Friday, September 2, 2011

Into the Great Wide Open

The car twisted up the narrow roads that traced Zion Park’s many mountains. I rode shotgun while my friend Bill did his best to balance keeping his eyes on the road while taking in the park around us.

On top of Angel's Landing in Zion
The sun had barely come up, but it glinted off the ribbon of river below us and made the rock walls glow in a thousand shades of red and orange, like the lingering embers of last night’s campfire.

It was the second stop on our western journey in 2009. Bryce Canyon was at our backs and the Grand Canyon on the horizon.

We lived in shades of exhaustion.

Sleep came easily every night after a day of driving, a day of hiking, or some combination therein. I relished the warmth of the fire on my tired legs, the ease with which the beer went down, and the way the food (any food) transformed into a gourmet meal.

Each year comes with its own trials.  Our first year, we unzipped our tent bag only to find that it had no poles, so we spent our first night "sleeping" in the car.  When we bought a tent the next day, it was between the $100 eight person tent or the $20 junior tent.  Naturally we settled for economy and managed to squeeze two six-foot-plus dudes into a 6x4 tent.

That was two years ago. And last year’s trip took on a similar flavor: CA wine country, Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite.
Climbing or sliding down Half Dome; the
dots at the bottom are people.

It started when we were in high school. It was a much simpler trip then with, one could argue, better accommodations. We spent our days sunning on the Jersey Shore, hitting the boardwalk’s mini-links, and, let’s face it, the beer went down just as easily back then too.

But as that thing called adulthood approached, and Bill and I found one another on opposite ends of the country after college, we decided to not only keep our summer tradition alive, but up the ante.

And so, the next installment of what’s come to be known as “Bill and Brad’s Expedition” begins this afternoon. We’ll meet in Denver this evening, then set out to Arches, Craters of the Moon, and the Grand Tetons over the next eight days. Drive, camp, hike, repeat.

I always find that while these trips are physically exhausting, one might argue not even a vacation at all, I returned refreshed, not only for life but for my running. Of course, I have a couple sets of running clothes, you know, “just in case” the mood strikes me to lace up and sneak in a trail run.

But I’m amazed at when I come back how all the nagging injuries, the tight hammies, hips, and IT Bands have suddenly unlocked since I don’t spend my entire day compressing them in an office chair.

On that drive up and out of Zion, I thumbed through the park’s NPS guide and came to this quote, “Break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

Time to start scrubbing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...