Our fitness expert takes a road trip to nourish his peace of mind.
"Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit." -Edward Abbey
Just seven hours in the car brought me to Zion National Park, at the bottom of Utah.
Landscapes, that when first presented in paintings at a World Fair no one believed existed in the real world, who's almost alien quality pulls you in and forces the spirit to be reminded of its connection to Earth.
Just before Pride I wrote about taking a quick trip out to Palm Springs for a mini reboot.
This week the trip is longer and more adventurous but can still be done in a long weekend. I left Thursday at 5pm and returned home Sunday evening.
My goals were to enjoy solitude, and connect with the land.
Restricting my budget seems to help with this kind of goal.
Luxe trips have a different agenda and outcome; you choose your own adventure.
The drive is beautiful and I chose to stop at Primm, just outside Vegas, to sleep in the insanely cheap rooms ($25!!) so I could wake up early to finish the drive into Zion two hours away.
If you get in early enough you can get in line for the first-come camp sites at South Campground. If you get in line later than 8:30am you're really risking not getting a space.
Always Google your campground reviews for which sites are best before you arrive! Site 77 was right on the Virgin River and I snatched it up.
Spend your first day enjoying the town, and decompressing in the river with it's ultra soft sandy banks. Let the hiking come tomorrow. Down shifting into this slower pace takes effort when we come from a life of constant activity/connectivity.
Snap your photos, then put the phones away.
Be in the moment by listening to what's happening around you.
Let the insane landscape present the scene, then also let it pass by without having to document and share to the world.
I chose two hikes that are world renowned: The Narrows and Angel's Landing.
Shuttles run every 15 minutes in the park and start at 6am. I got to each hike by 7am this way, which kept me from being in the throng of the crowds.
They really can change your experience so beat the heat and the masses by getting out early.
The Narrows is a hike that literally walks up the Virgin river. This is a slot canyon with some places where walls shoot straight up some 2,000ft. You're wet the entire time so wear appropriate gear.
For shoes I went with a local San Diego company, LALO Tactical. They design shoes with Navy Seal teams and fitness in mind.
My "Grinder" shoes had water vents, a toe guard, and traction that made the slippery trek a non-issue.
Bring a hiking stick; the third point of contact is a huge help on submerged rocks.
Don't forget your pack will get wet, so a dry bag inside is a good idea. Bring lots of water, and use the restroom before hand.
There are infants on packs and kids of all ages so it can be done within most skill levels.
I went three hours up river before napping, eating, snapping selfies, and heading back down. It is tough and super rewarding.
The next day was Angel's Landing. In 2.4 miles you will gain 1,500ft of elevation.
At the top there are portions 28-inches wide with vertical drops to either side.
A chain is in place during these nutty portions and you will need both hands and feet to scale the trail. This isn't for those that can't overcome a fear of heights.
Angel's Landing is a hike where you truly feel as though you've accomplished something and gained some awesome travel tales.
It's adventures like these that shatter any of those "I'm stuck" feelings back home. Want to feel differently about your life?
Do something truly out of the norm and revel in your own capabilities.
Stay present by noting your surroundings. Avoid complaining to your travel group if you have one.
Negativity causes other to want to respond in kind with another negative statement. Things will ache and be scraped, get into it.
This hike is tough, and just by being there you've already won.
Go as far as you can, be proud.
Fitness is a mental and physical game.
Give yourself a challenge then reap the rewards of facing it head on.
Want any more tips on Zion, or a training plan designed to get you ready for other activities? Talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The mountains are calling, and I must go." -John Muir