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The Art of Passing on the Trail

We headed west from Lake Powell into Utah. It was a fairly short, but windy drive to Kanab, we passed through Big Water again and I waved to my hidden hoodoos. After a couple of hours we herded our rig into the Kanab RV Corral and tied her up in her pen there for the week.

Arriving in Kanab underdressed

Arriving in Kanab underdressed

Our original plan had been to stay 10 days in St. George when we thought Ali’s family might come out to meet us and stay at the timeshare there, but that plan shifted out to a June reunion in Portland. So instead, our very generous dad Ken, offered to use timeshare points to get a 2 bedroom unit for us and our friends Saundie and Donna for 4 nights. The girls had planned to fly out to St. George to golf and hike in Zion for their 20th anniversary and the timing lined up perfectly. That freed us up to change things around, stay in Kanab for 5 nights before that and volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. We had 2 free days on either end of our volunteering to explore the Kanab area.

Our heater ran pretty much the entire first night. We intentionally keep it set at a fairly low temperature for sleeping and rely on our down comforter, so we woke up with cherry red cold noses. We pulled the comforter up over our heads and rochambeauxed (rock, paper, scissors) for who would make the dash to turn on the coffee pot. We’ve turned to this method of decision making quite often on this trip. Not that I don’t appreciate evaluating the choices and having discussions, but when you’re choosing between two wonderful things or who has to do a yucky thing, a quick rochambeaux cuts to the chase. At this point Ali hadn’t figured out my habits yet, so she was on a losing streak. She’s since realized that I have a strong tendency towards rock.

After a nice warm hearty breakfast, we bundled up in long johns, sweatshirts, stocking caps and our winter coats and opened the RV door for the first time that morning. It was see-your-breath cold, but we weren’t to be daunted. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, here we come. We experienced a few glimpses of the pink dunes as we were driving in, but finally we arrived at the fee station and were treated to this:

Coral Pink is right

Coral Pink is right

Clouds racing across the sky made for interesting light

Clouds racing across the sky made for interesting light

We were nearly alone at the park and the people we did see made really quick appearances and then rushed back to huddle in their cars to get warm again. There would be no sand sledding and no barefoot hiking this day. We found a loop trail fairly close to the Visitors Center that took us out into the dunes, so we trudged out into the deep sand at a jog to get our body temps up.

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Had the day been warmer I’m sure we would have enjoyed the park longer. We saw a sign for ATV rentals and were tempted, but there was no one manning the trailer. We wandered, took photos, climbed dunes, ran down them and then packed it in for the day. It was a good thing we left when we did, because it started snowing on the way home. We spent the afternoon in the RV watching snowflakes fall and sipping hot coffee drinks.

The almost ATV ride

The almost ATV ride

Ali along the trail

Ali along the trail

The downside of shoe hiking - piles of sand get in them

The downside of shoe hiking – piles of sand get in them

Ali's fence photo

Ali’s fence photo (one of 23)

Before our shift on the second day of volunteering, we drove into the sanctuary early to do a hike on their property to Hidden Lake. It was a cave that was deep enough to have an underground fed lake inside. We had a very rough hand-drawn map to get us to the trail head, but that was it. We faced several choices of direction along the way and almost gave up at one point, but we started to see water trickling down the path and were encouraged. We gave ourselves a rousing cheer when we arrived.

We found it YAY!

We found it, YAY!

Cave Entrance

Cave Entrance

Outside the cave exploring

Outside the cave exploring

Stripes

Stripes

Beautiful color and texture in the rock outside the cave

Beautiful color and texture in the rock outside the cave

From inside the cave - down, down.

From inside the cave – down, down.

The lake is hard to see, but there's a reflection in the water

The lake is hard to see, but there’s a reflection in the water

With our last day in Kanab we decided to invest it in a long drive to Mt. Carmel and then on to the East Entrance of Zion National Park to hike the East Rim Trail. Our friends Saudie and Donna had emailed about a couple of hikes we might do in the park in the next few days that were down in the main park area near Springdale, one of which was Angel’s Landing. Ali and I read up on the trail description which included mention of a 1400 foot change in elevation. The first 2 miles the East Rim Trail climbed 1000 feet, so we decided it would be excellent training. I’m out of breath just remembering.

Beauty can grow even in the most in hospitable places

Beauty can grow even in the most inhospitable places

The trail ahead of us

The trail ahead of us

A view from halfway

A view from halfway

Almost there

Almost there

We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches atop the summit

We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches atop the summit

Another view from our lunch spot

Another view from our lunch spot

Along the way up we passed a few other hikers, tall ones and thin ones, brown ones and white ones, “hello-ers” and silent ones, alone ones and pairs, but one couple stood out. They carried full backpacking gear, probably because they’d spent the night somewhere along the 11 mile trail that goes from inside the canyon at Weeping Rock and up and over the Eastern Rim and down and out the other side. The young woman of the pair was barely bigger than her pack, but that wasn’t what marked them in our minds, it was the enormous smiles on their faces as they greeted us heading the other direction. Big hellos were exchanged and Ali and I were instantly warmed by their happiness, like a wave hitting us. We continued on in our opposite directions, but their energy stayed with us. We talked about how it felt when we’ve passed a serious, or quiet, or frowning person on the trail, or someone who didn’t return our hello and how different it was from what we’d just experienced. We decided right then and there to always be happy hikers, with enormous smiles and big hellos for anyone we passed on the trail, so that we could hope to spread the same kind of warmth and joy we had been gifted with that day.

P.S. You can be a happy shopper, a happy stand-in-liner, a happy sit in traffic driver – a happy anything really. Try it, it’s so cool.