Months ago I got an email from my cousin Carson inviting me on "the trip of a lifetime". Three days backpacking in the "fairied motherland of Rae Jean Davis". As a child, my grandma Davis would spend summers at her grandparents in Escalante, Utah. I've heard lovely stories about summers spent horseback riding, visiting posey lake, and spending time with her grandparents (and the local boys her age...in case you wonder where I get it). Years ago my whole extended family went to Escalante and actually stayed in my great-great-grandparents house that we rented out for visit. Cool, right? So even though Escalante is in the middle of no where, it's a special place to me.
When Carson sent the email full of beautiful pictures of red rocks and arches and rivers and waterfalls, I committed to go. I got work off...all the while having no idea what I was getting myself into.
We left after work on Thursday and got into camp at about 2 am. It was freezing, and Carson and Olivia were nice enough to set up camp. We went straight to bed, and with it being pitch black outside, I had no idea where we were.
We woke the next morning in Devils Garden, and after breakfast hiked around a bit. We thought it was so cool. We thought we were so cool (or was that just me?)
From Devils Garden, we drove to the slot canyons. Again, I had no clue what I was getting into, but I thought that me and my chacos were ready. We hiked down into the canyon and this is what was waiting for us...
Carson had done these slot canyons before, and he also knows the size of my hips, so I trusted that I would survive.
It was tricky at times, and for sure challenging-- but soooo cool! I still giggle a little bit when I look at these pictures. I really did that! We climbed up peek-a-boo slot canyon-- this is us after we climbed our way out--
again, you may think that we are a little too proud of ourselves. if you're thinking that, you should be ashamed of yourself. just kidding. but still, we were really proud and thought we were beyond cool. from here we hiked over to climb down spooky canyon (do i call it spooky canyon? or spooky slot canyon? or just spooky? I'll never learn...) while we were walking linds and I talked about a slew of things, one of which was a book that she recently read called "The Awakening". I think it was about women's rights or something, but it was quickly made the tag line of our trip. THE AWAKENING. Beth's awakening. More on this later....
our fearless and sexy leaders
lest you think it was a easy trek down spooky, there were several times I'd come up to something like this, and was just supposed to climb down that? I feel like it required alot of thinking on my part, trying to figure our how my short legs and wide hips would make it down things like this and around corners.
dont worry, we also came upon this beauty-- we called it the birth canal (sorry if thats gross or offensive). at this point we had already coined "the awakening" so it was easy to jump right into rebirth. A new Beth. Luckily Carson was on the other side to help with the drop once I shimmied my bod through there. Seriously.
(my face in this picture is priceless. can you tell what i'm thinking? and no, i'm not crying...yet)
and then we hiked out....
...back to the car for lunch. I think this is by far the most delicious open face tuna sandwich I've ever tasted.
This is when we started packing our packs. Carsons advice was to pack alot, and then when we got there we could evaluate the weather and bring what we needed. Smart, right? We drove to our trailhead and off we went. This was the first time in my life hiking with a pack. I don't even think I was wearing it correctly at this point, but my chacos look cool, right?
and then we hiked....
.....across these rocks....for hours. This is when it gets sad. We had accidentally started at the wrong trailhead and ended up in the wrong spot (like couldn't get down into the canyon wrong spot).
So we turned around and hiked back to the car. That's when I started crying against my will. My feet hurt. It was hot. My back hurt. I was tired. And now we had to go hike to our real camping spot for the night on some cliff. It was getting dark. But guess what, we did it. I tied on my tennis shoes and we hiked until it got dark. We found the perfect little camping spot and I ate the most delicious ramen ever made. Seriously.
We packed up and headed to the cliff where we were going to hike down through a crack in the wall.
We lowered our packs down....
Do I look contemplative? Wonder what I'm looking at??
Again, I was a little overwhelmed.
can you spot an arch??
We finally got down to the river (I think it was called Calf Creek?). We called this the Garden of Eden because it was green and pretty!
And then we found the most stellar camping spot of all time:
Thank the dear heavens for this camp. It was soft cool sand, so we took our shoes off and walked around barefoot. We left our packs and headed out on our hike up to Jacob Hamblin Arch. The afternoon was spent in and out of river...
We finally made it!! It was as grand as Carson said it would be.
And just like that we headed back to camp. We got there before dark, giving us just enough time to filter some water and make some dinner. Our little campsite sat up on the bank of some petrified sand, and some smarty pants backpackers that came before us had carved chairs into the edge of it. This is me sitting in my magic chair. We called it "Jace" because thats who's name was carved into the chair. "Elle" wasn't nearly as comfortable. If i hadn't been concerned about being cold or wild animals, I would have slept right there.
Carson even made us popcorn for an evening treat-- fancy, right? I was a happy girl.
The next morning we woke up to hike out. Knowing we hiked alllll the way down into the canyon on soft sand made me more than nervous. That was the only way out...hiking up a huge mountain of soft beachy sand. Slow and steady wins the race, and with Carsons help (he came back down after he finished and took my pack and hiked up the rest of the way with me-- can you say lifesaver?) WE MADE IT BACK TO THE TOP! I gave a riveting "awakening" speech, and then it was back through crack in the wall and on our way to the car.
It was so nice to talk with Linds as we crossed the rocky terrain. It was slow paced, and we talked about what we had learned about ourselves on this trip. Olivia joked at one point that there sure was alot of symbolism on this trip. Seriously though, we had a parallel for everything- from awakening to rebirth. I realized I can do hard things. Things I don't like. Things I would rather not do. And even if it's hard, or challenging, or painful, I can still accomplish those things and feel good about my effort. It exhausting, but worth it.
We finished! This is us at the trailhead after all was said and done. Like how my hands are on the buckle? I think my pack was off in about 3 seconds and I had my shoes off in about 5. I was a happy girl to sit in that car.
We drove into Escalante to see our family home. It's more run down than I remember, but it's still standing. (for the record, I'm talking about the house, not us. I know we look run down, but we're not that bad, right? Maybe you'd say differently if you'd seen us limping over there to take that picture!)
And then we went to Nemos (just a local burger place) that by some miracle was open on Sunday. Carson got the largest hamburger ever made. We ate onion rings and chicken fingers and...wait for it... they had good ice. I almost wept. Carson went back and got me my own big cup for the road-- now that's love.
And there you have it. I still can't believe it happened. If I didn't have blisters and a wicked limp, I'd question these pictures. Everyone keeps asking, "so how was it?"
It was hard. I hated parts of it. I loved parts of it. The company was exceptional. It was challenging. It was scary at times. My body hated me. My feet hurt. I hate chacos. It was beautiful. The weather was perfect. I learned alot about myself, emotionally. I learned my body can do things I didn't think it could. I would like to say I learned a little bit about backpacking. I ate trail mix and dehydrated eggs and ham.
It was the trip of a lifetime.
So long Escalante.
In case you're wondering, my next trip will be to CITY CREEK. I think I'll buy a sandwich and sit next to that little babbling brook and reminisce about "the awakening".