National Park Girl Steals My Heart

“Do you have any experience in the backcountry?” asked the ranger.

“Yes,” I replied, even though I’d only once stayed overnight in backcountry.

“Do you have the proper gear?”

“Yes.” I was pretty sure I was prepared. I’d gone camping at campgrounds countless times, and I was well read on venturing into the backcountry.

“Well then, she’ll take care of you.” The ranger pointed me to the young lady working the register in the visitor center gift shop. She was beautiful. She had a contagious smile and was naturally friendly, asking me where I was from and where I was going. She shared with me how it was her dream to visit Acadia National Park in Maine. She turned over the back of one of the calendars being sold and pointed to Bass Harbor Lighthouse. “Isn’t that just beautiful?” she said. I shared with her that I would be going to Acadia in July. “I’m jealous,” she said in a playful way.

She proceeded to take out a large white binder that had been hidden behind the desk. It was full of wilderness information and forms for backcountry permits. She showed me a map of the wilderness area which was separated into five zones. She made a recommendation on where to go and told me it would be great to visit the Onyx Bridge- a nearly complete tree, fallen and petrified, forming a bridge over a wash. The paper she gave me had a picture of the bridge and the GPS coordinates.

I filled out the paperwork and she gave me instructions. I was to take the wilderness permit with me at all times and return it to the visitor center when I return the following morning. If I were to return before the Visitor Center opened I could hang my permit on the door. The piece of paper had a sort of wire string so that it could hang- most intentionally to hang from a backpack. She told me to park at the Painted Desert Inn, and from there descend a steep trail into the canyon wilderness area. There would be no trails nor markings, and I would be free to camp anywhere at least one mile into the wilderness area. I also had to set up camp before 8:00pm.

This moment was exciting. Just the thought of having an official wilderness permit from the National Park service was super cool. It made me feel like big stuff. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep the permit forever, so I took a picture to document the momentous occasion. I then, of course, bought a pin, and left.

I sat out in my car thinking about the young lady who issued me the permit. She intrigued me. She did not fit the stereotype of someone I would expect to find working for the National Park Service. My limited experience and ignorance sort of led me to this idea that most young ladies who work for the National Park Service are tall, blond, thin, athletic, and rather stern. There’s nothing wrong about that. It’s attractive in its own way, but this young lady seemed more like a city girl who one day fell in love with nature and never turned back. She was short, African American, and had a personality that ran free. I felt like in our interaction there was something- chemistry, an instant connection. I had to do something about this.

Typically I am very passive in my interactions with people. This approach probably naturally formed out of low self-esteem in my younger years. The thought passing through the back of my mind is: If someone cares about me enough to talk to me, let them instigate the conversation, otherwise keep to myself. It’s certainly not the best approach, and I had been working on becoming more bold and proactive in forming relationships. And so I thought, what can I do?  It would be too forward to give her my number since we just met and she lived in Arizona and I in Kentucky, but there had to be some way to stay in contact. I had an idea! I just started a travel blog while utilizing the free wi-fi on the airplane. I would give her the link to my blog, and therefore she would have a way to stay connected with me. I tore a piece of paper out of my journal, wrote down the link, and went back into the visitor center.

“I just wanted to give you the link to my travel blog, because I am going to upload pictures from Acadia later this summer.”

It all seemed like a good idea, but unfortunately the summer came and went, and I never added a single thing to that blog. I left the solitary entry about Death Valley remain. Now I don’t even remember how to access it. So this fanciful connection with this National Park gal is gone, but I’ll always remember her. She was very unique.

The previous summer when I was in Zion National Park, I remember sitting somewhere at the trailhead to the Narrows after completing my journey. There were two guys, probably college age, sitting nearby.  

“There are so many hot girls on the trail,” one said.

The other confirmed it.

“I need to have like a card or something with my number on it to pass out.”

I’ll never forget this, because it truly and comically resonated with me. There’s something really attractive about a woman who embraces nature and adventure. Part of it is simply the thought of having not only a companion but a companion to adventure with. Physically, a lot of the young ladies out on the trails are very fit, and fitness is such an attractive thing as it displays health, vitality, and says something about self-worth. Also anyone seriously adventuring into the parks has to have a certain level of intellect- because intellect is needed to brave the wild. Although nature can be a place of peace, it requires alertness, planning, and constant decision making. Lastly, most people who venture into the wild know themselves, because they must know their limits and know how far they can stretch those limits. There is something very attractive about  people who really are in tune with themselves and know who they are.

Maybe one day I will have an adventure babe, but for now I venture alone. And here I was with my wilderness pass in hand, on the brink of a new adventure, and ready to explore the Petrified Forest (and perhaps evade any inquisitor or Imperial raid I might encounter).

Check back for my account of exploring the wilderness area of the Petrified Forest.

Read the Previous Entry “Becoming ‘One with Nature'” here: https://joshthehodge.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/becoming-one-with-nature/

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Becoming “One with Nature”

As I approached Petrified Forest National Park, I started playing one of the Star Wars soundtracks. I was half expecting to find an Imperial craft flying above me, a Lothal cat roaming the landscape, or an inquisitor with a bright red lightsaber emerging onto the scene. When I had seen pictures of this park, it reminded me entirely of the planet Lothal from Star Wars Rebels. Lothal is the home planet of Ezra Bridger, and a unique landscape with a combination of prairie and desert with striped and rounded rock formations standing solidarily in fields.

When I am planning my National Park adventures I do plan for the music that is going to accompany my arrival at each park. Last year I chose the Planes: Fire and Rescue soundtrack for driving into Yosemite, because I learned the creators of the movie were inspired by the park. The soundtrack accompanied the park just perfectly, and now when I play the music from Planes: Fire and Rescue, images and memories of Yosemite come back to me very vividly. Music in very powerful and a place in which to store memories.

Before arriving at the Petrified Forest, I traveled from Saguaro National Park and was captivated by the scenic drive to get there. I arrived via highways 77 and 60 which passed through the Tonto National Forest (“tonto” is the Spanish word for stupid -maybe not the best word choice). I also passed through the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache Tribe Reservations. I pulled over maybe five times to snap pictures and take it all in. The roads were curving around the edge of striking canyons and over majestic mountains. The views were just so stunning that at one particular spot I pulled my car over to the side of the road, stepped outside to the embracing heat, and just sat on the edge of the canyon overlooking the bend of a river and wept.

I cried. I cried in response to the beauty of it all. I had probably seen more beautiful vistas, but not for a long while, so this cut deep inside me. I also felt a sense of accomplishment in being able to arrive at such a beautiful and new vista. Being able to take these adventures is not easy. It follows a year of hard work. It follows a year of trying to take six-hundred students from point A to point B in the classroom. It follows a semester of grad school when I’m expected to work more hours than what exists. It follows my annual battle with my health insurance company which would rather have me dead. My summer vacation marks the end of all of these things. It’s a checkpoint and an opportunity to look and back and see that I survived. It’s a moment to really stop and take in the finish-line and release all the emotions that have been suppressed to stay afloat. It’s a moment to realize I don’t have any responsibilities, except to breath deeply.

It’s also in these beautiful vistas that I see a reflection. I see a reflection of God. I don’t see happenstance and chaos that create a beautiful vista, but I see something carefully designed, placed, and molded with time and weather by the Creator. And in such moments as this one, when I stop to really take in the beauty, it’s as if I lock eyes with the Creator. God is showing me something incredible he has created. As I am captivated in awe by the work of art around me, I realize the very same artist who constructs these amazing views with great depths, great heights, and abundant detail, is the same one who created and molded me. I’m overcome with thankfulness and humility as I am reminded where I come from. I come from the very same hands which crafted the beauty of this world.

As I connect with God in this moment, I also connect to the land, realizing I am but another piece on it’s beautiful canvas. Nothing is strange, nothing is too different nor invasive. The land and everything that grows and roams around on it is sourced by the very same artist. It’s such an incredible feeling to come to this understanding and truly embrace it. To me it’s part of what I would consider “becoming one with nature.”

Gaining my composure, and feeling one with the Force (or nature) I continued on my 275 mile drive to Petrified Forest National Park. I arrived with my Star Wars music playing loudly. I rolled into the visitor center, like pulling up to the Rebel base. First order of business- securing a wilderness permit.

Read the next entry “National Park Girl Steals My Heart” here: https://joshthehodge.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/national-park-girl-steals-my-heart-2/

Read the previous entry “Saguaro National Park: Land of Killer Bees,” here: https://joshthehodge.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/saguaro-national-park-land-of-killer-bees/

 

Saguaro National Park: Land of Killer Bees

The Africanized Honey Bees a.k.a. “killer bees” are found throughout Saguaro National Park. What makes them so dangerous is that even if you offend one bee, the insect releases a pheromone that attracts the rest of the colony in a swarm to assault the perpetrator, or so I’ve read. And if you end up finding yourself too close to a hive in the bees sacred “safe space,” you might as well consider yourself dead.

These bees are no joke. They are a cross-breed that were mixed to increase honey production in Brazil but later made their way into  south Texas and now Southern Arizona. I was reading all about the Africanized Honey Bee after seeing the safety warning on the Saguaro National Park website.

Needless to say, I had no encounters with bees at Saguaro National Park. Everything about my time in the park was pleasant. It started at the Red Hills Visitor Center at the Saguaro West Tucson Mountain District. Something a bit peculiar about this National Park is that there are two distinct parts of the park separated by the city of Tucson.

When I got out of my car at the visitor center I noticed the National Park centennial flag flying high, a beautiful vista of Saguaro cacti all around me, and the mountains resting in the distance. Inside a park ranger, or perhaps just a visitor center employee, told me hiking is not recommended in the heat, but that I could drive the Bajada Scenic Loop. I appreciated the advice, but I knew she didn’t know that last summer I went hiking and camping in Death Valley and the Mohave Desert. I can handle the heat. While I had her attention I asked for the best directions to get to my campground at Catalina State Park. She was very friendly and helpful, giving me area maps and detailed directions. I have only ever had very positive experiences with everyone who works for the National Park Service. As tradition, before leaving the visitor center, I purchased a pin. I purchase a pin at every National Park I visit. It’s my one cost effective souvenir.

After simply taking some pictures outside and around the visitor center I drove to the DSC03171Desert Discovery Nature Trail, which is a short interpretive half-mile loop around various cacti. There were some impressive Saguaros to observe. I learned that the inside of the Saguaro cactus can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the air outside. Therefore birds, kangaroo rats, and even foxes find shelter within the cactus. I would have never known this and find it fascinating that there is much more to the cactus than what meets the eye. Walking around the trail loop was intriguing as simple and short as it was. I had been in deserts before but not a desert with so much cacti and plants. The ground itself was very barren and crusty but all over and placed, in such an impressive array, were all sort of cacti and rocks. It almost looked like it was designed purposely despite it being wild. Also looking up at the Saguaro evoked a feeling similar to that of looking upon the mighty Sequoia- both are iconic, stately, and extremely resilient plants. While the Sequoia is largely fire resistant, the Saguaro is heat and sun resistant, enduring extreme heat and sunlight. These plants just give off an inspiring essence of strength.

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Here on the nature trail I took quite a few photos, not only of cacti and the mountains over to one side, but admittedly of myself. I wanted to get a picture of myself with the Saguaro. I have a walking stick that also doubles as a monopod for my camera. In many terrains it’s easy to shove the stick into the ground and set the timer on my camera. Here the desert floor was so hard I could not get my stick to stand upright, so taking photos was a bit more challenging.

There were many small lizards scurrying about this trail too. I did manage to get a few good lizard pictures.DSC03207

After my peaceful trail walk, I embarked on the one-way Bajada Scenic Loop in my car. Since it is one-way, it was a commitment. There was no turning around- although at times I was concerned it was a little too rough on the car. But we managed without any problem at all. I pulled over at a few times to take pictures and took a short hike up Signal Hill to check out some petroglyphs- the first of many petroglyphs I would see on this trip.

I knew my time in Saguaro National Park would be brief. I wasn’t planning extensive hikes. I wasn’t planning to stay long. I mean after all- killer bees! But in all sincerity, I knew it was a small National Park. So, after a couple hours, I was done. That was it. I left just thinking, that it was very pleasant, and something new. I had never experienced this type of desert landscape and had never seen the Saguaro in its natural habitat.

DSC03268I departed Saguaro National Park and made my way around the outskirts of Tucson to Catalina State Park where I had reserved a campsite in advance. When I made my reservation I did so online rather blindly. When I arrived I was surprised to find that my reserved campsite was probably the most scenic one in the whole place. From where I pitched my tent, I had an amazing view of the Catalina Mountains, which were golden with the warm glow of late evening sun resting upon them. There were a number of holes in the ground where rather large ants and beetles would run in and out of. I tried setting up my tent in the least obtrusive area. While I was setting up my tent, I saw a coyote trotting around just next to my campsite with the mountains behind him.

This campground was not remote. It was close to the entrance of the park and had newly laid blacktop all throughout. It was well developed, with trash receptacles and bathrooms with showers. However, I only saw one other campsite occupied, So I was pretty much alone. it was very peaceful.

I pitched my Kelty Salida 2, my new tent, one of two tents I brought on this trip. Kelty is very airy and intended for hot desert environments, while my other tent, more sturdy and insulated, which I call “True Blue,” is for colder and wetter environments.

After I set up camp I drove across the street from the state park to none other than Wal-Mart- very convenient. Now, camping in a park across the street from a Wal-Mart in say Kentucky sounds just very sketchy. But this Wal-Mart had to be the nicest fanciest Wal-Mart I have ever been to. The parking lot was immaculate with landscaped islands and classical music piped throughout. It did seem very fitting though, because surrounding this area were private, planned communities with very fancy and expensive desert oases.

I bought a sandwich, Greek yogurt, and an apple, which I later ate in my car for dinner, as well as food for the next couple days. I also had to buy lot of gear for the month ahead. Since I arrived to the West by plane, I could only bring so much, so I had to buy a sleeping bag, pillow, matches, batteries, and food storage containers. I also bough a $8 camping air mattress for those nights I would really need a good sleep.

DSC03294This night I slept in my tent on the ground in just my sleeping bag. I brought my road atlas and driving GPS with me into the tent to work on my route for the following day. I wasn’t looking at the atlas very long before I fell asleep. I slept well, except remembering waking up a few times cold. I wasn’t expecting it to get cold at night. In the morning I woke up to a chorus of coyotes. I took advantage of the shower at the campground, knowing my next opportunity for a shower would be a number of days away, a few National Parks later, and on the other side of the Navajo Nation.

I got in my car ready to slide up the east side of Arizona to Petrified Forest National Park-or in my mind, planet Lothal from Star Wars. Here I would secure my first wilderness permit and backpack into the wilderness to spend the night.

 

Check back tomorrow for my account of the wilderness on planet Lothal.

Free and Wild

“By yourself?” They always ask, as if the thought of camping and exploring by oneself is incomprehensible.

“Yes, by myself,” I reply.

“What about bears?” they ask.

Bears are awesome. Such strength. I respect the bear.

I know that my adventures out in the wild and in the National Parks by myself is not very common, but I have never felt among danger in the parks. To me they are safe places, beautiful sanctuaries, removed from the troubles of human society where the greatest danger to man is the fellow man. Here in the bliss of the wild, wrapped among ponderosa pines, hidden in grand canyons and peaceful deserts, with the company of the rushing river and solace of the moon, gazing at majestic mountains and stretching prairies, here I am at home. Here I find myself closer to the perfection of God. The wilderness has never felt dangerous to me, but to me it is the safest place I can be. It’s a place of healing, where the creator himself locks eyes with his creation and speaks to me.

Alone in the wild has never brought loneliness, because alone in the wild is to truly be in the company of many- the whispering trees, the roaring waters, the howling, the singing, the calling. All together they form an orchestra with one voice pointing me to and drawing me back to the source of all life. Theodore Roosevelt, one of my most admired adventurers said, “The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” Freedom waits there to be found in the wilderness, and once you find it, you are free, free to run up mountain sides, slide into ravines, stroll through deserts, venture through caves, admire crashing waves, and ponder canyon depths.

So a better question than “by yourself?” would be “free and wild?” and, yes, I would reply, free and wild.

The National Park system consists of 59 official National Parks, but over 400 park units, which means in addition to those parks which bear the simple title of “National Park” there are also National Historic Parks, National Recreation Areas, National Rivers, Seashores, Lakeshores and a simply an extensive gamut of sites managed by the National Park Service. It is my goal to visit the core 59 National Parks and visit as many other sites I can along the way. As of now I have visited 23 National Parks and because my experiences within these parks has been so extensive, I have decided now is the time to share with you all that I have seen and experienced. In these parks not only can I recount for you many intriguing real life adventures, but I can also share with you my musings and moments of inspiration, all the internal things I found in these places. Because just as great is the wilderness around me, so too my mind is a great  wilderness. The living landscape and the beauty of the physical wilderness around me illuminates and inspires that which grows wild within me.

She sat next to me on the airplane repeatedly puckering her lips and taking selfies with her phone. She had to be somewhere in her 20s. She took out her make up, then attempted to tweak her image to perfection. “So where are you going?” she asked. I shared with her my plans to visit 13 National Parks this summer.

“By yourself?” she questioned me.

“Yes, by myself.”

“In a tent?” she asked, after I shared my camping plans. “You cannot camp in a tent out West. All the snakes and scorpions will get inside while you are sleeping. You have to sleep in a hammock.” I was unphased by her remarks. I knew better. “I’m not worried. I was out West last summer and only encountered a rattlesnake once on a trail. It was no big deal.”

“I’m not scared of rattlesnakes either. I used to pick them up and play with them back home in Tennessee when I was a kid,” she explained. I did not buy this.

“What are your plans?” I inquired.

“First off I’m going to relax by my friend’s pool in Phoenix.” Those were not her exact words, for her words were much more vulgar. I really don’t know why she felt she needed to make amiable conversation into something so repulsive. She then proceeded to tell me of her plans to backpack with her friends into the Grand Canyon and stay two nights.

“Do you know how much water I should bring?” She inquired, then proceeded with: “…I mean, I have a couple of water bottles.”

I’m thinking to myself, you’re telling me it’s too dangerous to sleep in a tent in the desert, yet you are the one who is entertaining the thought that maybe two water bottles will be enough for a two night backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon.

“You’re going to need about a liter or two every hour. You are going to need gallons of water and you should carry a water filter,” I corrected. “You can never have too much water in the desert.”

As she continued to take more pucker faced selfies I thought to myself, this is a prime example of what I hope to get away from on this trip- the vulgar and self absorbed.  This girl’s friends are going to have to carry her out of the Grand Canyon, I thought. I sure hope her friends know what they are doing.

 

I stepped out of Phoenix Sky-Harbor into 106 degrees, which to me felt great. The warmth of the desert in the summertime is such an embracing comforting feel. However, I ran out of space when packing my suitcase, so I was wearing layers and was first burning up before I could enjoyed the dry heat blowing across my skin. My first task was checking out my rental car. I was able to secure a whole month for $600. I chose the Hyundai Accent, because it’s what I drive, and I know it has super great gas milage and is a tough little vehicle. After renting one the previous summer and taking it backcountry on dirt roads in Death Valley, crossing the Mojave Desert, and having it climb up to summits in the Sierra Nevada, I knew it was the vehicle I wanted to partner with for a while.  My first stop with my vehicle was at a Chipotle, to load up on some calories for the adventure ahead. Here in the parking lot I was able to finally shed layers and feel a less suffocating Arizona welcome. Next, I went to Wal-Mart to stock up on water, an essential move. Then, finally, with great anticipation I was off to my first truly notable destination- Saguro National Park.

Check out the account of Saguaro National Park: Land of Killer Bees here: https://joshthehodge.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/saguaro-national-park-land-of-killer-bees/

From the Mountain Top

The rivers and streams below me are so busy. I hear water rush over rocks and fall. But up here, above the forest, in the clouds, on the rocky tops, all their efforts seem trivial.

I observe as the clouds, the mist, the fog below me crawls, rises, and expands. The landscape grows larger. New windows open displaying distant peeks and lowest valleys.

From the depths everything rises. The trees in all directions stretch as high as they can. The mountains point to the sky and roll on their backs, gazing above in wonder. The fog slowly, steadily, in all directions, rises to blend into the white sky- majestically, beautifully, like praise being lifted into heaven.

And what do I see? What do I feel? That all my efforts are but rushing water. Life throws me into a river- all endeavors are to keep the water flowing. But here on the mountain top I find perspective. The landscape of life is much larger than my river and the beauty much greater than what I see.

One day I will leave my river. My spirit will rise like the fog, and the clouds will part ways to reveal a vista complete.

But now I return to the forest, to the water- to the rush and the flow, yet I know I am only below, and above I am a part of something bigger.

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The Canyons in My Life

I looked down over an expanse and saw a whole different world. Perched on its edge, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I would explore its grand expanse and profound depths. For now, the vista in front of me was so massive and colorful that my mind couldn’t take it all in, but I could admire the thousand shades of color, from rich red, to golden orange, pale brown, and deep purple. I entertained thoughts concerning the world below me, all the different nooks and crannies, all the different river ways, and the solitary towers of rock leaving islands in the sky. I could conjure up stories of adventure in the depths and speculate the history of people living in and passing through the narrows. Canyons are rich for the imagination and profound for inspiration.

At just around sunset I started this hike along the canyon rim at Canyonlands National Park. It had been a full day of hiking many trails and covering many miles. I felt accomplished, but I was getting tired and I wanted time to wind down, so just a leisurely stroll along the canyon rim at sunset seemed perfect.

When I go hiking I always end up taking away more than I can imagine, nothing physical, but rather inspiration, reassurance, and healing. Nature has a way of bringing about these things, and I’ve lived enough life to know that nature itself is not some mystical magical entity, but rather I believe nature is a creation designed purposefully to appeal to man and take him to depths of self actualization and to intimacy with God.  Often times when I go hiking alone, I find it to be the perfect time to pause, reflect, and just be in the presence of God. Out in the solace of His natural beauty, its sometimes easier to hear God speak. I have seen this evident in my own life in many instances, God uses natural beauty to speak to me. The rocks, the trees, the towering mountains, and canyon depths are designed to have meaning. They are symbols.

As I was was hiking along that rim, I was reflecting on my life, trying to pinpoint where exactly in my life I was feeling a corrosive emptiness and deficit, despite my fleeting feelings of accomplishment. I was pouring out to God this discontentment, and feeling of inadequacy. This was something that had plagued me for a while. I felt I was just not doing something right, that I wasn’t living up to my potential, and that my character was lacking something.

While I was feeling these heavy emotions, the sun was hidden behind a cloud and therefore the  countless canyons of Canyonlands were dark, mysterious, and seemingly bottomless. Lines separating the sections of the canyon were blurred from lack of sunlight. In this moment, suddenly it hit me, the realization that my own life has a number of canyons- deep and dark places where light just doesn’t shine, where the lines are blurred. I wasn’t sure exactly what those canyons were and what was the cause of them, but I knew there were dark places in my life where lines that separate truth from lies had been blurred, places that were corrosive that continued to grow deeper and darker. I asked God to show me the canyons in my life.

Canyons are very interesting things in relation to life. They are cavities in the earth’s surface caused by erosion over time. They are huge but can begin forming by something so simple as just a crack. Water eats away and erodes the trivial into something massive. However other times the impetus for formation is the land itself shifting as plates collide and move. And so the dark places in our lives can form very much like canyons. They may start as something trivial on the surface, a seemingly harmless sin, which over time can erode a person’s life. Sometimes those cracks we aren’t even responsible for, but they are caused by the abuse of others which start to erode our very being. Other times these canyons are formed by major life events, with loss or dramatic changes, when we feel the earth is pulled right out from under us.

As I was reflecting on canyons and their relevance to life, inspired by all the metaphors I could apply to life, suddenly the sun broke through an opening in the clouds. Beams of warm yellow light shot down and reached a number of canyons. The beams of light were situated at just the right angle that they illuminated the deepest canyons. And just like that a number of dark and dreary canyons became strikingly beautiful and awesome, no longer dreary and dark but rich in color and light.

At this moment God spoke to me, not in any audible voice but rather more directly, right to my soul. He told me that he can take the canyons in my life and turn them into something beautiful. Tears began to roll down my face in response to the beautiful parallels God was making and hearing His voice, which had seemed absent in my life for quite some time.

My first response was thankfulness, thankful that God met me here, literally out wandering in the desert. Secondly, I began searching my life for canyons. That evening I wasn’t sure of the canyons in my life, but I was ready to face them. I was inspired to seek change in my life and let God illuminate those dark places in my life.

This was a couple months ago when this happened. I have been able to identify some canyons in my life. I know one of my most profound canyons is selfishness, which is a complex and sprawling canyon.  I am still on a quest to find the rest of my canyons, confront them, and let God’s light transform them into something beautiful. I love how God is transformative and resourceful. He doesn’t let bad experiences and choices in life exist without redemption. God uses the dark places in our lives and illuminates them to bring him glory and fulfill his purpose.

If you are reading this I encourage you to take a hike out in nature and talk to God and ask him to show you your own canyons. I am uncertain of all my canyons, but I know God will lead me to them, and he can lead you to yours too.

I encourage you to try this whether you have faith in God or not. Just go out in nature and reflect on the places in life you need to work on to be a better you- the “canyons”. I pray that on your quest to find your canyons that you encounter God, because I’m telling you, there’s nothing more powerful.