Believe it or not, the 2018 season is officially here. With snow receding from the Pine Valley peaks and desert wildflowers making their way up through the desert low lands, millions of visitors from around the world will soon begin their pilgrimage to one of the most beautiful places on Earth (...we're a little bias), Zion National Park.
With the beginning of a new season comes the opportunity for our staff to find new ways to learn, grow, explore, relate, and reconnect. These are the foundational principals of Zion Adventure Company, and have been since it's beginning in 1996.
Inspired by The Dirtbag Diaries yearly post "The Year of Big Ideas," we wanted to reach out to a few of our staff members to see what goals they have for the season ahead.
Jennifer Fitzwater, beginning her second season as a Guide/Outfitter, explores the theme of "trust" for her year ahead.
This year, however, the passing of 2017 gave way to a 2018 void of resolutions. I had no grand ideas or sweeping plans. But as 2018 has begun to amble along, a smaller, more subtle goal has crept into my mind. I would love to learn to trust myself more. I've been trying to track the origins of this idea and it seems that they are rooted in my recent experiences in the outdoors.
I am lucky enough to live in a place that affords me nearly unlimited options for adventuring. I moved to Southwest Utah from Ohio about a year ago and in that time I have started canyoneering, mountain biking, and climbing. All three of these sports require a degree of trust I have not encountered before. I have to trust that I can stay singly focused on the path ahead and the upcoming obstacles when I'm mountain biking. I need to trust my rope work in a canyon and my efficacy in teaching to get everyone safely through. I am learning to trust the strength of my mind and body while climbing as I slowly understand that I am capable of a lot more than I ever let myself believe before.
At times, this seems like an insignificant task. "Trust yourself more," I think, "Sure. Yea. Duh!" But then I start to remember all the self-limiting stories I have ever told myself. You're not strong enough to do that. You're gonna hurt yourself. You'll fall. You'll fail. So this year I am resolved to find that voice inside of me who tells those stories and lead her by the hand into adventures that scare me, that test me, that actively challenge those self-limiting beliefs until those stories are no longer the front page of my internal monologue. Maybe by this time next year, those stories will read as trust. You've got this. You're strong enough. Yea, you're gonna fall and that's okay."
Learning to trust is something we all go through in our lives, whether that be in our personal goals or professional careers. Looking forward to seeing Jen find her voice in 2018!
Next up we have Hayley Walker, a member of the ZAC Admin. staff entering her sixth season in Zion. Hayley muses with an idea that everyone in the outdoors has fought with at one point in time or another...commitment.
While the whole surgery thing and being stuck in a sling for 3 months likely prevents me from attempting this pursuit this spring, it is certainly something I can start working towards even-while recovering from surgery. During a recent, one armed speed hike up to Observation Point, I started to seriously consider the logistics and viability of this objective and found myself excited about having a goal to work towards. Injury, as many of you know, can be not only physically challenging but mentally difficult too. For someone whose identity and contentment with the world relies heavily on physical activity and getting out into the outdoors, this might just be the goal I need to keep me motivated while I continue on the path to full recovery.
The real question will be how committed I am once I do recover and no longer have the excuse of shoulder surgery to fall back on. Many excuses in the past when I’ve considered the Trans-Zion in a day range from: it’s too hot to train, I haven’t trained enough, it’s going to be miserably hard or the classic, what if I completely fail and can’t finish? I think I’m ok with failing and I don’t want the reason for why I don’t attempt it to be a fear of not finishing it. I’d rather go for it and see what happens, no pressure just a satisfaction in trying. The simple act of accepting possible failure this early on already makes it feel more attainable in that I’ve taken the pressure off of it.
My hope is that my excitement for a grueling day of running and speed hiking over challenging terrain for hours and hours on end doesn’t wane but instead grows as I continue to heal. The Trans-Zion in a day may simply be a product of my deep desire and need to get back out there adventuring and getting after it, but for now I’m going to roll with it. If it gets me inspired and motivated to focus on my healing then I will fully embrace it. If, when I am fully healed, I decide I’m crazy and wonder why I ever thought the Trans-Zion in a day was a remotely desirable idea, at least I’ll know the idea of it got me through a tough time of healing and recovering. Who knows, maybe a future post will be about all of the excuses I came up with for why not to do it, or maybe, just maybe, it will be about my epic first attempt at the Trans-Zion in a day."
Commitment in the moment is difficult, wether it be sticking the crux of that boulder problem that you just can't seem to piece together or sitting on your bike at the top of a double black-diamond second guessing yourself, you have a split second to make choices that decide if you fail or succeed. Commitment to goals long into the future on the other hand, is even more painstaking. Training, diet, patience. You need all of these for an extended period of time, and even then it may not be enough, but if you're willing to put in the work, it's always worth it in the end.
Here's to wishing Hayley a speedy recovery from shoulder surgery and a future post detailing her successful single day Trans-Zion hike!
In my time at ZAC, I've tried many new things. My second week here I let my fancy for a member of the opposite sex naively drag me into an R rated technical canyon, when I hadn't really ever been canyoneering before. I've been completely terrified while being drug up multi-pitch desert towers, and definitely looked like a Jerry my first time on skis. Being completely green at any outdoor activity tends to have a fun yet awkward beginning...at least for me.
I'm probably too much of a wimp to ever be a good climber, and while I enjoy Canyoneering, it's something you just can't go do whenever you want, especially alone. Ah, but there is one discipline that's easy to get into, I had a background in, and was just barely affordable: Mountain Biking. Two years ago I pinched my pennies and got myself my first real full-suspension mountain bike. Since that moment, I've spent countless hours peddling trails all around the western U.S.. This year though, I'm planning to take my infatuation a step further. Endurance racing.
In January, I forked over $120 of my hard earned dough and entered the True Grit Epic, a 100 mile endurance mountain bike race in St. George, Utah (...I'm only doing the 50. What? Did you think I was a masochist?). Training has been how training goes when you're young, poor, and really like pizza. I've never spent so much time on a bike, and while my hamstrings feel like jelly most mornings, I love it. While the race date is March 10th, I hope to use this as a springboard to more unknown bike related escapades throughout the year, such as bikepacking the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands and bikerafting in the San Rafael Swell. Here's to more future posts detailing the pure sufferfest known as long distance bike related activities!
We here at Zion Adventure Company hope that the 2018 season brings you a healthy year full of adventure and stoke. Wether you're learning to trust yourself in new ways or committing to that one outdoor goal that's avoided you, we'll be here to share with you some of the amazing adventures we find ourselves in.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below with some of your personal outdoor goals for the 2018 season, or if you're looking for suggestions!