36° 7' 6.93'' N, 112° 2' 43.6'' W
My freshman year of college I received a call from a longtime friend asking if I wanted to backpack the Grand Canyon with him come summertime. There were only two acceptable answers, “Yes” or “You’re coming whether you like it or not.” As I had only having car camped with my family before, I decided, “What the hell.” Six months and lots of planning later we set out across country taking plane, train, and automobile to arrive at the North Rim of the Canyon. With all of us eager to get our feet wet and start the hike, we set off. The next six days were tiring and tough, but the most fun any of us had ever had on a trip. The process was so simple and pure. The only objective was to make it from point A to point B in however much time it took. The distance and difficult elevation grade went out the window when faced with the incredible views we saw. Needless to say, I was hooked.
37° 44' 45.31'' N, 119° 31' 59.52'' W
By the end of the Grand Canyon trip, we were already making plans for the following summer’s hike. The next two semesters couldn’t go by fast enough. This time around we had the experience to know what worked, what didn’t and what was tasty enough to justify carrying the weight. The southwestern landscape of the Grand Canyon was beautiful, but we were excited to add some greenery into the mix. Once Yosemite was settled on, we planned a route that took us along the top rim, over El Capitan, across from Half Dome, and back down Yosemite Falls to the starting point. The hike was longer, steeper, and the cold, rainy weather proved to be a challenge. At the same time, we could make fires, which meant no more cold food, and there was never a need to ration the water. The geography of Yosemite was unreal. My photos will never do the views justice. It is truly something you have to experience for yourself.
37° 18' 18.02'' N, 112° 56' 56.8'' W
By now, not only had the summer backpacking trip become a given, but I had also developed an expectation of these grand western national parks. It was obvious that the next park to tackle was Zion. Though each park is completely independent from another, I liked to think of Zion as a hybrid of the two. Not only was the geography similar to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but we had also built a solid knowledge base of how we wanted to tackle these trips. Transportation to the parks themselves had become an adventure in and of itself; we had really gotten down what we absolutely needed and what weight we wanted to carry, and route planning was much smoother, or so we thought. The weather we had while hiking Zion led to a few rainy nights and flash flood warnings. Adaptability became the name of the game. Just when we thought we had it all down, Mother Nature humbled us real quick.