Human beings have been chasing the Dream of adventure for thousands of years. From travelling across continents to the discovery of vast new landscapes in North America. It’s here in America that adventure seekers and explorers have been called to the west. To the dream of new adventures and picturesque landscapes at every turn. This sense of adventure was fueled largely in the 1800’s when the United States government offered land to settlers at 12.5 cents per acre. Since then the west has called those with adventurous hearts and those longing to take in the sights of mother nature.
I am ready to add my name to the list of those who have ventured west.
My parents have lived in Phoenix for a couple years now and I have slowly fallen in love with the landscapes of the desert. This happened especially when I went to the Grand Canyon for the very first time in April of 2015. On the way to the Grand Canyon we drove the switchbacks through the Tonto National Forest and made a stop in Sedona, Arizona. Having never seen red sandstone before, I was mesmerized by everything that I was taking in. Sedona paled in comparison to my first trip to the Grand Canyon.
I remember taking my first steps out to see the landscape of the Grand Canyon, just being floored by the beauty that existed in my parent’s backyard (and by backyard, I mean a minimum four-hour drive.) This specific trip was taken without my DSLR camera, as I was making a quick turnaround to return to my job working at a summer camp. I vowed in that moment to return to the Grand Canyon with my DSLR, so I could take a “proper photo.” To my surprise I have since returned twice more, and plan on returning!
Fast forward to March of 2017 during my “spring break” from seminary (not really a break when you still have two papers to write) I took the opportunity to head out to Arizona. I had been out to see my parents just two-and-a-half months prior as my father had been in ICU and I needed to be there for my family. Once March had rolled around my father was doing better, and while I had originally planned to visit friends in Colorado, I took my reward miles from a trip to Israel and Palestine to hop on a plane back to Phoenix. The plan was to spend a few days with my parents and then head north to Sedona and the Grand Canyon to do some hiking.
And hike I did! While I was in Sedona, Arizona I hiked around 35 miles over the course of two days and loved every single second. As a “newbie hiker” I wasn’t as experienced as some folks on the trails, but that didn’t change my enthusiasm in any way. This is where the dream of the west and the vision of a future journey started to form. I was hiking trails among the red sandstone of Sedona and rejuvenating myself in the great outdoors. I remember while I was hiking Soldiers Pass Trail I met a family from Tennessee, some of the nicest people I had the pleasure of meeting in public. As an introvert, making friends on the trail carried some sense of anxiety and anticipation, but the trails seem to take that fear and leave it in the dust as you walk. Greyson (pictured above in the pink shorts) is even the one that offered to take the photo that is now the main header image for this website!
The dream of adventure and exploring all the west has to offer was born in the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.
The fire that ignited a journey happened 1,600 ft below the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Following two days hiking and exploring Sedona, Arizona I ventured north to visit the Grand Canyon, this time with my DSLR in hand! About six weeks in advance of this trip I had applied for a backcountry permit to hike down to the Bright Angel Campground, camp overnight, and hike out the next day. I had prepared by borrowing all the gear I needed from friends and felt ready to take on the hike down to the Colorado River. Upon arriving at the Grand Canyon, I found out that my backcountry permit had been denied. I had to change my plans for the coming two days. That is when I decided to hike down the Bright Angel Trail and back out the same day.
The hike down was quick, easy, and I thought to myself “I’ve got this”. Those are probably the words that most everyone things before they hike back up to the rim.
It took be two hours to hike down 1,600 ft below the canyon rim. The hike back up took just over four hours, and you can bet I rewarded myself with some peanut butter ice cream when I got back up!
I spent that night thinking about how amazing it would be to visit as many National Parks as possible all in a row. Taking on a road trip to hit as many as I could in a designated time frame. When I had this original dream I never would have thought about going more than a couple weeks at a time. But that is life, plans change and grow, they become dreams that challenge us to break the mold of our comfort zone for the experience of a lifetime.
After experiencing a Grand Canyon sunrise, I knew that this idea wouldn’t really leave me.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2018. I’m approaching the last semester of my Master of Divinity coursework and will graduate in May. I have been turned down this year for a PhD candidacy slot (in media studies), so in my mind there is no better time to take a trip. I don’t want to know that I have this dream of chasing adventure knowing that I may never get a chance to take a trip again.
And if one is going to chase the dream of adventure, then dream big! The trip that I have decided on will take me 7,500 miles across the west and would result in 27 National Parks visited. To explore, hike, get lost, and live in nature I’m going to take six whole months to do it. June would see the trip starting in Colorado, heading north towards Washington, and ending up at my parent’s house in Phoenix by Christmas. It is my no means a trip I am financially prepared for and have no idea if the whole trip is going to happen. But I am willing to take the risk for the adventure of a lifetime.
The National Parks I’ll be visiting include:
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Arches National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
- Great Basin National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Glacier National Park
- North Cascades National Park
- Mount Rainier National Park
- Olympic National Park
- Crater Lake National Park
- Redwood National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Pinnacles National Park
- Channel Islands National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
There it is, the dream, in 27 National Parks. A dream that will take me six months to accomplish. I look forward to adventuring, meeting new people, making new friends, and taking a ton of photos. I look forward to using this space to tell you about the adventure, share photos and stories, and to interact with everyone that wants to support the trip.
I plan to embark mid-June. And so, the planning begins!
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