You only really appreciate the beauty of the world once you’ve experienced it firsthand. Over the course of the year in GEO my idea of the world and (almost) everything in it, but it wasn’t until the Joshua Tree Field Studies trip that I felt connected to it in a new way. For me, Zion was so much more than another wilderness adventure. In the weeks leading up to the trip I struggled with basically everything– I felt do disconnected from the world around me that even planning our trip seemed surreal to me. In Zion I found myself again. I figured it would take a few days, maybe the typical three or four, but the mental struggle of the fifteen mile first day brought me to that place so much sooner. I have a horrible fear of heights, and the beginning of the trail up to Angel’s Landing was extremely hard for me both mentally and physically.
There were so many moments in those first few miles where I wanted nothing more than to turn back and stand on solid ground, but I persevered. I experienced the same thing up at West Rim Trail, and even though the view was spectacular I wasn’t sure it would be worth it for me to continue. But it was. By the time we got to the top of the West Rim I was exhausted and hungry and tired and still had so many miles to go, but it didn’t matter anymore.
I spent most of the rest of the day hiking by myself, and found the magic of the back country through the views, colors, sounds, and wildlife surrounding me. I don’t think I’ve ever been as physically exhausted as I was at the end of day 1, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so accomplished either. After the first day Zion dragged on for what seemed like months at a time, but now only feels like hours. Climbing our little mountain to watch the sunset was so unexpected and fantastic and I felt like I’d found myself a new home.
When we came out to overlook Hop Valley my breath was taken away; I’d never seen anything so pure and spectacularly huge. Beartrap Canyon took my breath away, and I cried as I walked from the waterfall with Chelsea, Emma, and Nicole singing Hallelujah. There was magic in that canyon; time stood still and everything was beautifully perfect.
I had the same feeling at the end of Echo Canyon, where we all sang the same Hallelujah into the cavern. Getting into Echo Canyon was one of the hardest things I have ever done, both mentally and physically. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help and compassion of D, Grant, and Sam. When I heard who was in Group E initially I was most excited but I was skeptical of whether or not I’d be able to tolerate Sam for an entire eight days. But I did. And now I understand him and I love him so much for it. The most memorable moment for me came as we were walking back to camp from the swimming hole in La Verkin. My shoes had given me awful blisters and I’d decided to just walk barefoot in an attempt to keep my feet alive a while longer. d was walking a ways in front of me, and I was struggling to keep up. You learn pretty quickly that the fastest way to walk in the deep sand on the trails is to walk in the footsteps of the person in front of you. So I did. And by doing so as able to move a little bit faster and keep a steady pace. In that moment I realized how truly appreciative I am of DiMaggio and everything he does to inspire us to love. All year our class has done its best to learn how to care for our world, and I have been beyond inspired to do my part. I hope that I can continue in DiMaggio’s footsteps (both literally and figuratively, please take me back to Zion), and change the world.