For the next 7 or 8 years, we returned to Southern Utah, each time to a different hike, a different beautiful canyon, and lots of fun adventure. The second year we went, my brother invited his good friend, Steve, to go with us. Neither of us knew it for years to come, but Steve and I turned out to be soul mates, and ended up dating and then getting married after six more years of spring break hikes.
There is something that is hard to describe about being alone in nature. When you are miles and miles from any people, and all you hear is the breeze and trickling water and all you feel is the sand and warm water on your feet, and you feel the load of your pack on your back - there is an independence and a spiritual connection that takes place. Walking for hours a day, getting into your own rhythm, communing with your thoughts - it's so rejuvenating. But not rejuvenating like a cold shower or a spa day. It's rejuvenating like an actual rebirth. Like you feel as if you have never been alive until those moments.
When I am hiking, it is me and mother nature. It is beautiful, amazing, awesome, and grueling, torturous and scary all in the same day. Sometimes in the same hour. I have never pushed myself as hard as I do when I hike. I am acutely aware that there is no one to call to come save me or to haul me out. I have to pull myself up, no matter how tired, no matter how exhausted, no matter how sick I feel. I just keep walking.
Sometimes in the canyons, there is an overgrowth of bushes and weeds that you either have to bushwhack through or somehow climb above. Some days are endless ups and downs in the sand, or thwacks in the arms and legs with whip like branches, missteps into sloshy mud or quicksand, or wading through waist deep water. There are frogs, lizards, spiders and crawdads.
Then there are the beautifully warm days where you walk along a creek bed in an inch or two of water for miles, the squishy sand massaging your feet. There are green cottonwood trees against the perfectly blue sky, and the arches and water streaked red sandstone towering high above you. Or you find some ancient pictographs or some ruins - it's truly fascinating to think that there were people living here thousands of years ago.
When I am out there, l am me. That is where I feel truly, completely free and content.
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