Nine years ago, I was a 26-year-old taking my first international trip. I had met a Minneapolis schoolteacher who would take school supplies to a fledgling primary school in Antigua, Guatemala in Central America.
Aided by the connections she had in that city, I visited this historic city over the 2007-2008 New Year. I wasn’t the only outsider there. I discovered the network of fellow travelers and backpackers dotting the world’s destinations. I’d ring in the 2008 New Year with these adventurers.
One of these was a fellow American Vanessa (right), and through the connectivity of modern technology, we’ve been in touch ever since.
Both of us have continued to explore the planet, and today Vanessa shares her latest exploration: Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Nature may not be at the top of the list of things you imagine when hearing “Utah,” but it at to be at least near the top. Their five national parks, known as “The Mighty Five,” offer landscapes you won’t see anywhere else.
The first time I visited Bryce Canyon National Park was in October 2013 on a sunny afternoon. The prominent hoodoo formations (a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland) carved by the elements in the canyon hooked me in. Unfortunately my experience with Bryce was very brief that time.
I vowed to come back for some proper trekking.
Shortly after that first trip to Bryce, I came across an article about the best National Parks to visit during winter. The photos of Bryce’s whimsical white winter melted my soul. I had never seen anything like it. The hoodoos reminded me of orange cupcakes covered with creamy frosting.
Fast forward to January 2017 – I now live in Las Vegas, only a four-hour drive to Bryce. I couldn’t wait another winter to see those whimsical frosted hoodoos. After checking the weather forecast for a snowstorm-free weekend, I finally made that four-hour drive from Vegas to Bryce.
My favorite part of traveling is meeting people from different places of the world. The scenery is secondary. Because I usually travel alone, I depend on the kindness of strangers to take my photo. What I love about this photo (left) is that it shows how up close and personal people can get to the hoodoos.
No words or images can convey the powerful beauty of Bryce’s wintry aura. I have traveled to many amazing places around the world, and so I was shocked how one of the most beautiful places can be so near me. What a precious opportunity not to be taken for granted!
All those numerous hoodoos remind me of the countless sentient beings who have lived, who are now living, and those who will come to life. The annual snow causes erosion, which gives the hoodoos their quirky shape. But as centuries will pass, some of these hoodoos will disappear while others will begin to form.
People are my favorite photo props. Two friendly German travelers (right) ascended the snowy switchbacks toward the end of the looping trail. I find sudden elevation gains analogous to obstacles in life. Once conquered and solved, life becomes easier to navigate, especially when we encounter those challenges again.
Once again I depend on the kindness of a stranger to take my photo. The interdependence among the snow, sandstone, and pine trees create a harmonious backdrop for everyone to share. Just like these elements, we too are interdependent on other human beings. If it weren’t for the generous hard earned money of the American people and preservation efforts, Bryce wouldn’t be as easily accessible to the public. Without the kindness of the park’s rangers, visitors wouldn’t know exactly where to find the base on the hoodoos. If it weren’t for the drivers of the plow trucks, I may not have gotten here safely.
Endless gratitude from me to all these people who made my white winter in Bryce Canyon possible.
Vanessa: traveler, lover of all things living, practicing the emptiness of inherent existence. If you any questions comments for her or the article, please share below. And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.