I WASN’T PREPARED FOR THIS – A COMPLETE TRANSFORMATION IN THE PARIA RIVER CANYON
Transformations await you in the magnificent Paria River Canyon, but what kinds, you may ask? Let me show you..
Although this is typically outside the realm of most blog articles, I thought I’d share this article I had written for a writing contest to show a different side of backpacking and the magical experiences some encounter. I hope you’re able to find a similar transformation here as well.
I WASN’T PREPARED FOR THIS
After months of planning, my group of friends and I began our trek into Paria River Canyon, within the Vermilion Cliffs. Prepped, packed, and eager to get out on this journey.
The sunrise brought out an assortment of deep maroons, bright oranges, and blacks with blue hues; that layered within the massive walls of sandstone. Alongside the canyon, ferns nestled in any obtainable water sources that trickled down. So many absolutely bewildering sights we had never expected to see.
This canyon had us wondering; What are other canyons like? Did they all have such unique colors and sounds? How were these colors in the sediment made? And many more questions were pondered on.
The voices filled the canyon, echoing like an amphitheater. The echoes grew faint, revealing that we were truly alone. Alone in the sense that there is no honking, screaming, bulldozing, or alarms going off. The canyon brought a blissfully encasing silence.
The silences can be so unique here, bringing about sounds I would have normally never heard. The soft orange sand compacting beneath my deep tread boots, giving off a subtle hushhhh sound. The sturdy trekking poles hitting the rocks creating gentle metallic ticks. My backpack swaying back and forth, slushing lukewarm water.
With 7 liters of water in a 55lb pack, there was that realization; there’s no drinkable water out here, and nothing growing that I could forage if I needed food. I was fully responsible for rationing and strategically using my supplies. A heightened sense I was not familiar with.
After many days; my body throbbing and aching, knees wobbling, back tender, and mole skins on my heels and a couple of toes. I started achieving a state of mind nothing else can bring.
My mind racing with instinctual survival techniques and scenarios. Mentally preparing myself for everything and everything that could possibly arise in the canyon.
Suddenly, a beam of light slightly peaks over the Paria River Canyon and onto my face, putting me into an instant daze. My eyes gently shut, and a breeze crossed my nose, deeply inhaling and opening my eyes on the exhalation. All of a sudden, when I looked around I could only see the area that was lit up by this beam of light, everything else around it was pitch black. The silences deepened. I wasn’t prepared for this.
I began to face myself; My desires, my adventures, my life’s fulfillment. Had I achieved everything I wanted? Have I loved? Was there true joy? Did I experience true friendship? I was shaking my head mostly yes to all of these.
SOMETHING CAME OVER
Although I hadn’t traveled everywhere I had wanted, mostly feelings of content rushed through me, there was still something that felt like it was missing. I looked around this beam of light and still only saw darkness and complete silence. Continuing to question what this unfinished piece is, I finally broke out in uncontrollable tears and realized what it is. I want to give more! Give more to my community, those in need, the planet, the people, and beyond.
Tears continued running down my face, eyes shut, and my smile grew as big as could be. After opening my eyes once more, suddenly I could see beyond the beam and trekked back towards my friends.
My friends were about a half-mile up the trail and waited once they stopped hearing my footsteps. Although it seemed like minutes to them, it felt like hours to me.
I continued to look back at the spot where I was. Gratitude for the canyon continued to fill me, thank you for showing me what I needed. I will forever appreciate the clarity that backpacking brings, but there was something special about Paria River Canyon, in the Vermilion Cliffs, that should be shared with all.
In hopes that you get to find that piece that is missing or even find the serenity within yourself.; I reference this beautiful article because, nothing, these magnificent moments are what makes travel worth it, forever and always! Join me!