Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park
For the last leg of our vacation and before heading back to Vegas, I had the incredible privilege of hiking in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. As we have already confirmed, I am not a big fan of uphill hiking variety, so by the end, I hope you'll know which park I plan to add to my "must go back" list.
It's not really a canyon. It's actually a bunch of natural amphitheaters, but canyon sounds a lot better. However, it is also made up of hoodoos, and I really don't know why they couldn't have just named it "Hoodoo National Park" or something.
It was a rather chilly day in Utah, but luckily we purchased some cool Grand Canyon sock hats the day before. As we picked our hiking poison and made our way to the trailhead, small snowflakes sputtered around us. I actually didn't mind, because pine trees deserve to have the beautiful accent of snow. If Bryce Canyon taught me anything, it's that I freakin' love pine trees.
Once again, I was in awe of the colors that surrounded me. Reds, oranges, browns, greens (pine trees, remember?) and even blends of white. The most unique thing about Bryce was how we were actually in the bottom of the "canyon." Yes, I realize my last post was literally talking about how I hiked through Antelope Canyon, but this was different. There was wildlife and an ecosystem. It was more than just walking through a crack; it was experiencing a little world surrounded by hoodoos!
While I did really enjoy trekking through Bryce, it was nearly a 3-hour hike that featured constantly changing terrain. Switchbacks, naturally formed tunnels, snow and rocks were all accounted for on this trail. And can we just briefly talk about climbing to the top of this giant divot in the earth? Toned. Calves. I thought I had struggled with the Grand Canyon, but I think my mental will-power made Bryce a lot worse. By the time we reached the end, I was in tears. My self-confidence, fitness and mentality were really challenged; I was mad at myself for not being in better physical shape. I mean come on, I am 20 years old and there were 50-something-year-old ladies scaling this incline better than I was! But, you know what, I still made it to the top. It continues to be a reminder that I am capable of more than I think, but that maybe it is okay to make changes, too. I think the morals of this story are 1.) you have to live your life and 2.) you should start preparing for a hiking trip early..like months in advance.
Zion National Park
I had been eagerly awaiting our trip to Zion all week. As embarrassing as it may be, a beauty YouTuber and vlogger I used to watch all the time had mentioned Zion a few times, considering her and her husband live in Utah. As soon as there was talk about including Zion in our itinerary, I was advocating heavily for the pros of traveling there. It obviously didn't take much convincing, but I was determined.
We visited Zion on Friday, May 19, 2017. The weather was gorgeous, I was excited and I fell in love with the Virgin River. We started out with the Emerald Pools and then spontaneously decided we would go horseback riding. Heck yes! That was honestly the best decision we could have made. Not only did I get to ride a mule through the Virgin River, but I met Talon, a true Utah cattle guy with awesome ranch stories about his grandfather. If it weren't for the fact that they raised Herefords, I might have invited myself over for a tour. (Absolutely no offense to anyone who raises Hereford cattle, I just had a rotten 4-H beef project that happened to be a Hereford.) Except as the tour ended, I made a fool of myself during my dismount when I feel off the tallest mule ever born. Smooth move, Sheradan.
After an exciting adventure of trail riding, we strolled along the Riverside Trail. We finally made it to the brink of the Virgin River. It was so awesome. There was just something about those rushing blue waters, sunshine and hovering red formations. I will go back to Zion someday.
The Conclusion of Our Vacation
A month later, I am still grateful for this summer excursion. I imagine I will be grateful for a lifetime. Life is very different across the globe, and that includes the scenery. I grew up with flat land and never-ending views of cornfields. I appreciate it and admire it, but I am so thankful that I have the opportunity and freedom to travel. My "places to go" list keeps growing, but I don't think there is much wrong with that. The world is too amazing to stay in one corner of it for too long.