Zion National Park is a place that inspires religion, with its cathedral-like mountains and the restrained garden-like feel in its valleys. I wasn’t necessarily inspired to the local religions of Utah, but I could feel how this unique national park made me want to strive for something bigger, loftier, higher. For five days, I chose the park as my idol, worthy as it is.
Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, I experienced a flood of emotions I didn’t expect. The chasm is enormous – it stretches 277 miles, runs about 1 mile deep, and an average of 10 miles across – but it seemed to signify something much more for me.
As I made my way into the vast expanse of Big Bend National Park, I felt I was on another planet. I was totally unfamiliar with this landscape: the heat, the sun, the prickly plants, and, of course, the sand and stone.
At times, I felt the beautiful expansiveness of this protected area. At other times, death became a pervasive thought. As a pale-skinned Yankee, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking how dangerous this landscape seemed and how awful (and easy) it would be to die here.
How do I even begin to describe my recent visit to Big Bend National Park? The experience was a story of contrasts and expansion.
To start, let me say that I’m a Midwesterner (born and raised in Detroit, Michigan) who went to college and lived in western Kentucky and Tennessee (Murray, Kentucky and Paris, Tennessee). And I’ve lived in Vermont since 2003. I’m used to a few environments: cement, sprawling farmland, and mountainous greenery. Big Bend was really my first experience with a desert landscape.
I recently spent 16 days in Asheville, North Carolina. I housesat for a couple and their dogs, which gave me a really affordable way to explore the city slowly and from a location just a few miles from downtown.
I’ve heard great things about Asheville. One coworker just returned from the area and another was heading there. It also popped up on my radar screen a few times as a burgeoning beer and food mecca while I was learning about the hiking opportunities in the area.
In this week of posts celebrating the Green Mountain Club’s 100th Birthday, I thought I would get off of the promotional soapbox and just talk about hiking, one of my favorite things to do. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that sitting on top of mountains is actually my favorite thing to do, but hiking to the top is pretty cool too.
The truth is, I work pretty hard. Sometimes my passion for my work becomes drive and focus and, well, Work. I love it, but I also want to strike a balance. That’s when I hike. And I find the most enjoyment in just 100 yards of hiking, not even the whole hike.
The phrase “Annual Meeting” even sounds boring to me. But do not be fooled: the Green Mountain Club Annual Meeting is going to be a blast. After all, it will be the 100th and nothing is worth celebrating more than a Centennial!
Check out the Spring 2010 Long Trail News for the awesome activities taking place year-round. Specifically check out page 7 for info on the annual meeting.
Here’s the rundown: