The many things I learned in Zion

Some people might cringe when they hear the word “backpacking.” Most shy away from the thought of about 30 lbs. on your back, no showers, a diet mostly consisting of dried fruit and granola, and hiking roughly 50 miles in a week. Most shy away, but not us. Not the GEO class. Backpacking brings a new definition to the phrase “carrying the world on your shoulders.” To us, that means having the ability to downsize your life in a way that is equal parts rewarding and comfortable.

Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of the annual Zion trip isn’t to make you become a hippie. It isn’t to start hating the society we live in to become an unbathed, anarchist nomad.  The purpose of Zion is to simply appreciate the natural world we live in and hopefully discover something about ourselves.

There’s something about backpacking, maybe it’s learning what “necessity” truly means, maybe it’s not seeing any other people besides your group for large bouts of time, or maybe it’s just being so close to nature. It could be any of those things, but whatever it is, there’s just something about backpacking that strips you down to your purest form. It removes all outside influences, and makes you realize what you are truly capable of.

Zion is an unforgettable experience. I’ll miss sitting around the “kitchen” at night, laughing ‘til I cried, having real talk in the tents, bagging a huge mountain, bushwhacking ‘til I bled, marvelling at the intensity of nature, and feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt. That’s my Zion. 

There were so many moments where I would worry, “Do I have enough of this?” Or“What am I going to do about this?”, “What if I smell?” and after a second of fretting I would realize they were such petty problems. I was faced with more more substantial problems such as snake bites, rock slides, and flash floods. This realization made me question other “problems” in my life. It made me realize what should actually be taking priority in my life and to not sweat the small stuff.
I remember sitting in the long car ride there, listening to Bredensteiner tell me, “You’re going to be pushed, and you’ll think you won’t be able to do it, but you’ll be so glad you did.” At the time I shrugged it off and laughed at the thought of being happy about struggling. But now her words ring as truth in my ears.

The most important thing I learned in Zion is that what I thought were my limits was actually just my comfort zone. If you felt like you couldn’t do something, then too bad, you had to find a way to do it because when you’re straddling a cliff at 700 ft. off the ground there’s only up or down. And once you get up you realize that you could do it, and you did do it, and now you’re at the top of a giant mountain with beautiful farm land and mesas as far as the eye can see, or an emerald pool waiting to be jumped in. And you got there with the help of amazing people who are just as passionate about the beautiful world we live in. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than that.

Day three, teacher Geof Land suggested we climb a mountain called Red Butte. It had no trail and no easy way up. It was miles of thrashing through sharp brush, and scrambling up loose rock. There were times when I would say, “You go ahead I’m good with right here,” and Land would encourage me to go just a little further. Next thing I know I’m standing at the top, wiping sweat from my brow with shaky hands, looking down at fellow classmates who stayed behind, they looked like ants now. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever done and I will never forget the feeling of power and confidence and peace.

Zion is an unforgettable experience. I’ll miss sitting around the “kitchen” at night, laughing ‘til I cried, having real talk in the tents, bagging a huge mountain, bushwhacking ‘til I bled, marvelling at the intensity of nature, and feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt. That’s my Zion.

 

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