I am the last of “the Red Rocks Gang” to leave Zion. Like the last leaf dangling precariously from the bare bones limbs of the cottonwoods long after they have dropped their brilliant golden color for the season, I am reluctant to let go.
Each goodbye has taken a piece of me. It is like pulling the bandaid off one hair at a time. But none stung as badly as the “final goodbye” because it signifies that we have cheated just about all of the last bits of sunny, golden autumn out that we are going to get. It is now December, approaching my least favorite time of the year, and everyone has moved off in their own migratory directions. After leapfrogging with friends since early summer, I am about to test my mettle once more as a solo sojourner.
I have an ache in my gut and a lump in my throat that makes it tough to breathe. I try to remember the tips handed off on the trail and apply them to going through the motions of leaving this place that has touched me so deeply, chiseling walls of sandstone in my memory and painting a vermillion landscape across my heart. “Watch every footfall. Keep your center of gravity low. Make contact. Slow and steady. And remember to BREATHE.”
I have written more blog posts from Zion than any place I have been to date, indicative of the gifts that this area has to offer, and I have only hit the highlights. But as my dear cave diving friend Van used to say, “If you don’t leave, you can’t come back.”
Fare Thee Well, Dear Zion, Fare Thee Well.
“If I had wings….like Noah’s Dove
I would fly up the river to the land I love
Fare thee well, Dear Zion, Fare the well…
One of these mornings, and it won’t be long
You’ll look for me, and I’ll be gone
Fare thee well, Dear Zion, Fare the well…”
~ Dink’s Song, Joan Baez Version, Edited
Sunset over Watchman