There’s something different about Zion National Park, something obvious and fundamental, something so simple that when you first encounter it you might not even notice. Like a magician’s trick your eye is drawn to the canyon’s towering walls and breathtaking beauty, while right under your nose hides a difference that shapes your experience of this sacred space more than the natural beauty ever could. Crowded into a shuttle with 50 other tourists, you might not be able to pick out exactly what it is that makes this place so special, but when a small group of cyclists cruises past as you step out to take in the awesomeness of the Big Bend, there’s a twinge of recognition. The difference? There are no cars.
Little Cottonwood Canyon. Highway 210. Alta.
The road climbs slowly at first, to a small bench above the valley floor. For a moment the trees and houses drop away and you can turn and soak in the sea of humanity. More often than not a dark haze obscures your view, the result of the transportation and industry of some 2.2 million people inhabiting the valley. Ahead, the road turns into the canyon, disappearing between the gleaming granite walls.
I like to go until my lungs burn and my legs feel like wet logs.
I like to go until it’s dark out, until I’m tired enough that exhaustion trumps hunger.
I like to go until my fingers are numb, or covered in gobies, until my toes are blistered and twisted.