Jesse Murch

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Antelope Canyon & Horse Shoe Bend - " i want to do this forever "

Nothing but sand around for miles, a small hut cracked the repetition, the hut surrounded by old pickups converted into covered people haulers. Pulling into the lot you are greeted by a native, all the land the canyon resides in is Navajo owned and is ran and patrolled by the native people, The lady was friendly and gave us directions of where to park and handed us or tickets for the excursion. We met our guide for the day whom told us to call him Bear, he was a big man with strong features and a welcoming smile. We climbed into the back of the truck bed where benches bolted down awaited us, Bear took the front and proceeded to drive us to the canyon entrance. The ride out was bumpy and the sand soft due to the constant flooding in the winter months, we passed cattle grazing on the little vegetation and water to be found. We rounded a bend and there before us was the entrance to the canyon, a slice down the one hundred and thirty foot mountain, the opening was something out of an indian jones movie, barely wide enough for three of us to walk through at once, as we entered the canyon revealed her beauty and size to us, the main chamber was wide enough to fit the ten person group with ease, the light cascading down the walls and painting them with violent reds and oranges. The sandstone was smooth to the touch, and with each touch you could feel the history around you. The canyons once used for natives hiding from westerners trying to enslave them has been used by the navajo for years prior to opening for tours. As we made our way through the canyon the temperature drastically dropped to the point of being chilly, the sun further drowning out and less making its way to the cave floors. Bear pointed out the many naturally formed land marks on the walls with deep insight, he reminisced of the floods and how each year they leave there own signature on the canyon, and once even taking a group of tours as penance. During the flooding season it can be only a matter of seconds for the flood waters to reach twenty feet high. as we crept through the walls becoming increasingly narrow, the light was non existent at points forcing one to caress the walls to find his way. During the walk through i spoke with an elderly man about life, the road, and love, he spoke of being on the road with his wife for thousands of miles and how they still had many more to go, as he spoke his words sunk into me with deep meaning. He said that life is short and the greatest gift it has to offer is love and companionship, not to waste ones time doing something they don't love, and to find that one person you can't live without and travel together, see the world hand in hand because at the end of our own chapters those will be the stories we pass on, those will be the days we cherish and bring with us. As we continued to speak and walk the rest of the tour sped ahead to leave, we hit a small chamber in the canyon and our guide Bear brought out his native wood wind instrument and proceeded to play a native song that echoed across the swooping lines of the canyon walls, between this and the words from the wise old man i felt myself slip into a transcendent esq state and realize what i truly want out of life. What it was ill keep to myself as i believe words wouldn't do it justice nor should they, what you want out of life shouldn't be a description but more of a feeling and sense of mind. I believe we all have an opportunity to experience this moment and the ones that do and listen live a fulfilling life. Bear was complimented with applause and kind words all around upon finishing his short performance. We gathered our gear and proceeded back to the initial point of departure, in the parking lot we said our farewells to the kind individuals we met along the adventure and decided to head off to our last stop of the trip, Zion National Park. As we left Antelope Canyon and headed down the vacant desert roads we shortly started reading signs for Horseshoe Bend, the name immediately stood out in our minds and being that the signs said a short half mile hike and the sun still high in the sky we decided it well worth the detour. We parked in a dusty lot and proceeded down the marked and beaten path, As we walked you couldn't see anything aside from flat land and low lying shrubs, Within minuets we made our way to the end of the trail, in front of us were large flat rocks, we climbed up on top of them and before our eyes laid such a magnificent sight. We have all seen photos online of the bend but i can truly say that none of them due it justice, the scale of the bend is beyond words and photos, boats traversing the rivers 180 degree turn looked like miniature model toys, the waters a rich emerald in the late day sun, a perfect contrast to the red canyon walls that have been carved out over decades. We perched our selves out on the cliffs edge, rocks no bigger then a square foot, our feet swaying out with just the brisk air wrapping around them, a warm rush of adrenaline coursed through our veins, at that moment we were one with our surroundings and in a state of pure meditation. After we had our fill of cliffside relaxation and grabbed the photographs we wanted to achieve we climbed back off the cliff only to be treated by a fellow photographer, after speaking we learned he has been traveling around as well photographing the country and world, we exchanged social media information and parted ways. Pb&j's awaited us back at the van as a quick refuel before heading back out on the open road. We took highway 89 north west past the southern tip of lake Powell and through the grand staircase national preserve. We stopped along the road to photograph mountains with brilliant deep red and contrasting white stripes, the moon full and clear over top of them, the golden hour was setting in quickly as we reached an hour out of Zion. We slowly made our way through and suddenly found ourselves on top of the most gorgeous mountains we had scene. Zion National Park we had finally arrived.