The Art of Seizing the Moment: 3 Lessons from Zion National Park

April 25th, 2015:

At entrance with Randi
Woke up around 8:30 a.m. We drove over 500 miles just to make it to Kanab, landing in my grandma’s driveway around 1 a.m. I think the neighbors thought we were going to rob them.

After starting the day with a hearty breakfast of Cheerios and a whole grapefruit (it was my first time eating a grapefruit straight, and I think some of the juice shot me in the eye), we took off for Zion National Park.

Mike, my 6’2’’ uncle, Randi, and I crammed into my Honda Civic. That was the first big obstacle of the day. From Kanab, Zion sits 45 minutes  NW.  Our first picture stop was right outside of the entrance. My uncle loves to take pictures, especially when you least expect it. He would make for a good hunter. I mean that in the non-creepy kinda way.

One of those random pictures from uncle Mike (he got me good)

We parked our car at the park visitor center. The giant shuttle bus (I swear it fits over 40 people, is that legal?) came to pick us up. If I didn’t know any better, I would say we were riding on some giant prehistoric caterpillar. Two electric cars are hitched together, while the back swings freely of the front. We got stuck in the back, and I just hoped to make it to the first stop without becoming road kill.

The first stop was Court of the Patriarchs. Why three rocks reminded someone of Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as spiritual as the next guy, but try as I might, I couldn’t see the resemblance. I started looking for a face, moved to a nose, settled for even a pinky finger, but I just couldn’t see it. I still think the scenery is beautiful.

Modern Mormon settlers carried a much different perspective of the land when the park first opened in 1919. (almost a hundred years ago, crazy to think) “Is this any different than the rest of the country? Is it really wonderful?” settlers asked NY Times reporter Eyre Powell.[1] 

It's funny that we never notice how beautiful a thing really is when we get used to our surroundings and have nothing to compare them to.

Court of the Patriarchs (from left, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob)

We jumped back on the shuttle. The deeper we traveled into the canyon, the more I felt like I was entering Jurassic Park. Through the wild ride Zion taught me three things: the world is a small place, there’s no place to hide, and beauty is fleeting, but that’s what makes things beautiful.

The World is a Small Place

Towards the end of the day, we caught the shuttle back to the visitor center. It had started to rain cats, dogs, and maybe even horses. I mean, it was coming down in sheets. The bus driver told us with a straight face we couldn’t get on until we dried off. I thought that was really funny for a couple seconds, but then she told us she was kidding.

Crowds of people rushed to get on the bus and out of the weather. A huge family from India swamped the bus. I thought I was wet, but they put my wetness to shame. Still, out of all the tourists I spotted that day, this family had to be the happiest. They were having a blast using towels to mop up the rain, sharing laughs throughout the ride.

In the front of the bus, a longhaired boy spoke with his father in French (I took a French class once, right after taking a Spanish class, so the two mixed together to create Spench).  Standing directly across from me was a black woman with a white husband. Between all of us, I think we had the four corners of the earth covered pretty well.

It’s funny the things you remember. Here I am, sitting inside this beautiful, exotic canyon, and all I can think about is how small the world actually is.[2]

There’s No Place to Hide

Our second stop for the day was the Emerald Pools. Because of the rain, waterfalls spilled over the edges of many cliffs. This made the Emerald Pools especially beautiful, so the crazy weather really wasn’t that bad after all.

After a grueling 10 miles—ok, maybe 5 (ok, maybe 3.5 miles, 1 of which is paved, nothing like a paved trail to connect you with the wild)—we arrived at the lower pool.

Randi & I, Lower Emerald Pools

Waterfall crashing, Lower Pools

This was my favorite spot of the entire day. As I sat underneath the waterfall, each drop of water created a curtain. The more I focused my vision, the slower the steam of water seemed to move. At one point it was as if I could see each drop silently trickle over the lip of the cliff and pause in the air for a long time before crashing against the rocks beneath.

It was one of those rare moments when the curtain of worldly pressures lifted and I could see pure beauty in its natural form.

We hiked
to pools filled
with green juice
falling from heaven
slipping down
lips of cliffs,
captured in

There is no place to hide from the falls, from the water, from the beauty of the earth. Even when we have terrible days and it starts to rain on our parade, maybe a little rain is the only way to notice a sunny day. 

Waterfall, Lower Pools

Beauty is Fleeting, But that’s what makes it beautiful

By the end of the day, we were pretty much soaked. I even thought about going back home early, but I’m glad we chose to take on one last hike up the Canyon Overlook trail. Nature has a funny way of paying you back. Half way through our little hike, we stopped inside this little alcove that sheltered us from the rain. I spotted an older couple coming back from the overlook, but my eyes wandered past them.

Not more than 60 yards away stood a bighorn sheep on top of a boulder that jutted over the path. I thought I was going crazy because these animals rarely come out. Only 10 seconds later, a little baby bighorn sheep stumbled up the path to join the bigger sheep.

My only regret at the time was missing a camera strong enough to capture a great moment. An older couple came to the rescue. They loaned us a pair of binoculars just in time to see the pair of sheep scatter off the other side of the boulder into oblivion.

Even though I didn't capture the bighorn sheep on camera that day, I feel like something more important did happen; Zion captured me. 

Labels: Motivation

[1] Powell, E. (1919, Dec. 21). New National Park, Zion Canyon. The New York Times, pp. 48.
[2] The original name of Zion National Park was Mukuntuweap National Monument, but because some were afraid that tourist would not be able to pronounce a Spanish name and thus stay away from the park, they changed it to Zion

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