A precious road lay ahead, brushing left and right as it ascends the side of a mountain. The car was rocking back and forth on this excuse for a road, with hundreds of feet, perhaps thousands, a mere few feet away from the edge. Every twist and turn was met with sweaty palms, as I navigated the car up this ziggurat of nature. Zion had greeted us truly with a challenge with this road. The road seemed to lead on and on, and it was hard not to peek looks at the sun setting behind us, draping the valley in an assortment of colors. The red rocks quickly were vanishing into swathes and pigments of black and orange, and the valley seemed to come alive with the setting of the sun. The drive was not easy, but we made it. We had just hiked a quick trail as we prepped ourselves for the big hike tomorrow at Angel’s Landing.
We drove that night to a campsite we had found down the road. For a homely few dollars, we found a campsite with all kinds of bells and whistles; laundromats, swimming pools, and most importantly, showers. The quiet sun was still singing its song across the lands, producing a cacophony of music from the birds parting ways, and the whistle of its music with the wind shaking the tree’s ever so slightly. Home tonight was a simple hammock, strung between two spiny trees. The crackling of the fire provided a strangely primal soothing effect on me, as I came to meet the Sandman earlier than I thought that warm night.
Rising with the morning sun, we produced a breakfast rather quickly, wishing to be out as soon as we could. A warm shower that morning was also produced. The funk of dust, bacon grease, and cigarettes filled quickly my nostrils as I purged all the smells I had accumulated over the past few days. A wonderful feeling truly, to feel clean and part of civilization once more as I dried my long hair and put my clothes slowly back on. Bags packed, a Grateful Dead show lined up, and bowl packed once more, we were on our way back to Zion.
Once more, we had to navigate down the overlook canyon.The same twists and turns met us once again, but they were easier on the palms, as I turned left and right and made my way down towards the canyon floor. We parked down the road before taking a shuttle to the hike. Upon meeting the trailhead, we were greeted by several wild turkeys, that looked at us with curiosity as we continued our walk towards Angel’s Landing.
The sun was beating down on us heavy that day, having me wipe sweat every few minutes off my brow. We were not even halfway up, deciding to take a small break on the trail. Where we were, the trail was cut right into the rock; only a few feet and a cliff face met you. A wonderful stranger talked to us and gave us some snacks and granola bars, far more filling than the bottles of water we had grabbed. We continued to persist and hike forward, stopping every few minutes for a break as the elevation gain was torturous.
Eventually, we met the top of the summit. Ahead of us lay the last section of the hike to Angel’s Landing. It consisted of thousand foot drops on either side, with chains staked into the Earth to prevent the less agile from slipping and falling. Though it was not as horrendous and anxiety building as I expected, regardless, it still gave one an uneasy sense in their stomach. We slowly made our way, stopping occasionally at some points as the trail was so thin that only a single person could pass through safely at times. After nearly an hour of chain gripping and firm foot placement, we finally greeted the end of the trail. Below us, a valley, awash in the greens and browns of the Earth laid flat, as momentous towers of stone embraced both sides. A river cut through the middle, splitting the canyon further, with the only trace of humanity being the sliver of a road that even the canopy hid from view. It posed no question why this place had become named Zion; it truly almost seemed like heaven on Earth.
We sat for a while and observed the valley below us, drifting away from the other hikers and clambering down the trail a little bit to enjoy a little herb. We sat and puffed, relaxing in the sun and enjoying the views that nature had provided to us by the stories of erosion and wind. Every few seconds, the rodents that had gotten too friendly with the hikers, would try and weasel their ways into the bags. Constant attention was kept to our belongings, and even when we stood up, they would slink their ways out of the cuts and corners of the ground and run around our legs. Careful attention was heeded with every step so as not to step on one, as there were so many.
We sat and enjoyed the view for a little longer, truly absorbing the rare view that many do not often get the pleasure of enjoying. We were about to head down when we suddenly spotted two tye-dye’s, and better yet, Grateful Dead tye-dye’s! Of course, we got to talking. It turned out that these two heads, Matt and Yim, were also headed out west to catch the Dead & Company shows as well. We exchanged numbers, and of course, delved into some Dead history with our favorite shows and whatnot. We asked if they wanted to hit our vape pen, with some powerful sativa still lining the cavities of the pen. They, in turn, accepted, and then asked if we wanted to hit their dab pen. Of course, we accepted. Hugs were given before we departed, with us meeting at a future date in some hotel room after a show. On our way down, a much more challenging one now that we were flying high, we contemplated how odd it was that we met two deadhead’s in literally the middle of nowhere; high on a mountain peak, above a valley floor, in the middle of Utah. Truly odd!
On our way down, Matt and Yim caught up with us, as they happened to run down the entirety of the trail while we walked. Off the beaten path a little bit, we dipped in the cold river, washing off some of the dust and dirt that had been caked on us. It was so serene, to wash one’s self in the waters of the Earth, underneath its cathedrals of stone and sky. There is something primal and embracing about it that I cannot explain until one takes a long hike and then relaxes in the rivers of Zion. We later parted ways once more, agreeing to catch each other at the first show in Vegas in a few days.
The ride home was met by the quiet darkness. The drive was precarious once more, as I had to navigate the overlook road once more in the dark, with everything being painted black save for what was illuminated by the headlights. Twist and turn, zig and zag, hairpin’s and curves later, we made it. A small drive took us back to our campsite, where we made ourselves a little dinner and played some music on our guitars before tucking in. The tour was nearly abreast now, with only a few days before the Vegas show. We had one more stop to make, in the desert’s of Death Valley, before we would enter the tour circuit. Night came quickly, as we waited in the sandman’s hourglass in anticipation of the next day.