A Stranger in Zion…

The late afternoon light was stretched low over the horizon casting long shadows in Zion National Park.  I had unpacked my gear from the dusty truck in Watchman Campground and quickly set up my home for the weekend next to another small tent quietly occupying the same campsite under a large cottonwood.  I didn’t know much about my mysterious campmate yet.  Less than an hour earlier, I had received a single text message – all set in F4.  They have a parking permit for you as you enter watchman campground.  If I’m not in camp, I’m off exploring.  Sounds like we’d get along just fine.

View of Watchman from the Campground in Zion National Park

The National Parks and Monuments of Utah have always called to me, especially Zion National Park.  I don’t normally make a huge effort to visit the National Parks, preferring instead to explore Wilderness Areas where I can find quiet and solitude.  There are exceptions.  When my dad passed away in 2005 we were in the planning stages of several trips together.  We were on the wait-list for a private trip down the Colorado River, we were just starting to plan a trip through Yosemite along portions of the John Muir Trail and we were talking about touring the Utah Parks of Zion, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands.

In Fall of 2007 I was able to raft the Colorado through Grand Canyon on a private boat trip with several of my dad’s closest river friends.  This Summer I’ll finally be hiking most of the John Muir Trail through Yosemite with a small group of backpackers.  And for years I had been patiently looking for opportunities to visit Arches or Zion…when I received this message on twitter:

The timing seemed to fit perfectly into my jigsaw puzzle of a travel calendar.  I managed to scrounge up some petty cash for fuel, take the weekend off and drive 7 hours across Arizona and Utah to meet up with a fellow adventure seeker after nothing more than a handful of Twitter messages.  Twitter has been funny that way, especially when it comes to the outdoor community.  I see it happen all the time with messages like, “Anyone up for climbing near SLC this weekend?” or “I want to do Humphrey’s next time in Flag.  Who’s in?”  Social Media allows us to connect with like-minded people for outdoor adventures that just wouldn’t be as fun (or safe) alone.

This time it was Minnesota native David Wherry, hell bent on making the most out of his first whirlwind trip to Zion National Park in the shortest time possible.  David would have one day, sun-up to sun-down, to doggedly chase down as much adventure and general badassery (yes, it’s a word) as law would allow…and he was looking for a partner to help him run it down.

As I organized my gear at Workman Campground I knew we were staring down the barrel of a long sunrise-to-sunset day of steep, sweat-stained canyon hiking.  So when Dave came strolling into camp after a casual 7 mile trail run, I knew he’d be the guy pushing the pace the next day.

That night we sat around the campfire and discussed our strategy for the next day.  We didn’t know each other before that night but we both seemed very much on the same page about our agenda.  We listed out our priorities starting with Angel’s Landing at sunrise and worked our way from there with every intention of hungrily devouring as much of this amazing park as we could stomach before sunset.  We would not be content to shuffle along with cattle-like tourists.  We would push hard, move fast and end every trail with an eager and emphatic “What’s next!?”

David turned out to be a great trail companion and bad-ass adventure partner.  Hopefully his work continues to land him in parts out west so we can pull off another epic slam-dunk in another amazing location.  The sooner the better…

The Epic Day in Zion National Park…

Angel's Landing at Zion National Park

Echo Canyon at Zion National Park

Observation Point at Zion National Park

The Narrows at Zion National Park

 

To see more of my images from Zion National Park visit my gallery.

Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at WildernessDave.com. David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.

Comments

  1. Barefoot Jake (@BarefootJake) says:

    Think I can see a ghost in one of your pictures ;-)

  2. Looks like that was quite a trip!

  3. Great story Dave. Adventure is a common language in our circles. Makes it easy to meet new friends that you can fully expect to mirror your same level of appreciation for the trail and where it takes you.

  4. Great post! I love social media and the great interactions and meet ups created by it. Now you need to make it to Arches. :)

    • Yup, met lots of awesome folks. Online acquaintances turning into real life friends… :)

      And YES! Now I need to get to Arches.

      • Candace Agnew says:

        Went to Moab, Utah last year and feel in major love with Arches and all the other places. Can’t wait to go back!

      • Candace Agnew says:

        Absolutely loved Arches and Moab, Utah. Will be going back there again and again! Experience Rappeling for the first time too and am amped to do it again!

  5. So, what did you think of Angel’s Landing? I lived in Utah for years and that was one of my favs. Another one is in the Utah National Park you didn’t mention… Upper Muley Twist at Capitol Reef NP.

    • First off, Angel’s Landing was absolutely amazing. For such a short hike, it was probably the most fun and rewarding hike I’ve done in a long time. I could have stayed up there all day.

      I had to look up Upper Muley because I’d never heard of it. It’s now on my list of “must see” hikes so, thanks for that! I will be making a more concerted effort to get out to these Utah parks…they all seem amazing and exactly the kind of stuff I love hiking in.

  6. Yeah, AL is tough to beat! You will love doing the mule. I did a fair amount of wandering around when I lived out there so let me know anytime you want suggestions. One of these days I will get around to writing about some of those old trips on my own site…

    Happy Trails!

Trackbacks

  1. […] got into shape. I became a vegetarian. I ran marathons. I met new people. I went hiking in 55 different places all of the country in one year. I did all of that and more, […]

  2. […] got into shape. I became a vegetarian. I ran marathons. I met new people. I went hiking in 55 different places all of the country in one year. I did all of that and more, […]

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