“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
With only days to spare before heading into Jason’s dreaded fifth knee surgery, we decided we had to break our newest family member in. Enter: Pokey Dimples, our 22’ Cuddle Shuttle. We Mavericks, fantasize a lot. One of those fantasies was to purchase a home on wheels. This year brought us so many blessings, we were finally able to realize this fantasy. She started burning a hole in the driveway the minute we bought her. With her came adventure and opportunity, a Zion vacation seemed the ideal spot to give her a test run.
Being that we were new to the motor-homing community, we decided on a campground that would catch our fall if we came ill-prepared. We landed on Zion Ponderosa, a half hour drive outside the Park, through the famous Mt. Carmel Tunnel. This drive, alone, is a sight to behold. The shifting of colors as you emerge from the valley tickle the senses and encourage imagination. With a reasonable nightly rate came a slew of amenities, including (2) pool/jacuzzi areas with the most gorgeous sprawling views overlooking the canyon. In the quiet evenings, you can catch the most radical star gazing, and hear the wind howling through the canyon like a wailing Banshee.
We were able to soothe our bones in the life-changing hot tubs, ride bikes, rent hiking shoes, pet baby goats, indulge in some ooey-gooey Vegan pizza, teach the little one how to safely build a holographic fire and explore all the hidden gems this campground home has to offer. We would return again in a heartbeat.
The evenings in Zion offer a tranquility that recharges the soul. We enjoy coming back to camp as there is no shortage of mischief and fun to be had when Bryn and dad get together.
This family getaway was all about Troll Hunting and Bryn was on a mission, everywhere we went. Jason orchestrated a nighttime hunt, equipped with headlamps, and the perfect expedition for the Troll Party that was popping off in the wilderness. Bryn had to summon her courage and made her way through the darkness, finding solo Troll travelers as we searched. The magic that arrives on her face when she senses her own accomplishments makes our hearts swell with joy and pride. We knew there was one more Troll in these parts, so before we set off for a hike, Dada and Bryn built a trap. A kindness trap with an Oreo set as bait. They were brilliant in their trap design and Bryn flourished when engineering such a device. With half a Gatorade bottle propped up by a cord bound stick, they were ready to capture the last colorful friend. When we returned, after a long day, she found who she was looking for and her collection was complete.
“It’s better to be a lion for a day, than a sheep all your life.“
Grotto Trail to Scout’s Lookout
After careful trail analysis, we decided to make our way to Angel’s Landing the first day. We weren’t sure if we would take Bryn up Hogsback to Angel’s Landing Summit, as it is said to be one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. We have never been the family that chooses the “easy” option first. Instead, we decided to make our way up the Grotto trail, took a cool down in Refrigerator Canyon, conquered the 21 strenuous switchbacks of Walter’s Wiggles, and made our way to Scout’s Lookout, where we shared our lunch with Chipmunks.
For hikers with little ones, the sight of the spine of Hogsback may give you a shiver in your own. We took one look at it and decided there wasn’t a reward great enough to settle the uncertainty we had about taking our 3 year old up. For more avid hikers, it may be a great adventure. For us, it felt like the right choice to give it a respectful salute and “may we meet you again”, when the time is right.
Instead, the mischievous stirrings of Trolls had been calling to Bryn from the base of the trail. She was fearless in her pursuit to find the elusive Poppy & Branch, and she found exactly who she was looking for. We were simply amazed with how confidently her feet made their way around the terrain, deft in her maneuvers over the rock, giving mommy and daddy heart attacks as we came to the 1,000 foot drop-offs.
As our shaky legs made the 2.5 mile trek back down, we found a shady, but sun kissed section, where the acoustics created the most perfect echo hallway. We try to encourage Bryn to stay wild. To embrace neither the good or bad, but the space right in the middle. The space to playfully create your own sense of balance. This natural amphitheater seemed the perfect platform to let herself roar, to feel and hear what it’s like to express the power within. The reverberation of her voice bouncing off the canyon walls also pierced right through our hearts. To hear her howl, unrestrained and free, solidified devotion in our hearts to help nurture her untamed uniqueness. The magic that is specific to only her. It is pretty incredible to watch a child take in the world, one adventure at a time, and see it bloom into a confidence and courage that will shape their position in this upside down world.
This hike was more than just 5 miles up then down. It taught us about the tenacity that even a three year old can possess. When given a safe pathway, she can be as wild, enchanting and dynamic as the canyon below.
Icing Sore Piggies – The Narrows
Day two of our Zion vacation, we woke with a little less pep in our step, after spending our first day as trail ninjas. We made our way to the Riverside Walk and got our feet wet at the mouth of the Narrows.
This hike was a perfect antidote for our sore legs and tired minds. Around every bend, comes a new awe-inspiring view. It is suitable for the old, young and everything in between. A photographic paradise that hugs the soft twinkle of the river beside.
Word in the park was that there were lots of Trolls on the River-walk, so Bryn was really on her hunting game. She stripped down to her naturalness to wade through the water and came upon a Troll party at the river’s edge. We met a few families, in this bay of sorts, with young children as well. It wasn’t just the cool waters that were refreshing. Meeting like- minded parents who allow their kids to explore and make the world their playground reminded us of why we were there. The ability unplug, and take in the world uninterrupted by technology or culture, is a gift we wish to give our daughter. To use the natural beauty as the perfect canvas to paint with imagination and create a Troll Haven inside God’s glorious creations.
We made it to the entrance of the Narrows, which allowed us to test our water socks. It was mid-afternoon, the busiest time of day in the Narrows, and it was obvious. We let the cold water soothe our sore legs, the rocks served as a reflexology massage, while working together to stay upright. Watching Bryn overcome frustrations, gain confidence and trust made the slippery jaunt worth the walk.
The final day of our short family getaway, led us to the Emerald Pools, the perfect vantage point to say our goodbyes to this incredible place.
Starting at the Grotto Trail-head, we made our way up to the Emerald Pools, which offered the most variety we had seen all week. It is a doable hike for little ones. There are many rock caves, some pixie-like waterfalls, and sweeping panoramic views.
The Pools, themselves, are worth the hike, but the perspective was really the takeaway. We are so tiny by comparison! So much had to happen for a canyon like this to be formed. Years of erosion, weather, and natures wrath have fortified this remarkable place. We are but little ants investigating its magnificence.
To stand on the cliff sides, and look around is a stark reminder that there is so much beauty in the world. From the craggy rocks to the gentle coo of the river, to the emanating howl of a wild child, to the sweet older couple on the shuttle who takes the time to make moments for our little one from ordinary to extra…
Zion will beat in our hearts for years to come. It was then that we cracked open the journey into some of our nation’s most amazing wonders, as well as taught us how little we need, besides each other. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head out for your own Zion vacation.