“Following a traditional path works for most but if you ever find yourself feeling misplaced in our modern American culture, there are other options. Hiking long trails and existing on very little income is a viable alternative. Traveling the world to pursue adventure and explore unmarked terrain can provide more satisfaction then living out the American Dream.” – Jennifer Pharr Davis.
New Year’s Day 2021 and I’m back in Zion National Park on a 28 degree morning. I’m getting ready to bike my way up the canyon to The Narrows. As I prepare, thoughts flood my consciousness about how my life has unfolded over the decades.
The 1970’s : Pretty uneventful, I was born, grew up in small towns in a middle class to poor income. Life was full of playing outside catching tadpoles, fishing, playing with siblings, etc….
The 1980’s : Teenage trauma that scarred me for life, turmoil at home that caused me to leave the faith I grew up in, a time of confusion.
The 1990’s : Sex, drugs and rock and roll. From what I can remember, it was a party, but near the end of the decade I realized that hard work was going to be my only way toward any type of success. I settle into a family life of sorts, get a house, and try to live the American Dream.
2000’s: I get a job that turns into a career, but it takes all of my time and effort. I lose the family, but gain a path toward financial freedom and stability. Then I lose my sister, and our family falls apart. I once again become lost.
2010’s : My career allows the ability to travel, and so this becomes my new obsession. For most of the decade I find myself on the road constantly. I see and experience the World in ways I would have thought near impossible previously. Yet as the decade come to a close, I can’t help but feel that something needs to change.
Which brings me back to the cold morning in the parking lot of Zion on New Year’s Day.
I’ve come to the realization that non-stop globe trotting was fun, but I need to slow it on down. This decade needs to be all about preparation for retirement. I need to develop and stick with a financial plan for that inevitable day. This will include only one trip a year out of the country (if possible), with more time spent on my health and financial well being. I need to get back into reading.
I’m halfway through the canyon, and feeling good about my plan for the future.
I arrive to the entrance of The Narrows. Originally I had reserved gear to wade up the Virgin River, but realized the day before that I had no way to carry all the gear, including trekking poles, on my bike as I rode up the canyon. The water was too damn cold anyway.
So I hike as far one can go before being forced into the Virgin river.
Sitting in the sun on a rock next to the river, I watch group after group trek their way into the Narrows. I wish them well. Perhaps one day the stars will align for me to trek into this slot canyon myself, but today is not that day.
I decide to follow the river back down to where I left my bike, as there are far less people.
My time at the Narrows comes to an end. I jump on my bike and coast down the canyon, eventually coming back to the parking lot. I’m happy with my day, a great start to this new decade and with the plans and goals that I’ve set.