Observations and Thoughts While Hiking Zion National Park’s Observation Point Trail

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This pic was taken toward the beginning of the hike, when I stopped to eat my pb&j sandwich. You find the trailhead for the Observation Point Trail at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.

One of the good things about where I live is that one of the most amazing national parks is pretty much in my backyard. Just a quick forty minute drive or so to the Visitor Center where on weekends through the end of November, they are running a shuttle service through the scenic road of the park. Yesterday, I felt like challenging myself so I set out to do the Observation Point Trail, which is described by Zionnational-park.com as “[t]he path is steep and gains elevation quickly, making it one of the most strenuous of the classic hikes in the park. If you have poor fitting shoes it can be quite painful on your toes on the return hike.” (I found the description to be accurate, btw.)

I did the famous Angels Landing Hike a few weeks back (yes, I’ll write a post about it too!) and this seemed more strenuous overall. Maybe because it just kept going on and on and on. I laughed to myself when I thought, a few weeks back, that maybe I would do the Observation Point Trail before sunrise. Um, no. That would have been insane, I realize now. The terrain is not always even and I would have been worried about slipping and hurting myself on it, even with a headlamp. That early in the morning, I suspect I might have had the trail (nearly) all to myself.

A view of Zion you might not see if you weren't on a trail. I love seeing the sun shine on the park like this. Reminds me that this world is about more than just myself. Something amazing is at work.

A view of Zion you might not see if you weren’t on a trail. I love seeing the sun shine on the park like this. Reminds me that this world is about more than just myself. Something amazing is at work.

The shot directly above shows you some of the heights you can climb to on this trail. These trails are helping me get over my fear of heights. It occurred to me more than a few times that day that I’ve definitely been pushing my boundaries these past few months, in so many ways. I don’t think I could have done this trail even a few years ago. I would have been too chicken.

I took this pic on my return back, so the lighting reflects that it was between 4:30 and 5 p.m. that day. Definitely a view that you would only see if on a trail at the park.

I took this pic on my return back, so the lighting reflects that it was between 4:30 and 5 p.m. that day. Definitely a view that you would only see if on a trail at the park.

Looking at some of these pictures, I feel blessed to be so close to such an amazing park and to be able to see these views anytime I want, rather than having to plan for about a year in advance. It’s just a bit over a half hour drive away. How lucky am I?

As you climb higher on this trail, you see the colors of the rock change from a more reddish hue to white. I believe this means the white rock has less iron content in it. I just love seeing how trees seem to be able to grow in the toughest of terrains with a water source not easily found nearby. The root systems must be massive.

As you climb higher on this trail, you see the colors of the rock change from a more reddish hue to white. I believe this means the white rock has less iron content in it. I just love seeing how trees seem to be able to grow in the toughest of terrains with a water source not easily found nearby. The root systems must be massive.

This gives you an idea of how high the trail goes within the park. We are definitely higher at this point than you are at the top of Angels Landing.

This gives you an idea of how high the trail goes within the park. We are definitely higher at this point than you are at the top of Angels Landing.

As I was climbing the trail, I passed a lot of people on my way up, but very few on my way down. In fact, one couple was heading up as I was coming down, and asked, with a hopeful look in their eyes, if they were close to the end. I hated to tell them that I had already been walking downward for about an  hour (with a few stops for photos, of course.) I advised them that if they did make the top, they would likely be coming downward in the dark, so they should consider that. I didn’t see them carrying any flashlights or headlamps, so I hope they turned around before the summit of the trail.

All of this alone time was good and bad. I like my solitude, but I also don’t like when my thoughts are loud and confused. I kept wondering, am I doing the right thing by trying to wean off of the Prozac? And is now the good time to do it with the cold weather and darker days rapidly approaching? Should I just give up altogether on the dating thing and just focus on myself? (Yep, look for a post on that to be forthcoming.) Am I just suffering from culture shock lately and that’s why I am starting to think of what life would be like if I decided to go nomadic at one point? (Yep, look for a separate post on that to be forthcoming, also.) Why did I buy such a large RV – and will I be able to afford to heat it during the winter? Are the cats and the dog safe inside the RV right now with the space heater going?  Can I really afford to make a go of things on this salary or am I just kidding myself? (Then, the answering thought of “yes, you can, you just need to be careful with your spending and only focus on what really matters and is needed. If you’re new to the blog, read this post or this one.) Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go on these hikes with someone once in a while?

And lastly, are all these thoughts running through my mind because of the fact that I’ve decreased the prozac dosage or is this normal??

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This photo was taken on my return trip. I was just amazed at the types and variety of trees, shrubs and cacti on this 8-mile round trip hike.

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This was one of my favorite views on the hike. IMHO, it was even better than the view from the top.

When my thoughts kept coming over and over, I tried to tell myself to live more presently in the now. All these thoughts, coming all at the same time, can be and were overwhelming. I realized that they were taking away from my joy of what I was doing at that present moment. I tried to remember some of my coping skills my therapist taught me back east, part of which was through cognitive behavioral therapy. I tried to think of why these thoughts were coming to my mind, and what were the feelings behind them pushing them to the forefront? What feelings were causing them?

It doesn’t always work, but lately, when my concerns and obsessions over things (such as money and do I have enough of it to create this new life I’m leading), I try to force myself to be more in the present moment. Worrying about the future doesn’t help the now.  Thinking about mistakes made in the past or regretting decisions made in the past doesn’t help the now.  One of my favorite YouTube channels is Exploring Alternatives. They had a great interview done of them by Kirsten Dirksen of the  FairCompanies channel. They have a great line in the interview where Mat says “the future doesn’t exist. But we’re here now.” And it’s these words I try to come back to as often as possible.

What kind of coping skills do you use when your thoughts get away from you? What are some beautiful hikes you have been on?

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16 thoughts on “Observations and Thoughts While Hiking Zion National Park’s Observation Point Trail

  1. Terri,

    I love this post. It’s a good mixture of beautiful scenery and interesting, and thoughtful insight into your thinking. You are always so honest when revealing your feelings and thoughts.

    I think your feelings are normal with what you’re going through in your life. I don’t think your withdrawal from Prozac is causing the thoughts. (Just my opinion. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV.)

    Your pictures are great. Like you, hiking is one of my favorite things to do. I mainly hike in the Appalachian Mountains. I love hiking to waterfalls. My hikes are usually shorter than your 8-mile hike.

    Hiking is an excellent time to free your mind and think about things. Let your thoughts flow and don’t worry.

    • Jerry, thank you for saying that. It’s interesting – toward the beginning of the hike, I was thinking I should go back up to the 30 mg with my prozac and toward the end of the hike, I thought to myself, I can do this. Hell, I just did this 8 mile hike! And yes, being out here, I love hiking. I would go to Zion every weekend if I could, and probably have been going every other week for a while now. I think the hikes will always be different given the change of seasons and I still have several trails to do. But my guess is that that 8 mile hike might be one of my longest ones! I was tired at the end of the day but it was such a great feeling.

      P.S. I’ll be making the updates to my site with Helpful Resources this weekend and also want to get those reviews up on Amazon too. 🙂

  2. I’ll go hiking with you!!! 🙂 And, I also try to focus on the NOW when I start to feel like I’m losing it. I think that keeping that perspective — that 1.) we can’t change the past 2.) we shouldn’t focus on the future 3.) this too shall pass.

    It doesn’t hurt to find a new place to explore 🙂 I think we’re on the right track here.

    • I’d love to hike with you Jill! I will message you my cell number. 🙂 And yes, just hearing you talk the other morning at the gym made me feel so much better, and so much less alone. (Sorry I overslept and missed the gym this morning.)

    • You’re welcome, Jim! I’ve been inspired to do so by reading more of Becky’s blog and her hiking posts. Glad you liked them! And yes, Utah is pretty beautiful, that’s for sure.

  3. Thinking about the future, and your place in it, is probably universal, no matter your other circumstances, especially when your free time is spent mostly by yourself. You have your brain for company, and it tries to keep you occupied by bringing up topics for you to think about! ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    • Judie, I like that explanation – that my brain is trying to keep me company – what a pain in the ass it is some days, though, huh?? LOL Thank you for helping me to feel more normal about my thoughts!

  4. Glad you packed a lunch for the hike, when I did the Observation hike, I picked it out from the trail head and didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I also hiked back down in record time because I was so hungry, I didn’t pack a lunch for the 6-7 hour ordeal =) I hope you chronicle more of your hikes and adventures around Utah and Arizona.

    I had a lot of solitude while camping this summer, I’m a solo traveler so I can go days without conversing with people. Sometimes my thoughts are negative in nature like wanting to go home because the weather sucks or the destination wasn’t as great as everyone made it out to be, etc. I just remind myself that my peers are out there slaving away behind a computer or cleaning up bunny poop =)

    You have a roof over your head, a stable/cool job and enough food in the fridge to eat. Suck it up buttercups =P

    • Hey Ramen! A guy came through volunteering today and he reminded me of you for so many reasons. He’s actually been traveling around in his car, which is a Mazda3! So I was telling him about you and all the places you had gone. And yep, I thought of you after that hike – I definitely knew I needed to take a snack, or two, or three….I can’t imagine having done that without even water. I sweated like a farm animal!

      And yes, I do know my life is good but I still appreciate being told to suck it up, lol. I’ve had your voice in my head more than a few times the last few days. 🙂

  5. HiTerri

    I loved being on the trail with you on this post. You illustrate well the dilemma we all find ourselves in of worrying and stressing about the past and the future as the detriment of living and being in the present. I think you are doing a tremendous job weaning yourself off the Prozac. And remember you’re doing this for a very important reason. You’re this for you 🙂

    • Sheree, thank you so much for commenting. Yes, I realize now more and more how I take myself out of the present, thinking about the future. I know why I did that before, because I wanted to start my new life so soon. But now I’m in that new life and I’m not helping myself to take myself out of that. Thank you very much for the encouragement about weaning off of Prozac. I’m probably coming off of it faster than my doc would even want me to (5 weeks for a half life of a dosage measurement) but I’m watching myself carefully while doing so.

  6. Thanks Terri for including the gorgeous photos in another great post! The thing that struck me about the questions you’re exploring is that the answers are within you and will emerge through time and lived experience: nobody else can tell you what to do, but you’ll know. I’m about 10 weeks into my transition to the Midwest, and have some similar questions. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong; it means without the old structure, and with different resources at hand, living on autopilot isn’t an option. It’s necessary to work things through, and decide what feels right and where adjustments are needed.

    It would be great to get out to Utah one day. I think I’ve only seen what is visible from the Salt Lake City airport.

    • That is a great way of putting it, David. Living on autopilot isn’t an option. Because, honestly, I’m not sure what autopilot would even look like these days, too. I’m so glad I’m not alone in going through all these thoughts.

      And yes, I would love to have you here for a visit! I miss your companionship and friendship being near by. {hugs}

  7. I hope you are doing well. It is normal to question our future especially if we feel and or believe there is stuff still up in the air. One day at a time 🙂 By the way, I am very good at giving advice and not taking it Lol.

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