Oh October!!!!!! I am so sad to see the season change this month because it has been such a special month…perhaps even my favorite of 2022.
First of all, it’s Fall. My absolute favorite time of year. Fall is magical in North Carolina. The light changes and turns soft and warm and Mother Nature gets out her paintbrush and turns the leaves the most beautiful shades of red, orange, yellow and even sometimes purple. The air cools down and the humidity dries up. I feel happy all the time. When you are immersed in that type of beauty it is hard to feel any other way.
October also brought THE BEST race we’ve done all year. The local quarry opened its normally tightly sealed gates and let the runners in. I had no idea a quarry could be so pretty. As the sun came up and hit the exposed rock just right, the visual display was stunning. Thankfully it was a cool morning because it was a challenging course over loose gravel and elevation changes. AND as if the race wasn’t special enough I came in second in my age group. I don’t usually see the leaders of a race and certainly don’t place with them, but this course gave me some advantage. I love running on the trails and I suspect I was grouped up with mostly road runners, used to pavement which doesn’t offer the unstable footing or grades that trails do. They did a great job with the awards by posting the little plaques on actual rocks from the quarry.
And then I got on a plane. I flew out West and landed in Las Vegas, Nevada where I found my cousin in baggage claim waiting to pick me up for a grand adventure.
Sunrise Over The Vegas Strip
Now you all should know me well enough by now to realize it wasn’t THAT kind of Vegas trip. No gambling, shows or flashing lights on this trip. Instead we spent our first couple of days hiking Red Rock Canyon where I got to experience an entirely different type of landscape than what I am used to.
Then off to Utah we went!!!! I had been in Utah before, but never like this and this state is breathtaking at every turn and in every corner.
Our first few days in Utah were spent in Zion National Park. OMG! Zion was next level gorgeous and I think everyone should visit this park at least once in their lifetime.
Our first hike in the park was “The Narrows”. Described by the park website as: the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This gorge, with walls a thousand feet tall and the river sometimes just twenty to thirty feet wide, is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park. You can see The Narrows by hiking along the paved, wheelchair accessible Riverside Walk for one mile from the Temple of Sinawava. If you wish to see more, you will be walking in the Virgin River. This can involve wading upstream for just a few minutes or it can be an all day hike.
We made it an all day hike. We rented canyoneering shoes, a big wooden walking stick and waterproof pants to make the trek up river and fully immerse ourselves in the beauty of this slot canyon. It was such a unique experience! They were slow miles as we navigated the rocky river bed and pushed against the current, always working to maintain balance. And they were beautiful miles giving me a once in a lifetime adventure that I will never forgot.
That evening after our day in the river, back at the hotel, my sisters joined us. I had not seen either of my sisters since before the pandemic and it was so special to be together in such a beautiful place.
Our second day in Zion the four of us spent the morning together. Riding the shuttle through the park and getting off at various stops for photo ops. That afternoon our group of four split into twos. My cousin and I headed out for some more strenuous/moderately rated hikes while my sisters opted for some easier paced sightseeing. Our hiking views remained just as stunning as the first day and our feet were much drier.
While in Utah we also hiked through a few slot canyons. I LOVED the slot canyons. They are geographical works of art and being in them feels like the embodiment of peace and solitude. Not to mention the amazing way the light plays through the twisty curvy tops of the canyons onto the walls and floors.
Our final destination on this magical tour was a visit to Bryce National Park. Full of hoodoo oddities the views in Bryce are almost other worldly. I spent 10 amazing miles hiking the Fairyland Loop trail getting an up close and personal acquaintance with this interesting landscape.
If you are still here, thanks for following along on my recap of my amazing trip. I’m so grateful to have been able to go, grateful to have had that time with my family, grateful to be home and grateful to be able to share my images with you.
Thank you Ju-Lyn and Brian for this month’s Changing Seasons.