with the twilight all around me now, but there would be no rush to make it back today. I knew exactly where I was. I didn’t try to explain the seeing then. I just let it be. I knew something was coming that would teach me something.
After a slow dreamy walk back to Hummingbird, we drove curling and sweeping sensually and slowly back down through the deepening reds and oranges towards the town and the startling bright lights of Springdale.
It wasn’t so bad, people just enjoying themselves, everybody looked relaxed. My body was really tried and I thought, I need to stretch out tonight. I checked a few places. A creepy German lady, at least I think she was, with big teeth said it a very strong accen
“Ah, you are English”
“Yes I am” I said quietly
“Only von of you, oh dear”
She looked me up and down and then it seemed when she felt she had me in a place of really wanting it, she hit me with the price ‘plus tax’ she added but I’d already said no to her in my mind. I wanted a bed, not a character reference. Pompass ass.
I found a motel after only once or twice up and down the main street, everywhere had Full – No Vacancies signs and I had given myself a price limit and to be honest it all looked like it was going to be a little to pricey for me.
I got a tap on my left shoulder, Left shoulder, had to be JC I looked right and there was a sign “Vacancies” excellent. I just knew it would work out
We swung in an Nepalese guy said “Oh I’m sorry we are full”
I said “Your sign says vacancies”
He explained that that was for a room with a broken door, that you could lock it from the inside but not the outside. We went up to have a look. It was clean with two huge solid double beds. Very nice, I was sold, but took one last drive along the road. There was nowhere else to sit, Nobody wanted a guy with a lap top and a beer. They were selling food so fair enough they were busy.
So that was that I went back and he gave me a decent price too considering were we were. I tried to set myself up to write outside looking across at the dark shape of the cliffs but I was far to tired and scattered and allowed myself to be distracted. Couldn’t settle myself down. I was really annoyed with myself, for reasons to long to go into right now. It was a nice place and a wasted opportunity to relax.
I realized what I’d been shown, I had something wonderful to express but with a scattered mind allowed something to get in the way and hold me back. Lesson learned. I had seen it and then experienced it. Lesson learned.
I was perhaps really to tired and just not in the mood. So I went down to the car to get a few things in my bare feet as it was a warm evening and stubbed my toe on a concrete parking bollard, so badly it bled, I think I may have broken my second toe. It hurt so bad I can’t tell you. I hit it so hard my leg ached all night It will almost certainly limit my walking now.
But the startling thing is that what I had seen and heard was real. I am not making this up, and I say that for myself, not for anybody else. For all my searching’s when we are answered it is hard to believe
She had said ”What is your state of mind?” and that is something to work on for sure.