So we were able to see the grand canyon :). The dust storm wasn’t quite that big I guess. And it was awesome as expected. It was cold though! We arrived in the evening and it felt cold, but we just figured we were being pansies because we just came from 100+ degree weather. But when we got up in the morning and got in the car to drive to the trail we were going to take into the canyon, the temperature gauge in the car said 35 F. So I guess it was pretty cold. We warmed up on our hike though. We did a 6 mile round trip hike that went a little over 2000 feet into the canyon. It takes quite a bit more than that to get all the way down though—we weren’t even half way. I got my hopes up that we might be able to hike all the way to the river because our Belgian neighbor at our campsite in Big Bend said he’s hiked it in one day before. He said it took him 11 hours, but only because his wife is slow. Haha. There seemed to be warnings everything that said you shouldn’t attempt to hike to the river in one day though. So we decided 6 miles would be good enough. And, although I still want to hike all the way in, it was a good hike. We definitely experienced the temperature rising as we descended, and basically 3 miles of climbing stairs it a pretty good workout.
Then we drove to Zion National Park in Utah! Whenever I told someone I was going on this trip, if they’d been to Zion before, they would spend at least a few minutes convincing me that I need to go to Zion. It definitely lived up to the hype. It was incredible—unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I can’t really even explain… so hopefully the pictures will help. If you have to choose just one national park to visit in your lifetime and you asked me for a suggestion, I would say almost certainly say Zion. I’ll let you know at the end of this trip after a see a few more parks if that changes, but I don’t think it will :).
The only issue with the park is that so many people like it, so it’s hard to get a place to stay. When we got there all the campgrounds were full, so the attendant at the entrance to the park said to just keep going on the road we were on and that we’ll see some people camping. I didn’t really know what that meant… but it sounded like it might be free so we looked for it and found a sort of squatter village on the site of the highway probably 10 miles outside the park. Haha. There were a few people there who looked like they’d been there a while. You could probably live there if you wanted to… no bathrooms or anything… but it could work.
The next day I decided it was about time I try to run again. My ankle still feels a little weird, but it no longer looks like a softball, and it usually doesn’t hurt. And, really, what better place to run than in the most beautiful canyon I’ve ever seen. We ran about 3.5 miles on a bike path that followed the Virgin river into Zion Canyon. It was beautiful, and running felt pretty good too! Yay. We spent the rest of the day riding the free park shuttle around and seeing the sights. Since the park is so popular they no longer allow cars on most of the roads—you have to take the shuttles. It sounded initially like it could be inconvenient, but it was actually really nice. The shuttles arrived every 5-10 minutes and they took us to see everything we wanted to see. We didn’t hike anything big, but we did all the little trails at each stop, which took us to some pretty sweet places. My favorite was this sort of hidden waterfall. Overall, we calculated that we ran/walked/hiked about 8.7 miles. Pretty good day.
Now we’re on our way to Las Vegas, for some civilization, and our first shower in 6 days (washing off the dirt of 4 states… 5 if you count Nevada, but I’m not because we’ve only been driving here… haha).