“FWAAAP!” Thunder and lighting in the distance.
I can still feel the first drops of water on my face as we reached the bottom of the canyon. A storm was rolling in, or was it rolling out? There was no way to know for sure. But we weren’t turning around. We had walked to the bottom of the canyon; surrounded by Hoodoos, my family, and fellow adventures to whom we never said a word, we still had a hike to finish. When did a good story ever come from someone turning back the way they came at the first possibility of rough roads ahead? Yeah, I can’t think of one either.
We descended deeper, with each step we took it was as if we were taking steps back in time.
“This places feels so ancient,” I exclaimed to my family, the sense of awe stuck to my words as they hung in the humid air.
“It feels prehistoric,” Dad replied, snapping us all out of the trance the landscape was putting us in and we marched on.
“That’s the word, ‘prehistoric.'”
A deep rumbling started off in the distance and grew ever louder until it was right over our heads, we were in the thick of it. The fear, like the thunder, was rolling in as well. We stopped for a water break, one of many more to come. Apparently descending six hundred feet and climbing back out six hundred feet isn’t easy eight thousand feet above sea level. We were soon to find out that this was in fact true. After our water break we continued on. The landscape was little different now. No longer surrounded by the deep orange canyons, we came to an opening surrounded by trees and relatively flat ground. The silence was alive. We looked around at all the trees. They were so hardy, able to find life in what seemed to be a hostile environment. Some of them were dead, burned, shocked, probably by the same lightning that was mocking us overhead. A subtle hint for what was to come? Probably. But we kept on.
With Dad and Meghan up ahead of us, they stopped to drink some water and take shelter under a tree from the ever worsening weather conditions. A much needed break. We were all perhaps a little razzled, but none of us decided to show it. We were now at the point where we would have to start our climb back to the rim of the canyon where we started the hike. Sprinkles were coming and going in waves but it seemed like the thunder was steady.
“Let’s take a right at this fork, its 0.1 miles shorter so it’ll get us out of this weather quicker.” My dad did not hesitate to agree.
Back into the slot canyons, and back next to the familiar hoodoos. The mud was thickening on our shoes. The stark contrast of the bright orange mud against my monochrome shoes gave me a butterfly of delight. But I decided to keep my head up, there were many more things to see up there. We slowly made our ascent, the altitude making itself very known.
We came across a canyon with two natural stone bridges. Formed by water thousand of years ago, these bridges stood as monuments to the sheer power of water over time. When comparing the two, it seems as if rock is more powerful than water, after all one is a solid and one is a liquid. But give water time, and rock might as well be butter under a hot knife.
We took refuge under a rock ledge from the rain once again. We could now see a winding path up to what looked like a view point. Time to conquer it. What would have taken five minutes to walk down in dry conditions took us no shorter than three times that in the mud that was now apparently a trail. But we made it to the viewpoint. Thor’s Hammer, as it’s called, welcomed us. A Hoodoo of astonishing size pointed us the way out. As we stopped to admire this creation of time, the rain starts hurting more than usual.
“What the hail?!” Meghan called out jokingly.
“I can’t believe it!” Mom exclaimed.
There we were in the beauty of Bryce Canyon: wet from rain, tried from exertion, and content from our achievements – getting hailed on. The adrenaline rush that followed gave us all enough energy to make it to the top after scraping the mud off the bottom of our shoes. Again a butterfly of joy from the difference in color.
Back in the presence of people, our mini vacation within a vacation was over. We didn’t know how long we were gone. We examined the clouds that made fun of us in the canyon and saw that they were in fact moving away from us. Funny how the brain seems to think otherwise when surrounded in the unknown.
Back at the car and sitting in the dry warmth, I longed for what I had just experienced. Something was alive in that canyon, maybe it was just me, or maybe it was the trees, the water, the sand, the dirt, the thunder, the Hoodoos, my family, the lightning. We all knew it but we didn’t know how to describe it. Something wanted us back there, back to that state of mind, that state of being. Wet, cold, tired, and longing for more adventure, we were happy.