Portia and Erik's adventure in Zion

So Erik… what’s with all the ropes and stuff?

Log in the Subway, Zion National Park

Just a little preview really quick–Portia went rappelling the other day!  And we’re going to go do a canyon together this weekend.  I am very excited, and it got me thinking about why I enjoy canyoneering so much… so I wrote a little bit about it.

Many people think canyoneering is just one of those things people do to feel hard-core.  Although that may be true in a few cases, it is not often true for me.

I remember one of the first slot canyons I ever hiked through.  I don’t remember its name, but I remember my mom and dad took my sister and I camping, and we spent a day exploring a deep, narrow slot canyon.  The slot was full of winding paths, and rock walls that went up so high they made me feel much less significant than I had previously felt.

My parents and sister were taking their time, and I was so excited to see what was ahead, I started running.  I zig-zagged as fast as I could.  I hopped over small boulders.  I scrambled across logs.  My hands slid along the rough stone walls as I tried to keep myself from tipping side-to-side.

At every bend I was thrilled to find a completely unique swirl in the sandstone formation ahead.  Every step carried me deeper into the slot, making me more courageous and tough…

And then I remember that I was only about 8 years old.  Suddenly I was lonely. Every step ahead had taken me farther from people I loved.  Every step away from them made me feel more lonely.  I stopped.  The canyon was perfectly still, no sounds ahead or behind me.

I waited.  Alone.  I loved the peace and quiet, but I was alone.  I began to walk back down canyon toward my family.  Nothing.

My pace increased to a quick walk, then to a jog, and soon to a frantic run.  The peace and serenity I found in the canyon by myself was not as fulfilling for me as when I had someone to share it with.

Finally around the bend I skidded to a stop in front of my family.  I’m sure my mom and dad had to work hard not to laugh at me.  I was bruised, scraped, and out of breath.  As soon as I realized I wasn’t lost, and they weren’t lost, everything was great.  I don’t remember, but I probably covered up by smiling and asking them what had taken them so long.

As I have changed and grown up (not very quickly, I’ve definitely fought against growing-up) canyons have stayed the same.  In slot canyons, and on mountain tops, I find peace and quiet, and I often find my closest friends and family there with me.

Yes, I do feel hard-core when I’m rappelling through a 100 foot waterfall.  But the ropes, harnesses, carabiners, and rap rings are all a means to an end.  The ropes take me to places that help me recharge and heal.  They bring me closer to my true self, and closer to the people I love most.

When I find a secluded and peaceful place, the distractions and problems in the world fall away and I remember who I am.  I remember who other people are.  I can let the world be for just a little bit.


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