The desert is a place of mysticism - of legends and tales and people who were. From the moment I enter Zion, I see the awkward coexistence of native spiritualism shoulder-to-shoulder with the rigid structure of brittle religion. The names of rocks struggle for truth, having been changed throughout the ages. Is this place truly Zion, or is it Mukuntuweap? Maybe it’s something that’s older than all that — it is it’s own entity, inexplicable by human language.
Zion, as we call her now, is somewhat akin to a kooky aunt you may know, or even have. You know, that one lady with a story for every knick knack, with all of her funky jewelry and brightly colored drapery. There is harmony in the unpredictability of the weather and the jagged cracks that shoot through the red towers. There is gratuitous shelter from harsh weather and perfectly placed wildflowers that are host to colorful butterflies and curious squirrels. As giving as she is though, she is terrible — the dry winds whip at your layers and suffocate your words. Snow and burning sun alternate on your skin, minutes from each other. We are tiny specks on the wall, trying, in our own colorful way.
Our desert journey didn’t start there, however. We started in Red Rock, Nevada, a place I’ve been a few times before. It’s only now that I’m starting to understand what it feels like to climb in Red Rock, though. I’ve had some fun bouldering and sport climbing in Red Rock, but it’s the multi-pitch climbing that really shines here. Stories around the campfire about epic descents while staying up late to wait anxiously for friends — these events, I’ve learned, happen often.
Between the Red Rocks and Zion portions of our road trip, we camped and bouldered at Moe’s Valley in St. George, Utah. I loved the quality of the rock, but it tore through my fingers after five days of climbing already on them. It wasn’t until we had already left St. George, that I learned just how much climbing is possible in the area. Next time, I’ll be better equipped with guidebooks and beta, and I’m hopeful for some great climbing experiences here.
What are some of your favorite Southwest road trips? Any stops, climbs or eats you recommend? Respond in the comments below!