“Paperback writer” – The Beatles now that is a good way to start the day, what a cracking riff, it was so loud that I had to mentally turn the sound down. In a dream we’d been talking about Paul McCartney’s bass playing and then about his car, which had the strangest wheels they looked like wooden Catherine wheel fireworks,
I’d said “they don’t make cars like that anymore”
I knew that today was going to be about writing, I took note. But also I knew that I wouldn’t be pushing it too much today, My toes was not in a good way, I’m not sure whether it is broken, perhaps not but one thing for sure is that it is swollen and very painfull. It was hard to put my boots on, can’t believe I’ve done that to myself right now. What an idiot.
I would go on a gentler hike, I thought, but I would go no matter what. So made some wraps cheese avocado tomato’s and spinach leaves wrapped them up and in. Then went to the motel reception to check out and give Sundin the key back to the door that didn’t lock and have my gratis continental breakfast, which was coffee and toasted bagels , grateful for it anyway. He’s a good guy.
I had slept deeply, showered changed my clothes and felt, well, I’m not sure. Just very quiet.
I looked up at the TV and did a double take, a bomb in Brussels Airport ? I couldn’t believe it but of course I could and did. It switched top the pictures of the underground. I asked a guy sat there what had happened. He said there had been two bombs at the airport and one on the metro in Brussels. It was jarring as I watched the footage it looked surreal, it’s close to home.
I stood in Zion surrounded by utter beauty the irony was deeply saddening. I left the TV screens to repeat the footage over and over and over. Made my way over to a little coffee bar over near the visitors center and asked the guy if could plug in and was lost for a good couple of hours.
The Beatles kept surfacing every time I stopped, what a great song, what a riff. Superb
It seemed right to get the tourist bus through the national park. I had hurt myself. When I had finished writing and stepped outside into the clear pristine air breathed in and I could feel my mood sitting in my body and was quite surprised by its ferocity. I kept myself to myself. I wanted to shake it off. It wasn’t just tired, it was something else I was aware and kept an eye on it as it seemed to be watching me.
A ranger challenged me as I walked back across to my car, I said I’m parked over there.
He said “Your parked where? Step over here”
I hated him!! An ugly ex military guy throwing his aging weight about. It was also my mood of course drawing that sort of thing closer to me too. I put my bag on a wall, took my wallet out and showed him my pass.
He softened “Your good” he said “You need a jacket”
“I’m good” I hissed. We glanced at one another over a cold wall and I walked past.
Got to the bus stop to find a long queue and myself behind about 8 young guys who had all just discovered in jokes and cow impressions. It was jarring me. I was startled just how jarring it was. I just wanted to be away and I was away but found myself in a queue behind teenage mutant ninja cows.
So I got off at the living history museum. That was ok. I had forgotten or lost my pens somewhere so I asked another ranger and he kindly gave me a one and off I went on the next bus.
The Zion valley bus is super efficient, every 10 or 15 minutes ferrying people up the canyon to the different trails, I’d decided on the Angles Landing hike a 6.5 mile hike the board said strenuous, perfect. I stepped off the bus there into a cotton wood grove with its new leaves radiating a light green cam to us underneath. Then stiff legged it across the Virgin River bridge which apparently shifts about a million tons of debris down stream every year. Hard to believe to see it right at that point of the year. Harmless looking and gentle.
I had expected a few people out there but there were hundreds. It was also a paved trail all the way up and the purist fur in me all stood on end, but my aching legs and painful foot talked sense and combed it all back down again.
It has to be said that there is nowhere I doubt to match its magnificence, it isn’t just the mountains, it is the colors and without the paved paths there would be very few of these people who could have made the journey here, including me right then, It was all ok
It was still a shock at just how many people were out on the trail though. I forcibly locked down and, kept custody of my eyes I never looked up except at the views and as usual, as I ascended my limbs loosened up an my foot seemed to hurt less. I powered on looking back every few minutes. Truly beautiful, also the family weren’t with me I was on my own. They left me too it.
It was an interesting thing just ploughing onwards and upwards catching glimpses and zings of conversations every few seconds all the way up
“I have a problem I know”
“People got drunk and talked shit”
“I get so irritated”
“We’re having a rough time on vacation”
“I don’t want to be it”
The whole trail was alive with chatter and the sound of feet, it was the sound of an army on the march, puffing and panting, wheezing and ‘oh my Goding’ the clanking of cans and metal and plastic coats rubbing. I sped on enjoying the exertion.
“Your just suffering”
“They need to eat”
“Because you know, it really does matter”
“Hidden trail is more sheltered, because you know, it’s more hidden”
”How was the party last night”
“When he got married he took his wife’s last name, which I thinks ridiculous”
I did notice at one point a guy stopped and was just looking up. I followed his gaze and there sat up above was a great horned owl tucked away in a red alcove above the trail looking down on the long trudging trail of clattering chattering humanity, not many even noticed it. It was quite a site and it was looking down on me too. I pushed on, I pushed hard.
“And like, I honestly was like, I so didn’t care”
“It gets to me more than most people I suppose”
“Oh I love chocolate, for sure”
“Past wrongs and rights”
“As if I’m looking through the eyes of God right now”
And then it began to rain, a cold rain. Onwards always onwards.
“I think if I’d packed gloves, I’d like them right now and never ever part with them”
“I’ve seen people coming back down who were ahead of us”
“I think the top is near”
“Wasup, how’s it goin”
“No way, hey that’s mine”
“It’s easy to get angry cos I never felt so secure”
That was the murmuring of the Americans and possibly Canadian I couldn’t tell the difference right then and in amongst all of this chatter was the chatter of the English, Germans, French, Japanese, Native Americans, Polish and I am absolutely sure Hungarians, they get everywhere don’t they, but there was nobody to point them out to me today. Move, onwards, come on
And then it began snowing and it was cold and I had just my jersey and my T shirt on. I didn’t mind, I was warm, walking fast. Pushing.
“Just a little more”
“I remember yeah, Switzerland
“And I looked and said that’s as far as I go”
“Snowing yep your right it’s snowing”
“In their shorts and the snow came in and I just thought good luck with that”
Then I came out onto a small plateau and I looked to my right, there was a bottle neck over at the trail to the Angels Landing, if there had been any angels landed on there, they would have been toppled off into the valley below by the and more pushing from behind. Its a huge pinnacle of a dome with view all the way back down the valley and but I thought, Nah!
So I carried on up a little while longer and the snow was coming in in flurries, my hair was wet through but I was warm with exertion and strain, it was a steep path up there, around another turn and then.. and then there was nobody there at all. It was just me. I walked over and down a little to the sheer edge peering down at the road far far below. The vertical red cliffs the looped road and the virgin river and I just stood still silent and motionless snow danced around me, I looked with peripheral vision seeing the trails the snow made. Whirling and lifting and diving and dancing. I was lost to it, wonderful moments of stillness. It was worth it just to be there for those few minutes
But the cold and wet were beginning to penetrate my stillness and my jersey.
I kept the Custody of my eyes on the way down too, or tried too. I did notice as people were coming up the trail some grey faced, some pale and white, some were blank, some flushed some gaunt some mouths open And I thought
“Bless them all each and everyone of them. Well done”
It had lifted. I didn’t quite realize then. A little further down I sat and slowly ate one of the wraps I’d made earlier looking out on Zion. Far down below the milky dark grey waters of the Virgin River had cut through the cream sand. The fresh sparkling lime green cotton wood ribbon hugging the banks jealously all the way out of canyon far away, luminous and bright within the center of all this heavy red and weaving in and out of this, the sinuous dark red tourist road
Slopes of dark red rubble, fallen from the heights above were covered in dark green cedar and resting vertically on these slopes sheer cliffs of red orange Navajo sandstone, fractured split and rounded by ages of water over and through them. The cliffs were painted in dark varnished patches like an old house painted long ago now peeling and flaking exposing the ancient pink undercoat.
On the ledges and spires the daredevil pines standing precariously on every vantage point, roots clinging ad searching out the weak spots in the rock. And up above it all the creamy white domes, lightly powdered with snow, mist flowing gently down along the rifts and clefts and down and down and down your eyes follow.
Ages of hot and cold hot wind and rain working away at the land, it was astonishing to sit and look into the land and I suppose that is what is remarkable about this place, it is all so visible, everything working on everything else.
I ‘d looked up and caught a few nods and smiles from a passing face. My foot had been ok on the way up but began to trouble me again on the way back down but the weather had passed, and as I realized it, the ringing came back and as I looked out across the incredible canyon the sun came back out.
“Hello” I said cheerfully and quietly relived.
The coincidence was remarkable, there is magic in these things.
A little further along down at river level I noticed a little sandy trail leading down to the to it. Nobody is going to be down there I thought and I’d like to have a nosey and maybe just sit by the river.
So I hopped down and walked to the rivers edge. There was a piles of flash flood wood, so I sat down on ne, it was comfortable so I just naturally laid back. I didn’t realize the significance at the time. I listened to the water, water, away with me.
I was looking on a scene as if from a painting by a great Italian master. There was a naked man laying back but reaching up with his right arm his left arm propping him up. He had his back to me I could see his profile. Above him hovering was a beautiful voluptuous woman, facing me and also naked, she was leaning downwards towards him. Her right arm outstretched towards his. In her left hand she seemed to be holding something silver or metallic, I saw it glint. He was lifting. I don’t know why but I was curious that she had long strong sandy golden curls. The scene was framed by a large golden gilt picture frame and seemed to be hung on a bright orange background. It was the fact that I noticed the orange that brought me around
I wasn’t sure how long I’d laid there but it was certainly time to go. I’d not asked, I’d just followed, I am sure it was Cynthia it had been her yesterday too.
The tourist bus back was packed, I craned my neck up into the heights above, smiled at the green of the cottonwoods warmed to all those sat next to me.
I decided I was leaving tomorrow so one more night in the unlocked motel to rest my muscles and allow me to stretch. There would be no more beds now till Ghost ranch
I went directly to the Sundun at the motel to take the room for the second night. He said cheerfully
“Oh very good, I save your room anyway I was expecting you, very good, no problem, don’t rush”
And then to down the road to Jacks Sports Bar, sipping IPA Brutal no rules kick boxing and vicious fights on the Ice hockey pitch flickered on the TV screens around the place. It was awful and compelling. One of the fighters a handsome good looking man and a champion, His eyes the darkest brown, almost black. They were terrifying. Next to me two large guys came in. The bar man was animated
“You ok there, you doing ok everything ok, you need anything you ok over there over, you need another”
He was doing a good job but I began to think am I ok sat here? I didn’t want to get drunk. Everytime I spoke to say no thanks the big guy side glanced me, I felt his heaviness, the two of them never spoke all the time they were there, just grunted. Hm
At one point I looked up to see 3 cowboys in pastel pink and blue shirts all in white straw cowboy hats. It was startling I did a double take and they did a double take at me. I kept my head down and worked on
I was looking again even if gently and carefully. Time to move on tomorrow. Time to go.