by Keegan Gray about a year ago in nature

102 Years of Exploration


Happy Birthday Zion, and all of the other National Parks!! I've been so eager to talk about my trip to Zion although I restrained myself so I could publish it on the National Parks Service 102nd birthday! It seemed fitting.

I first want to express my gratitude to all of the current and past women and men for keeping our national park system alive and well. These parks hold so many memories for so many people including myself. All of the parks hold such unique and important ecosystems and I know it is not an easy job managing thousands, upon thousands of acres of beautiful land that we could never replace. So I thank each and every one of you.

Even though I've only been to a handful of national parks, I can say Zion is by far my favorite so far. I don't what it is about Zion, but it seems to be plucked straight out of a fantasy setting. The towering cliffs that could rival skyscrapers, the vibrant and eye-catching vegetation, and my personal favorite—the river that cuts through it all. All of this combined into one location creates an ambiance that is full of life and wonder.

While I could have spent days on end at Zion, I was only able to spend a day there. Given though, it was a very full and active day (so much that I was nodding off during the bus ride back). The trail I was able to explore was one of the most famous trails at Zion, The Narrows, and they are famous for good reason. They are some of the most photogenic and distinctive trails in any national park.

The cavern creates a different hiking experience because you are wading through the Virgin River upstream taking numerous twist and turns like a treasure map and you don't know what's around the next turn. Our trek was a little bit different since it had rained early that week and the water was a couple of inches higher than usual and it was the color of mud. Despite all of this, I had the time of life and felt something inside of me that hadn't come alive in a while.

During the trip, there were many mishaps: tripping and falling into the muddy water, stubbing toes on unseen rocks, sunburns, wet feet and a lot of splashing... and I couldn't have loved it more. I feel like recently going on these trips have become more of getting the perfect picture to post and share with the world, and there is nothing wrong with taking pictures and videos and sharing them with everyone, I did my fair share of video taken with my handy GoPro and love looking back and reminiscing about the trip. However, at the same time, I feel like people (especially younger more impressionable kids) are so focused on looking good in these pictures that they forget that the number of likes and comments won't matter in five years, but your experiences with your friends and family are worth so much more than and will stay with you a lot longer.

I will admit I am a bit guilty of this as well. Making sure I post at the right time to get the maximum number of likes that I can, making sure I take cute pictures and doing them over if I don't like them; but when I'm in a place like Zion, in the Narrows, surrounded by cliffs and caverns that have been here long before me and will be here long after me, I can't help but get a bit giddy and enjoy it. Wading through that dirty water awakens a deep part of my soul that I was afraid I had lost. I think a lot of us tend to lose that child-like ability to just enjoy and not worry about anything else. Nothing mattered at that moment, not my upcoming junior year of college, work or that my feet were soaked to the bone. I was just enjoying getting a bit dirty and laughing with my boyfriend and his family talking about nothing in particular.

The Narrows gave me a place to just simply enjoy myself. My chest felt lighter between the cliffs with the sun shining down on us, only wondering how far we can go. I wish I could bottle up the feelings of weightlessness, raw enjoyment and pure wonder and keep them so I can unleash them on myself whenever I need them the most. I want to remember that feeling during late nights hunched over a desk finishing homework or when I've been staring a report due in four hours after a day of working on it. If you feel like you have lost your sense of child-like wonder, you feel like you are dull to any new excitement—do yourself a favor a visit the Narrows and don't worry about anything for a day or two. It'll reignite that passion you feared you have lost—it did for me.

The Narrows seem to be unfazed by anything. The streams of sun seemed to be dancing in between the walls of rocks, creating rich colors and showing us why it is one of the most photogenic places people come to. The sights were just drawing me in, tempting me to go off exploring and daring me to never come back. I understand people's desire to get off the grid and just camp out under the stars—because nothing bothers you. You don't seem to care about anything else other than just what is around you because it's so much bigger than us. These places have stood against so much and will continue to endure.

Forget all of life's crap. The Narrows is the passage you can escape to and forget everything you want to. Relearn something about yourself. Light that fire you once had because that is what makes your life yours. Zion has been inspiring people for 102 years and it's not going to slow down any time soon.

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Keegan Gray

Just an amateur college writer just sharing her two cents 

See all posts by Keegan Gray