Going SOLO YOLO DOLO | Oct 5th - 7th
About a year ago, I took a solo trip out to Utah. When I told friends that I was about to venture forth alone to Utah, almost all of them referenced the movie, 127 hours, and said that I was crazy. Regardless, I went and ended having an amazing time.
I got to see some rad things, like:
- the Subway in Zion(https://instagram.com/p/ues-vFOk15/?taken-by=shldrss)
- a bunch of arches around Moab (https://instagram.com/p/ulCYveOk7M/?taken-by=shldrss)
What was great about traveling solo was that I got to set my own schedule. Sure there were other factors that could throw off my scheduling, like car troubles and having to take breaks on the drive, but, by God's grace, I never had to deal with that. So, out in Utah, I got to see and do whatever I wanted, without having to adjust my schedule for others.
Another great thing about this trip (and traveling solo) was that I got to meet some awesome hikers and photographers, many of whom I still stay in touch with. Traveling solo kind of pushes you to socialize and to talk to people, and it's really not that hard to make friends on the trail because almost all of the people out there are the nicest people ever.
One of them was a couple who had just finished the PCT that year. (Check out their PCT story here : joshcarla.blogspost.com.)
I bring up that trip from last year because last week, I made another solo travel out to Colorado. I've been in a transition period in my life, and with winter slowly approaching, I knew this was a good opportunity to go out and to just have time to reflect.
Below is just a quick summary of my trip out to Colorado; Aspen, to be more specific. But, yeah, I just wanted to share my perspective on traveling solo. If you, or anyone you know, has an urge to just go out, you guys totally should! Sure, there's always concerns about stuff that can go wrong, but I don't think that should ever hold back someone from traveling. Out there, alone, you can really learn more about yourself and enjoy nature, differently. I never missed a sunrise and sunset, and during those moments, I got to appreciate those moments and reflect on things.
So thanks for reading through this and going through my video/photos!
Monday: I drove through some downpour in Vegas and was greeted by thunder at the entrance of Zion. It was kind of fun to experience all this weather; it was a nice change of scenery, for someone from SoCal. Anyways, my original plan wasn't really to stay the night in Zion, but after chasing some fog, it had gotten too late for me to drive out to Moab. And I hadn't had dinner yet, either. I felt pretty unhappy at myself because, at the park's entrance, I was informed that all campsites were taken, but I stopped by the Watchman Campground found out there were 4 unclaimed spots! I quickly made camp and boiled up a can of ravioli by, the one and only, Chef Boyardee and got some much needed rest.
Tuesday: My plan for this morning was to wake up early to see if there would be more fog. Unfortunately, the park was clear, so no fog(boo), but this meant I could get an early drive out East(yay). I quickly broke down camp, munched on a pop-tart and drove out.
One thing that I absolutely love doing in Zion is driving through the east entrance of Zion, especially around sunrise time. This is because there's a lot of wildlife at this side of the park, because right outside, there's just pastures upon pastures for deers, turkeys and even buffalos to roam through. And that morning, I got to see some turkeys crossing the road.
On the drive to Colorado, I was about to pass by Bryce. I wasn't really planning on stopping by, but when I saw some fog/clouds rolling through, I decided to just stop by real quick. And it did turn out to be a real quick stop because there were no fog rolling through the hoodoo's, but it was amazing to see those unique rock formations again.
By 6PM, I had finally made it to Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado, which meant that I had just driven the furthest that I have ever been. As I was approaching Maroon Bells, the weather seemed pretty clear, but by the time I got to the parking lot, the clouds quickly moved in and had started to downpour. Then came the thunder. And hail decided to join in on the party.
One thing about the weather in Colorado, from my short experience there, is that weather changes...pretty rapidly. What I mean by that is, after it hailed for maybe half an hour(?), it kind of cleared up again and the clouds gave some color, as it soaked up the last light of the day.
Wednesday: Maroon Bells sits at about 9,580 ft. I knew it was going to be a cold night, especially since it hailed the other day, but when I woke up, I found my tent and sleeping pad drenched, which made it a miserable morning. Oh, did I also mention that a layer of ice had formed on my car? So, now annoyed, I had my car running to warm it up.
After finally warming up the car, I made it ou to the lake. It was still cold out....so cold that I had a hard time talking to people...I would try to talk, but because my face was so cold, the facial muscles just didn't move as fast as I wanted to speak, so I was slurring all my words. Embarrassing. Anyways after taking some photos, I just hiked up to Crater Lake and decided that I had seen all that I could of Maroon Bells.
By noon, I started driving towards Moab. I knew there, the humidity was pretty low and that the moon formation was pretty small, (I forgot the official term for that formation...) which meant ideal conditions for trying to photograph the stars.
I entered Arches National Park around 7PM, and got to the trailhead for Delicate Arch. If you haven't been to Delicate Arch, I wouldn't recommend coming here during the night...most of the trail is unmarked and people have to retrace their steps all the time. I was pretty confident in hiking it because it was my 3rd time there. I did have about 2 moments when I really had to survey the terrain, but I safely made it to Delicate Arch.
At Delicate Arch, I found that I wasn't alone, which was a relief because it's kind of reassuring to know that you're not the only one there. I ended up befriended one of the photographers there, who introduced himself as Samuel. Samuel was vacationing from Spain, and he had already been shooting the stars, before I got there. He had noticed that I was trying to shoot without a tripod, so he reluctantly lent me his sturdy tripod. I really felt bad for borrowing it, but he explained that he was letting his sensor cool off, so we were all good. I really owe it to him for letting me use his tripod because I was able to get some awesome shots of the milky way, even with Delicate Arch in it.
When we weren't busy taking photos, we discussed traveling and our own travels. He talked about how in Spain/Europe, it's typical to get about 2 months off from work, to vacation. And he shared how he didn't understand how Americans were okay with just getting about 2 weeks off from work. What really got my attention, from our conversation, came when he talked about how much he loved the National Parks in America. He loved how you could go from the oceans, to the desert, then to the mountains. He didn't like that you had to get a permit for a lot of the cool stuff, but, still, he adored the parks. To elaborate on how much he adored the parks, this was already his 4th time traveling through America. And for this trip, his plan was to go from LA - Vegas - Utah - Grand Teton/Yellowstone - Yosemite - then make his way back to LA.
He, also, shared his love for fast food, especially In-n-out. He also thought that it was great how "wee-fee"(WIFI) was usually free in these fast food places, because they're not that available in Spain or Europe.
Samuel was one of the many Europeans that I met that week in the National Parks. And when I look back on it, there were a lot more Europeans, or just non-Americans, that were coming out of their way to explore these parks. I could be, and am probably wrong, but I do think Americans have gotten spoiled with the nature that we have. Most of us are only a couple hours away from a National Park, but we rarely visit. Whereas, there are these Europeans, who plan huge trips to come to America, just to see these national parks. And it's just awesome to see how amazed they are when they enter these parks.
If you've read all of this, thanks so much! I hope this, somewhat, encourages you to make your next trip destination to be a National Park!