Today was a pumping day with a hike up the virgin river to The Narrows. It is cold and slippery and awesome. As the sand, water and dirt accumulate in overwhelmed shoes, so too the feeling of peace and joy accumulate in the heart. To enter a pure, and in actuality as well as name, virgin place it is difficult not to be internally affected.
Walking directly up the river has the powerful affect of creating a feeling of connection with the environment, possibly even a feeling of change. Each visitor is not simply strolling by, or walking over a track or mountain. To enter the Virgin river is to enter into a mutual interaction with the country. Water rushes into shoes and over shorts, rocks press and roll beneath searching feet. The walls close around heavily occupied vision and the river pulls at invigorated skin.
Striding up the canyon into the Narrows takes the traveller away from civilisation and into nature. The river claims the attention and the canyon walls surge forwards to earn it back. Small sandy banks and islands become as a forgotten home or a long lost friend. Sanctuaries from the relentless cold reach of the rushing water.
The river is at one moment an enemy to be avoided and escaped as soon as possible, then quickly transforms into a companion. A fellow traveller moving through the ancient rock kingdom. Briefly enjoying the mighty scale and inspiring shapes of the canyon walls, then hastily flowing on to new sights and furthur turmoil. It doesn't flow alone.
With every step a stone is turned or rolled, sand is kicked and scattered, water is splashed and shifted. The river and canyon are permanently altered by the awkward stumbling presence of human visitors. Each new passage slightly changes the pristine landscape.
It is however highly likely that the affect is repaid in full with the river leaving its cold, sandy and magnificent impression firmly on its fast moving and temporary canyon companions.
I was a willing and joyful companion yesterday. The word spectacular describes more than Utah's Zion National Park, today it reaches to describe my buoyant spirit and fast flowing sense of optimism.