Zion National Park was one of our first big adventures. The first time we hiked together. The first time we almost died together. Oh my gosh. We were so young and so dumb.

Our relationship was fairly new, sure we knew each other, but did we really?

We were staying one night at the park. We arrived in the early afternoon and would be leaving the following morning, so we took a quick look online to see what Zion National Park had to offer. We settled on a trip to Emerald Falls. They were fairly close to where we were staying and there was a place to shop for a new pair of shorts for Rick before we took off on our hike and there would be a place we could grab a bite to eat once our hike was through.

At first we were clicking along pretty good. The trail was amazing and fairly easy to navigate among the other visitors who had chosen to go to Emerald Falls that day. The scenery was amazing and just got more and more beautiful the higher we climbed.

The hike to the lower falls was an easy one, so we opted to keep going.

I kept glancing at Rick as we climbed, he seemed to be doing just fine, I felt like my chest was going to cave in from trying to breath. I was definitely out of shape.

Little by little we arrived at first the middle falls and then the upper falls. We were not disappointed, a bit dizzy, but not disappointed. A momma deer and her new fawn even paid us a visit while we were there.

It was truly magical being there, but the sun was falling fast, so after a short stay we made our way back down.

Once we arrived back at the base of the trail we collapsed onto the beautiful green lawn. Both thankful we had made the entire trip without actually dying from heat stroke, lack of water, and just pure out-of-shapeness.

As we began talking about our own personal experiences on the trail we both ended up confessing how much the hike took out of us. How out of shape we both were and how dizzy we had both been.

We realized then and there how important it is to really check in with each other, make sure we are each doing okay before hiking on and actually being unsafe. Now when we hike, we make sure we have plenty of water, we are also more in shape now than we have been in a long time and we make sure to communicate our limits.

After laying on the grass for quite some time we decided to head over to the restaurant nearby, Zion Brewery where we started with a pretzel and beer cheese….oh so good!!!! From there I happened to have the best grilled cheese sandwich I’d ever had, it might have been the best meal I have ever had. I know I was just thankful I was no longer hiking up the mountain, but instead was enjoying looking at where we had been while we enjoyed our well-deserved dinner of grilled cheese and French fries.

Rick opted for a heartier meal of Buffalo Meatloaf. From the looks of his clean plate after dinner was over I would have to say he thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III, the 19th National Park Service Director. He was ceremonially sworn in as the 19th director of the National Park Service on Dec. 16, 2021, by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

While he was not the director when we visited Zion in 2018, he is now the director and I know he is doing amazing things to make Oregon proud.

Chuck Sams III National Park Service Director

Sams is Cayuse and Walla Walla and is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Northeast Oregon, where he grew up. He also has blood ties to the Cocopah Tribe and Yankton Sioux of Fort Peck.

I also grew up in Northeast Oregon and I could not be more proud that this NE Oregonian plays such a critical role in our USA Government. I can hardly wait to meet him and shake his hand someday. I’ll keep you posted when that encounter happens.

A short video of our trip through Arches National Park in Utah.


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