Now for all the good pictures! Utah is a gorgeous state, and one which Leah and I thoroughly enjoyed on our drive from Oregon to New Mexico. The first sight of note we stopped at was Bryce Canyon, which I had never been to. Bryce has breathtaking views, and, even in late May it can be a very cold place. Despite having a lot of layers and winter sleeping bags, we nonetheless froze while camping. I’m not sure if either of us would have agreed it was worth it at the time, but now, as I write this in our warm apartment, and as I sip not-frozen water, almost becoming a popsicle was a small price to pay for hiking around such a spectacular place.
From Bryce we went to Zion National Park, where I’d been once before, while in college. Zion is my third favorite national park in the whole US, only a hair under Death Valley and Joshua Tree. And this is why my hiking buddy Condie always says I liked deserts, and I do, though Zion has a lot more than just sand. On our first day in the park we climbed up Angel’s Landing, which like the previous time I had done it, made me quite nervous. It is a fun jaunt for 80% of the distance, then things get narrow and pretty soon you are clinging onto chains mounted in the rock with fatal drop-offs on either side. On a two foot-wide trail. Honestly, the hike is too harrowing.
But the view is great, too. Then the next day we went up to Observation Point, which I hadn’t done before, and I honestly can’t think of a better hike that I’ve ever done in my life—absolutely no exaggeration. It’s long, it’s beautiful, and it isn’t dangerous. When you start in the canyon valley there are plants, then you go through narrow passes that seem like caves, complete with small, dark ponds. Towards the second half of the hike you transition to a scrubby desert landscape, and then at the end you can see everything—you even look down upon Angel’s Landing. There weren’t crowds when we went and it’s a true American wonder.
Zion has some other interesting things worth seeing, like Weeping Rock or the Narrows, the latter of which is a stream they call a trail that seems to go on forever. It is cold, and the walls of the canyon are covered in hanging plants. Busses in Zion take you around everywhere, the people are friendly, and the park is built with a nod towards traditional and eco-friendly architecture. In a broad way, this is representative of a lot of Utah, people included. The state is perhaps just a little too much desert for me to call home (Condie would be shocked), but I love the occasional visit to see all the bluffs and red and yellow sandstone.
There’s a lot of good things about the state, but know what I liked best? Well there’s always a little corniness in these “Dating” posts, but I don’t really mind, because love is corny. I can remember many times when I’d try and find someone to hike places with, get sweaty and dirty with, freeze in a tent with, etc. with, and it never quite worked out. But then you find the one and she’s up for anything with you. Sometime during this trip I called my parents to find out where my grandmother’s ring was—the one my grandmother said I could use for a future marriage proposal. That’s what I remember about Utah, and what I like about Utah more than anything.
–Jeff and Leah