Iron, like a lion in Zion.
Those lyrics from the wonderful Bob Marley song instantly bring back memories of my drive through these canyons a few months ago. I am standing again at a pull off on the side of the road, clouds hanging heavy above me, hugging the tops of the rust colored rocks. A flash waterfall is beating down the side of the cliff face, formed by the rains from the previous night. I turn on that song and dance next to my car to my hearts content. I know I look foolish, but joy like this can’t possibly be contained.
It’s quite surreal looking back at this part of my voyage. It was the beginning of March and Coronavirus had just started shutting down the country. I was slowly on my way to Minnesota to lockdown for a couple month, yet National Parks were still open so I took the opportunity to drive through. Most of the popular hikes were off limits as they required using chains to guide you through the canyons and touching things other people had touched was starting to become off limits. I was ok with that though, content to take in as much as I could while I was there.
As I drove up the 9 into Springdale, I couldn’t believe the atmosphere the recent rain had created. Spring grasses sprung up from whatever crevice they could find to take a hold of. At the same time, snow capped off the higher peaks. It was an astounding sandwich of grey clouds, white cliffs, rusty rocks and green grass. Every once in a while the clouds would part to reveal a beautiful blue sky. At the same time, the world seemed so quiet, everyone getting ready for their lockdown period, not knowing what the future would bring. The closer I got the the park, the more alone I became. That was ok. I like it that way.
Pulling up to the gate, everything seemed to be shutdown with a sign informing visitors that entrance was currently free due to the virus. As I pulled into the visitor parking lot to asses the situation, a feeling of eeriness overtook me. It was as if I was in the beginning of a horror movie, entering an abandoned area where a killer was waiting. I pushed on and turned down the road headed to Angels Landing. A soft mist started to fill the air and a flock of turkeys appeared in the middle of the road . Unconcerned with blocking traffic, I stopped the car in the middle of the road, throwing my hazards on just in case another human came out of the fog. I followed the flock clicking away to my hearts content. The male seemed as if he was posing for me, stopping and standing perfectly in front of the cliffs. More likely, he was enjoying thee view just as much as I.
After a while, I returned to my car to head further up the canyon. I couldn’t begin to contain my glee as I tore around each curve. The fog had only gotten more dense and rains started and stopped as the pleased, lending to the horror like vibe. The road consistently twisted higher and higher, each curve bringing another amazing view. I felt like I had stopped so many times that my pictures might seems redundant. I couldn’t care less though. I was at peace and felt one with the park. I’d get out, stare off into the distance for a while, smile to myself, and then head to the next curve to do it all over again.
Eventually, I came out on the other side of the park, read to continue my journey north. A feeling of sadness came over me as I drove towards Salt Lake City. I immediately longed to return to these rocks, ready to go as deep as I could. A backpacking trip was definitely in the cards for the future, just not today. Little did I know, Covid would take hold of the country for months after this, completely changing the landscape of travel, at the time though, I drove away dreaming of returning.
Closest Supercharger St George Utah 43 mi
1091 Bluff St, St. George, UT 84770
Zion National Park
1101 Zion – Mount Carmel Hwy, Hurricane, UT 84737