The Road to Zion
America’s National Parks hold a special place in our heart as our founder’s stint of #vanlife during the summer of 2017 is where the idea for Luna Volta was born. We welcome guest contributor Ali Barkouras to share her summer road trip through the red rock vistas of Zion National Park, UT.
“Zion is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It was exposed by an artist who lived in Zion for a summer and released a collection of paintings that showed giant mountains full of reds, pinks, purples, and oranges. When releasing his work, no one believed that it was real. They thought he was "making it up" because colors like that “couldn’t” exist in nature. That is truly how beautiful it is. It looks fake, it looks like you are standing on a stage full of colorful props but, if you look close enough, you can see every historical layers in the mountains. You can see each brush and tree perfectly placed to create a livable ecosystem. You hear the wind howl through the canyons and the light shine down on the Virgin River. Deer frolicking in the meadow and squirrels scavenging for remnants.
[My partner] Drew and I road tripped to Zion from Orange County to meet his parents and do some adventure seeking. Drew’s Dad, Mark is an avid hiker and wanted to show us the ropes for a few of his favorite hikes. We left at 3am and arrived around 9am stopping only once in Vegas for an iced coffee and some gas. I recommend playing your top playlist and car games (we are big fans of the alphabet game: you find a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet using only freeway signs. We got to Z because of Zion!)
Arriving is much different than you would expect. I was expecting to see the giant mountains and peaks Zion is known for from the freeway. However, you cannot see Zion from a distance. After a few miles on a one-way street, you enter a valley which consists of mom and pop ice cream shops and a few restaurant pit stops. Around you are the symbolic red cliffs I was expecting.
Camping would be fun but our hotel was a blast, we stayed at the Desert Pearl Inn. The pool helped cool us off after long days in the canyon too! Our first "hike" was of the Emerald Pools. To be honest, the photos looked a lot better than this did in person but the scale and urban barrel of red rock is pretty spectacular. This isn't much of a hike but more of a 2 mile walk and is great for beginners! Every where you look is a perfect area for a picnic so bring snacks and plenty of water!
We star gazed and went to bed early that night for the hike ahead. The famous Angels Landing. My anxiety was running high as this is one of the most difficult hikes mentally and physically in the US. I began to use the organic Luna Volta "Nova" CBD hemp oil drops to help cool my nerves and prepare my muscles.
Important Note: Crowds on the trail to Angel’s Landing have been enormous in recent months. As of the summer, waits to get into the hike can be up to 3 hours. Get there early and be ready to wait. This is for safety reasons as they do not want to get too many people on the tiny cliffs edge at once.
This brings up a good point, why is Angels Landing so popular? It’s meant for adventure seekers and is a great hike to check off the bucket list. It is more about the journey than the destination. Yes, the view from the top of Angels Landing is spectacular, but it’s the final climb along the narrow ridge that draws so many people here. With chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, stunning views, and vertigo-inducing heights, this really is a thrilling hike. The Walter’s Wiggles was definitely the hardest part... 21 switchbacks that get your thighs burning and your heart pumping. At the top of Walter’s Wiggles is Scouts Lookout, a viewpoint of the valley and vertical ridge you just climbed. From Scouts Lookout, it’s just 500 ft of climbing to go. The most difficult 500 ft. ever... The middle section of the spine is where things really get interesting. There is a lot of exposure here. The trail narrows to just a few feet wide, with drop offs on either side. Talking about drops, I took another dose of NOVA.
With the help of the chains, you have to scramble up and down sandstone steps and boulders. The Virgin River looks tiny down in the valley below, if you dare look down. I loved seeing how small the trams looked too, really putting the scale into perspective. This is a huge mountain. The top is a bit eery and triggers vertigo so we did not stay for long.
The hike down requires patience and awareness so have a snack and remember, everyone goes at their own pace. You will have to wait for fellow hikers to walk down the cliffs peak.
Tired, Hungry, and HOT! Time to take off your hiking boots, it was lounging, eating & drinking, and pool time. We enjoyed tapas and cocktails at Moki, Zion's only "trendy" restaurant. Don't let the charm and character on the main road stop you from trying more! Zion Noodle was also fantastic.
Night swims and card games led to sleep and another early morning of hiking. This time, to the Narrows. The narrowest section of Zion Canyon situated on the North Fork of the Virgin River and upstream of the main canyon, The Narrows is one of the prettiest hikes in the park and on the Colorado Plateau. The Narrows refers to both the 3.6 miles bottom-up hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs and is surrounded by water. This was one of my favorite views and memories from the trip. The water is refreshing and everywhere you look there is beauty. It is CROWDED so instagrams posing is not ideal but don't worry about that and enjoy gods creations.
Next up, Drew and I water rafted down the Virgin River in inner tubes with Banquet Coors in hand. Apparently, Drew "forgot" to tell me to lift my back up because boulders in the river started to throw me off my tube and left me with war scars. The river ebbed and flowed and brought us down stream about 3-5 miles. This was a 2 hour adventure with extremely peaceful moments and extremely BUMPY ones. NOVA came in handy once again because when I got back, it became my life saver.
We followed the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.
I noticed such a difference over the weekend using NOVA. I am usually extremely sore and although I had a few aches here and there, my body felt well rested and my skin was extremely clear. The drops have become apart of my daily regimen and a wellness hack for my friends and family.
See you soon, Zion!”
Article by guest contributor Ali Barkouras of Lyke Minded. Lyke Minded is a visual portrayal of my creative mind. From eclectic graphics to platters & planks, this interactive portfolio and blog showcases my ornate California aesthetic.