When experience is intrinsically rewarding life is justified in the present, instead of being held hostage to a hypothetical future gain - Spring Road Trip Part 3

"When experience is intrinsically rewarding life is justified in the present, instead of being held hostage to a hypothetical future gain" ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

After the Paria River Canyon adventure and eating 2 dinners, first a steak at the local kitchen in Cliff Dwellers, then some Mexican food in Kanab after showering at a campground, we started our journey back north. Not having much time to find a campsite but pursuing a new route north, we wound around and through the hills before coming to rest up on a large peninsula overlooking a river bottom and endless hills on all sides of us. There was no fire ring yet, so I gathered rocks, dug a hole and built a ring, this is one of my favorite activities to spend creative energy on. A fire pit usually gets used numerous times and people sit around it to share their stories and culture while getting precious meditation time just staring at flames. So we started the first fire for this pit, and had a nice hot fire to relax and drink a few beers too. It was going to be a chilly night potentially dropping into the 30s. 

The next morning proved to be exactly that, cold and foggy, we were headed to Escalante either way for breakfast, coffee, and planning the rest of our trip together. My partner having limited days in the desert wanted to keep hiking. So after breakfast and waiting the rain out, we did a small hike together along the Escalante River, maybe 5 miles in all seeing a few big arches in the sandstone walls, but even those 5 miles were filled with excruciating pain for every step i made in the soft sand, my achilles tendon still screaming at me. After the hike we drove down Hole in the Rock road to find a campsite for the night, hiking coyote slot canyon was the plan for tomorrow. In reality, I needed a few days to relax and recover. My achilles tendon was sore and resting was the only thing that was going to heal it at this point. The following morning I dropped off my partner so he could do another 2 day solo adventure, while I rested in the desert. I went back to a campsite we had found just the previous day to rest and relax my feet and do some much needed writing and reading.

The following afternoon I left the campsite and drove back to Hurricane Wash to pick up my hiking partner. He had a great trip hiking the slot canyons and was ready for more so we headed back south into AZ to use our permits and hike the South Coyote Buttes area. That night we camped in AZ near the road to the Coyote Buttes. It was a nice campsite with red rocks to climb on and help break the wind. In the morning with the sun shining bright it was another beautiful spring day, however I skipped my yoga and reading session to rearrange my truck bed as the tailgate was malfunctioning and would not open anymore, wasn’t a big deal to me, just took some time to figure out how we could still use the truck bed to store food/gear and cook meals. After cooking a hearty breakfast with lots of veggies, eggs, and coffee, we went four-wheeling in the deep sand to find our way to South Coyote Buttes. Arriving we met a guide that had led a group of hikers out to the buttes and back already, he was nice and offered us lunch, but we had already ate and were giddy to get out into the field. There was loose sand right away on the trail and my achilles was still not feeling great, so I used my trekking poles to balance more weight on my shoulders, but to no avail it was going to be a slow day. My partner wanted to go see the whole area, so we split up and I found a nice spot to relax, reflect and daydream. 

My first impression of this sandstone wonderland was very visually pleasing. If I were dropped off on another plant, say Malacandra (from C.S. Lewis book “Out of the silent planet”) and it looked like South Coyote Buttes, I’d be super happy! The sandstone beds range in thickness and group together in various colors, iron oxidized: red, orange, yellows.. iron unoxidized for: blue and green.. Manganese for lavender. Follow any line and it will keep you reeling with a big smile, up, down, right, left, in circles then hitting a structural joint only to take off in a different color. If a sandstone plane erodes then a sheet like appearance is created in between there are bowls, seats and couches, like I’m sitting on now!! The sage and junipers dotting the landscape add a nice touch, some greens with your sandwich sir? The random clouds overhead provide some shade on this sunny warm day, perfect for the desert, 70 degrees in the sun and cooler in the shade with a nice breeze. The sandstone nearby is covered in red dots, most likely iron or manganese concretions. Sometimes you must sit down, stop doing what you’ve always done and look at life, nature and your surroundings in a different way. Change your perspective, open you mind, look for groups and sequences, analyze patterns..it sounds hard but hose are just big words for being PRESENT in your current environment.

The following day we came back to the same area to visit White pocket, we did not need a permit for this area even though it was just as spectacular as South Coyote Buttes. I found myself sitting in an incised cut of the Navajo sandstone topped with a bioturbated tidal flat sandstone that is cracked into polyhedrons and some perfect hexagons. It’s mesmerizing with all the fractal patterns that can be imagined as my range of view increases or decreases. Tourists were all over the area today, so I fled from my first resting spot and climbed a steep section of tidal flat covered sandstone, I had to route find before climbing as the sandstone was in towers but they were not all connected. The wind was also blowing quite hard and I was looking for a place to read, write, and relax for the day. I climbed up and back down several times until I found that perfect isolated spot where no one could really see me nor could I hear anyone else speaking. The view west into the Navajo sandstone was impressive, South Coyote (where we were yesterday) to the south and some grand arches surrounded by colorful sand, also known as the Wave to the north-west, I could make out this fascinating place in my binoculars but we weren’t fortunate enough to get a permit for the area. Further to the east into the distance, Mount Henry was protruding into the scene and got me dreaming about mountains once again.

White pocket was the last adventure my partner and I had in the desert, we stayed at a little motel in Kanab that night to shower, eat some sub-par food (only because the mexican restaurant was closed), and packing or planning in my case for the next set of adventures. We drove towards Las Vegas the following morning  driving through Zion National Park and then taking the scenic highway route past the lake mead recreation area. We stopped at a rest area in the red rocks portion of the mountains and I did some bouldering while my partner packed his bags one last time. After stopping at the airport and saying goodbye, all I wanted to do was get back into nature and as far away from the city as possible! Making a quick stop for food and another journal, within an hour I was back on the interstate heading north. Thanks to several friends mentioning Valley of Fire State Park, I drove in and found a decent campsite for the night nestled among the red sandstone rocks that looked like a climbers paradise. It was finally a real desert day, 90 degrees, hot and sunny but felt good to write this in short and no t-shirt, soaking up some UV rays, hopefully getting a bit of tan back before going back to Maui for round 2.

Waking up in Valley of Fire State Park, I was off for a hike to check out the area. There was a neat backpacking trail that traversed the whole park but it was already hot and I was in search of a smaller hike. My first stop was the rainbow vista, which seemed to be a much smaller “Wave” like formation consisting of several colorful bands of sandstone from old eolian sand dunes. This hike was an easy out and back with lots of scenery to take in and a beautiful panoramic of the colorful sandstone at the end. I continued on up the road after getting back to my truck, wanting to check out the White Dome area, where several movies had been filmed in the past, thus drawing many tourists to see the rock formations. There was a one mile loop trail around the area, but I was easily drawn off course to boulder up a tidal flat area before entering the small slot canyon, and then getting lost down another slot canyon. I eventually found a spot above the trail that was leveled off nicely, so I decided to get in some yoga before moving on. 

Leaving Valley of Fire State Park, I drove north and then east on various highways eventually making my way back into Utah and landing in Bryce Canyon National Park for the next 2 nights with my family. I arrived at the campground just outside the park by early evening, enough time to read a bit, plan some hikes for tomorrow and enjoy good food for dinner with conversation all night. The next day we drove into the park all the way to the roads end to hike a scenic loop that was dotted with bristlecone pines, the oldest pine trees still in existence, some of them were easily 1000+ years old! This small hike also provided some beautiful views of the Great Basin surrounding the park. Backtracking in the vehicle we stopped at several overlooks to see the amazing erosional piping of sandstones found in the park and the vast array of beauty that was all around us. We eventually made it back to a trailhead to hike the Navajo and Queens trails. Overall the hike was good but way too many tourists for me! It was hard to get into flow mode until we reached the 300 foot climb up switchbacks. These definitely weren’t the worse switchbacks i’ve climbed in my life and the scenery was still beautiful. I reached the top way before my family and decided to go check out inspiration point which was another half mile away according to the nearby sign, however it was all up-hill on the way there.

Off I went, sprinting up the first hill covering maybe 100 feet in vertical distance and 300 feet horizontal, stopping suddenly on flatter ground, I almost passed out on the spot! My heart was pumping and lungs trying to get enough oxygen out of the air as I was near 9000 feet elevation. It took 60 seconds to recover enough to suffer some more, so I sprinted up the next hill, repeating this 8 times until I was at the top, floating by tourists, some commented other just stared, I was in flow and hardly noticed them, instead staring into the deep canyon below and trying to stay focused on a fun but safe route up to the top. Once reaching the top and overlook platform it took me 3-5 minutes to calm down, catch my breath and focus before snapping a few photos and then running back down to the lodge where my family was waiting. After descending the first hill, I was already in flow again and found an amusing course back down the hill zig-zagging between tourists, juniper trees and some small mud mounds. I was cruising, as gravity was on my side now, until I reached some young international ladies, I slowed way down and thought of the Raramuri style of floating while running, slowing down perception and tiptoeing through nature, it is pure bliss! I side stepped off the trail around one of the ladies, startling her a bit, but I didn’t look back, instead i sprinted cut them off 20 feet ahead then took a small hill up a side trail and really close to the cliff edge, suddenly I tripped on a root and took at least 5 small steps to make up for one or two regular steps, almost doing a superman into the ground and possibly sliding off the cliff edge!! I glanced at the cliff while falling in control, still completely in flow, it felt like slow motion, I was smiling the entire time and chuckled a bit after recovering while sprinting up the next hill. The ladies just got an amazing show of extreme flow in Bryce Canyon!


  1. Bryce Canyon is my favorite. Thanks for the memories!


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