Going into Zion I had a lot of anxieties and fear about how the trip would go due to my own lack of faith in myself. Although we’ve spent the year preparing and I felt trained and prepared, another side of me felt completely out of my comfort zone and anxious for what was to come. Thankfully, backpacking in Zion was probably the most beautiful and eye-opening experience I’ve ever had, and maybe ever will have.
This trip being at such a pivotal point in all of our high school careers added to its effectiveness and beauty. Having worked so hard throughout school and being gifted such important time in nature was therapeutic and much needed.
I had a lot of time alone on the tail surrounded by stunning views of all side and had one specific spiritual experience I will never forget. Towards the end of our long day, my physical energy was almost all depleted, and mentally I was struggling as well. Somehow, my legs kept moving, but I wasn’t sure how long that would last. I realized I hadn’t been looking up for a while and that I was solely focusing on looking at the ground and breathing with the rhythm of my footsteps in order to pass the time. I was wasting my time in nature! I looked up and was overwhelmed with the beauty I saw. Plateaus in the distance with greenery all on top, and steep mountain cliffs with spectacular red coloring. So much beauty. Being that I was alone at this specific moment, I felt empowered and lifted my head to the sky and started sobbing.
I felt every piece of Zion in my soul. I smelled every smell, heard every noise, felt every gust of wind on my skin and felt more alive after the previous 14 miles than I have ever felt in my entire life. This experience along with the many others is what I am bringing back with me and trying to keep in the forefront of my mind.
Experiences like that one are very few and far between, and cannot be reached if one does not struggle. If I wouldn’t have had one of the hardest days of my life, I wouldn’t have experienced what I did. That right there is one of the main lessons I am taking with me from this trip. As in backpacking, sometimes you have to go down before you can go up. Instant gratification is not nearly as satisfying as waiting for the reward, and not just waiting, working for it. The journey is where the beauty lies. All of these pieces of advice and lessons I ran through my head throughout the trip, and were solidified by the experiences I had.
Going into Zion, I truly believed that I was going to slow down the group and not be able to complete any of the side hikes or any of the significantly difficult athletic challenges. Time and time again I proved myself wrong and gained more self-confidence. I realized i’m athletic, on a higher scale than i had previously believed.