This article on I09 reminded me of one of my favorite memories of exploring the National Parks (scroll down to the bottom to see Angel's Landing). In 2010 I did that breathtaking, heart stopping, pants-pissing hike for the first time and was crazy enough to do it again last year.
Now that the National Parks are apparently going to be shut down for a bit, as a hiker and lover of these amazing spaces I thought I would reflect here about what a true national treasure they are, even on a small scale- the impact they can have on one person.
I have been vacationing in the National Parks since I was a wee child. My parents would bundle us into the hot shell of our Volvo Station wagon and we would head to the southwest. We'd do a big loop, hitting the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon and other stops along the way (Monument Valley, Meteor Crater etc). I grew up in those wide expanses, driving a car for the first time down a deserted dusty road with my grandma freaking out in the backseat, watching Old Faithful erupt over frosty ground and walking in Bryce Canyon with my whole family under the biggest moon I've ever seen.
As an adult, I have skinned my knees bouldering in Joshua Tree, hiked through pristine snow in Yosemite, watched an eclipse from the rim of Bryce Canyon and have survived one panic attack 2000 feet above the valley floor on Angels Landing. Also, Death Valley is the darkest, hottest bleakest place on the planet but it is surprisingly full of life.
The National Parks have been the picturesque setting for some of the greatest memories of my life as well as some of the most intense. When I was ten I flipped a canoe in the middle of the Everglades and when I was 23 Man of Soup told me he loved me on Angels Landing after I faced my fear and made it to the top.
I imagine echoes of myself remaining in these places as I get older. Sometimes when I am in a particular place I have stood several times before I feel like if I turned around I could see myself at eight years old in my straw hat and Bugs Bunny denim jacket. They feel so intimate and so vast at the same time, as you have an incredibly personal experience in a place that thousands of people stand in a year.
I know some of you are hikers and I would love to hear about your experiences! Share with me!