It is a long standing tradition in my family that when we go hiking (usually a mountain) we greet the mountain with, “I respect you, but I will beat you.” and afterwards, as we are a little sweatier but a little bit more accomplished we say, “Mountain, I respect you, but I beat you.” Because hiking isn’t just a walk in the woods. It is a connection. It is a recognition of the power and life of the landscape.
The day after I hiked Zion, I made my way to Bryce Canyon, which is only an hour away. It is an ofter over-looked park in the area, but my favorite, perhaps of my whole trip. It is other worldly.
Zion is a park that is in the canyon. It is easily accessible by shuttle if one isn’t the hiking type. But Bryce Canyon makes you earn that experience. Roads and paved trails surround the rim of the canyon and the views are spectacular, but to really be part of it, to connect, is to hike down into it. So I did.
I did a 6.5 mile figure 8 trek that took me up and down and all through the canyon. There is very little consistency in this trail other than hard work and breathtaking beauty. Also lots of breath taking! It traverses in and out of the canyon, switchbacking up and back in many times. I am generally well prepared for hikes but wished I had 3 times as much water as I did.
I sweat into the land and during one particular upwards set of switchbacks a woman told her husband, “Let’s give this young lady the right of way. She’s earning it!” I let out the best kind of thank you I could muster in my exhaustion and tunnel vision hiking (“get to the top, get to the top, get to the top”). Thank you. I was earning it.
The land, the canyon, the life and hoodoos earned my respect in the end. But I beat it.