It all began in Vegas with a shattered phone and half a day until kick-off. I had only just arrived to the hotel when my phone hit the ground and went black. Panic arose as I realized I possibly would have to set out on a trek for five days without means of contact. Thus, I strapped on my shoes, bought a bottle of water and began walking towards town – hoping I would find a phone repair shop without any means of figuring out whether there would be one. The receptionists did not know where there would be one either.
It was just as well that I did not have a map; I would have lost my way if I did. Instead, I found the strip with the buildings rising the closer I got thanks to a very complicated method of walking straight ahead. The strip was a welcoming sight after wandering meters after meters with the warm desert sun burning at the back of my neck. My first stop became Planet Hollywood (Which I believe is some kind of a mall). Only the restaurant area with its painted 3D ceiling made me stop, mouth open and eyes wide. I actually thought I was outside for a bit. When I really stepped outside, I had yet no luck in finding a shop and found myself in the centre of lively Las Vegas. France and Italy stood tall to my right while incredible fountains sprouted up to my left. Suddenly I was in Greece – or Rome, who knows. Go to Caesar’s Palace, they said. They’ll have an Apple Store, they said. They did and they amazingly fixed my phone. I also bought it a bulletproof glass considering I had only fixed it once already the day before. Finally, I could take in and appreciate the amazing architecture around me: Marble statues, painted ceilings and dozen “pling, pling” of the casinos – I was in awe.
What was my impression of Las Vegas? For someone who have despised Las Vegas for everything it is and stand for, I’m more than happy to swallow my pride and say I’m a converted. I still don’t agree with a lot of the stuff happening in Las Vegas – gambling for one – but I have to admit the city is impressive, alluring and addictive in itself. I didn’t have time to check out anything else, apart from walking through a couple casino’s to find a taxi rank (damn, the city made me miss Uber) and drive through New York and Egypt on my way back to the hotel. As I dived into bed, noticing a new roommate and fellow trekker already sound asleep in her own bed, I knew that Las Vegas is a place I wouldn’t mind returning to. With my drinking buddies. Ready to create mayhem.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
Our Trekamerica group, consisting of eight people including our guide, headed off towards Zion National Park early in the morning. For years I had dreamt about driving the dusty roads of America, seeing different landscapes change as one cross over from one continent to the other. Now, I was doing it. It was incredible and made even better by the chemistry and enthusiasm level in our little tour van. We sang, we watched and we talked. Obviously, a camera or two were flashing now and then. We went from Nevada, through a corner of Arizona and ended up in Utah. Zion National Park towered over us a couple hours later; ragged mountain walls rose towards the sky with green habitat squeezed into every other nook and cranny.
We began ascending the trail for Angel’s Landing almost immediately as we arrived – except a couple toilet visits and me hanging a padlock on the dream-padlock-catcher. The sun was high up on the sky and burned way more than it needed to. If my memory is not completely off the bend, we were supposed to spend 3-4 hours on getting to Angel’s Landing (up and down), but I think we all wondered when it would end after just one. Not that we could complain on the scenery. Zion is something else – but I won’t tell you how special because everyone did that to me and I ended up, well, underwhelmed, I guess. Or just sun-blinded. It really was the scorching heat that prevented some of us from reaching Scouts Landing and most of us from reaching Angel’s Landing. I was 5-10 minutes from the top, on a one person narrow rocky climb with no fence, when my head went cold and my balance flew out the window – or shall we say over the cliff? Either way I almost went down with it, but managed to hunch down and grab some rocks at the last minute. A drop of 400m something has never looked less inviting. After that, I only crawled a couple more minutes until I came to a landing suitable to stop at. Still, it was a pretty magnificent view.
Today’s Interesting Note:
It has to be said, Zion is not a place you visit for a day and if you do you better accept that you will have to come back to see more. It is simply to vast and too beautiful to do in one day if you also want to sit down and enjoy it. However, our trip took us away from Zion and onwards to Bryce Canyon. I won’t spoil too much before the next article, but I will let you know that the sight meeting us as we crossed Bryce’s border took our breaths away.