I get nostalgic thinking of Utah. The bold desert colors, the rock formations, the vastness of the land. It's all real and it's all spectacular. Its beauty is undeniable.
Surrounded by canyons, it was natural we would seek a way to sleep on the edge of one. After basking in the remoteness of our first find, we set up camp and made dinner. In the distance we saw and even admired a little lightning show nature put on. It was so far, though, our attempts at capturing it were pitiful. We retreated to our tent, both bellies and hearts full, oblivious to the thunderstorm headed in our direction. That night it made its way directly above us and stayed what seemed an eternity. When the sun finally came up the next morning, the wind had blown off the rain fly and caved in the tent. The rain had soaked our sleeping bags and turned the earth into three-inch-thick mud. That was Zion.
Heavy clouds seemed to follow us everywhere after that. Bryce, Dixie, Escalante. We couldn't escape them.
We dared hike up to the Delicate Arch at sunset one evening, which, at the time, seemed like a good idea. We arrived just as the last bit of light was beginning to fade. The arch was set against a myriad of muted colors visited here and there by bolts of lightning. Another one of nature's shows and a great idea, in fact, we reassured ourselves. The longer we stayed, the darker it got. Several snaps and glimpses in, our sensibilities returned and we hustled down the hill, hugging the ledge, scaling the slickrock. Before getting too far, millions of pellets of hard rain came crashing down, completely drenching us in a few short seconds. Darkness took over and fear sunk in. I had seen enough episodes of "I Shouldn't Be Alive" to be aware of the precariousness of the situation. Water came rushing through from all directions and without any light, everything looked unfamiliar. Actually a terrible idea, we muttered, mentally preparing ourselves for the worst. One slow, unsteady step at a time, we finally managed to make our way down to safety where park rangers feverishly ushered people out, warning against the possibility of a flash flood. That was Arches.
The following afternoon, we headed to the next park over. An unpaved road enticed us immediately and from high above, a speck was spotted moving across the canyon floor. Determined, we would also make our way down. Ignorance truly is bliss. With each foot covered, the road narrowed and narrowed until we were just a few feet from the cliff's edge. If our hearts jumped from our chests, they surely would have splattered into a million pieces thousands of feet below. We had to remind ourselves every now and then to breathe as the landscape drew us in deeper and deeper. At dusk we made it to camp. We went to sleep that night mesmerized by the views and still in full disbelief of the whole experience. That was Canyonlands.
As an aside, we later learned that the morning we woke from the thunderstorm in Zion, two friends entered the Narrows and while in there, a flash flood struck. From articles we read, after being stuck for several hours, one fortunately made it out alive, the other did not. His death hit really close to home. He was about our age, from Southern California, and was in the Narrows just less than 24 hours after us. Our hearts go out to his family. Though we didn't know him, we think of him often.