Photo Gallery: 25th Birthday Hike in Zion

It’s hard to believe that the big 2-5 is the only birthday I’ll celebrate with my family in five years. I spent the last two birthdays in Chile and will be in Gambia for the next two.

I feel so lucky to have celebrated this milestone with my family in one of the world’s most beautiful places. My mom took me to Zion National Park for the weekend and we hiked to Angels Landing and Emerald Pools. I’ve been to Zion many times, but probably complained for every step of the hiking parts. It was great to explore more of such an amazing place right in my own backyard and actually enjoy it this time!

Angels Landing was quite a treacherous hike, but well worth the balancing act on the narrow ridge that teeters 1,500 feet above the valley. I’m not afraid of heights, but still found the trek quite exhilarating. Many people opted not to hike to the top lookout point. Chipmunks raced between our feet and even snatched a piece of our apple during our picnic lunch.

Emerald Pools was equally awe-inspiring and featured a rocky climb to a jade pool in the center of a towering canyon. My mom almost stepped on a snake by the river and her scream somehow didn’t scare away a baby deer with its mama.

We plan to hike the famous Narrows next month and I’m already planning a Zion backpacking trip post-Peace Corps. Who wants to come? :)

I have a feeling 25 is going to be a good year.

–JDF