Yesterday I woke up with what I used to call the desire to “run away to the woods” or “pitch my tent,” which simply means that I need to get out in nature, preferably by myself. Living near Zion National Park, I was thinking about the hikes I recommend to people – Observation Point, the Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and Angels Landing, which is the one I chose for yesterday. When people have asked me about Angels Landing I’ve suggested hiking early – by 7 am if possible, take plenty of water, have a light snack, camera, and enjoy the walk up there, making sure to stop and appreciate the beauty.
Angels Landing, all by myself was the plan for my morning. Saying that in my thoughts reminded me of when my son was about three and I wanted to help him get dressed. He told me he could do it all by himself, which he did. When he appeared in plaid seersucker shorts with a striped shirt, I started to tell him that they didn’t match and he quickly pointed out the colors in the shirt and shorts matched. Some mother’s might have made their child change clothes, but he was right, they all matched. Since Michael was and is a lot like me – determined to do it alone and living in a world where we blend colors and mix textures, I allowed him to dress himself. As I wrote that just now, “blend colors and mix textures” I realized it was a great way to describe my relationship with Michael back then and even now.
I packed my camera and lenses because this hike would not only be about doing it solo, but I needed photos to create some new silk paintings from. My plan was to look through the lens with my artist’s eyes, seeking inspiration from landscapes, flowers, lines, colors, and textures.
I left before 7 am and stepped off the shuttle to begin my hike at 7:25 am. I was laughing at myself for checking the time since two weeks ago when Dan took me to the top of Angel’s Landing, he started it with noting the time. He also told me that he and his friends reached Scout’s Lookout in 30 minutes and asked if I thought we could do that. Not a chance. I figured it would take me 60-90 minutes. It took us 70 that afternoon. Before I left in the morning, he said he thought we did it in 45 minutes. I was disgusted, even pissed that he was challenging me, and decided that next time I wouldn’t share with him hiking plans I might have – meeting his passive-aggressive challenge with my passive-aggressive response. By the way, I got to Scout’s Landing in 50 minutes yesterday.
The hike begins along the Virgin River which flows through the Zion. I took a quick photo of the canyon to compare the shadows from beginning to the ending of my hike. I saw a few clumps of Indian Paintbrush along the path and stopped to take a photo of Tradescantia, also known as Blue Dicks by some local residents. My goal was to make it to the refrigerator (canyon area) without having to stop for a break, which I did. Once there, I walked along the trail and looking at all the different textures and lines made in the sandstone canyon walls. Waves. Everything was wavy, like the lines in water.
The next part of the hike was Walter’s Wiggles and two weeks ago I stopped every other bend to catch my breath. This time I stopped only once, halfway up, when I met Barb from Minnesota, who was probably in her 60’s. She was standing next to a tree with a wildflower guide in her hand and told me that it was her “cover” for taking a break. She told me that up until a few years ago the destination was her goal in hiking and biking, but now it really was about the journey and appreciating the beauty all around her. I shared with Barb that I used my camera as my “cover” to take breaks, and that my goal at that moment was less about the destination and more about the accomplishment – not allowing my fears to stop me.
I took a quick stop at Scout’s Lookout to check the time. A year ago I sat there for about an hour, taking photos, enjoying the view, and meeting other people who decided to make that the final destination. It’s wonderful for photos, a break, and connecting with god in Zion and there’s certainly no shame or loss of beauty by not continuing on to the top.
I continued up to the landing, taking a few photos of wildflowers growing in the rocks, different views out and down, and of lines created by nature, whether on the rocks, trees, or by shadows. A nice mix of photos for me to play with and be inspired by.
When I got to what seemed like the top, I asked a couple up and they told me it was the top. I replied, “I thought it was bigger.” They looked at me, each other, and both smiled. I can only imagine what they were thinking. I was thinking that the landing itself was bigger, and did find out that last time I walked down from the point where the couple was, to a larger landing, one that was bigger.
I found a spot to sit by myself, had some water and an oatmeal cookie, then sat with my eyes closed, enjoying the warmth of the sun. Without stopping to take photos at the top, the hike felt complete, so I packed my camera back in the bag and left. Once I returned to Scout’s Lookout I noticed the large number of people coming up the trail. I was grateful that something urged me to get out early to beat the sun and the crowds that morning.
A great way to start a day – in nature with god, almost alone, overcoming fears, and gaining inspiration for creating art.