A few weeks back, my friend Danielle and I decided to buy plane tickets on a whim. Where to-tah? Utah.
I’ve been there once before (AKA I almost died in a canyon with a Mormon whose name I never got), but this was going to be her first visit. We decided to rent a car and road trip from Salt Lake, to Zion National Park, over to Moab, then back to Salt Lake. There would be hot springs, canvas tents, and lots of hiking.
Us anxious types
A little background on us: We both have crazy anxiety but about very different things, so where one of us leaves off, the other begins. You could compare the level of potential chaos to driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic, which I did shortly after arriving in Salt Lake. This, of course, gave her terrible anxiety. I, on the other hand, just chuckled and continued on my way. We’re fiiiiiiiine, I told her. 13 minutes later I’m like WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?! You see? The same, but different.
In Zion, Danielle wanted to tackle Angel’s Landing (popular trail known for it’s big scary drop-offs) as a way of facing her fear of heights. It’s worth noting that she has some health issues that could lead to seizures and heart failure… and she has vertigo… and weird debilitating migraines. But… she just says the funniest shit sometimes, so I was like, yes, this is exactly the person I want to hike up a cliff with.
The man and the munk
After we made it up the first part, we sat to eat a snack and this chipmunk made a play to bite me in the crotch. I screamed, because as I said, a chipmunk tried to bite me in the crotch. This passing man got real serious like, “Did he just attack you?” looking like he was going to fight for my honor. It was flattering and all, but in busy parks like Zion, munks are pretty much conditioned to bite you in the crotch because stupid people feed the wildlife. I waved the man off and gave the munk a forgiving and familiar nod, because any nod is familiar if it’s toward someone/something that tried to bite you in the crotch.
The scary part
Danielle did some deep breathing exercises and we moved on to what seasoned hikers like myself call “the scary part.” At one point, I looked back and she was like…
…and that’s when I knew it was going to be a journey.
My method was to lie about how close we were to the top so she’d keep moving. When we rounded the bend and she realized we were nowhere near the top, I’d apologize and start the process all over again. She’ll never trust me again, but it worked.
We ran into a couple that was pretty much in the same exact situation, but way more open about it. The girl was straight up like, “We’re going to die. Fuck you for making me do this.” And the guy was like, “You can do it. Keep going. I believe in you,” and she was all, “DID YOU HEAR ME?! I SAID FUCK YOU FOR MAKING ME DO THIS.”
Naturally, we all became friends, which helped and hurt the situation. Danielle had someone to commiserate about her fear with, but they were also working each other up to a point of pure terror. The sudden downpour didn’t help.
The 45th time I told Danielle we were close to the top, we actually were. Once there, she refused to get up off all fours, but even so, the view was worth it. We both agreed.
(She wanted to make sure I amended this. She did get up off all fours. It just took ten minutes to work up the nerve.)
Douche of a guy
Going back down, she LITERALLY scooted the entire way on her butt. At one point she sat off to the side to let the people coming up pass and this douche of a guy was all, “Oh, don’t worry, we’ll all move for you. This isn’t inconvenient or anything.” And Danielle, being the sweetheart she is, was just like, “I’m sorry.” And he was all, “Oh, you’re sorry?! ha-ha. That makes it better.”
I’m thinking, she just made it to the top even though she’s scared shitless. When’s the last time you did anything that made you that uncomfortable, guy? Get out of the way, a goddamn champion is coming through, and guess what, this champ scoots on her butt.
What I really said was, “Don’t be such an asshole.” He got all offended like, “Geez, why are you so angry? Glad to see you’re enjoying this beautiful day.” But I was already past him and back to enjoying my incredible day with my inspirational AF friend. The crotch-biting chipmunks escorted us the rest of the way.
The rest of the trip was equally incredible. I made her do this repelling/canyoneering trip in Moab and we turned back into the angry couple from Zion. I was all, “I believe in you” and she was all, “FUCK YOU FOR MAKING ME DO THIS AGAIN.” It was pretty cute. As an added bonus, our guide took us to see this secret waterfall, which he apparently shows no one, which I guarantee he says to everyone he takes to see the secret waterfall. It was nice all the same.
Neither of us were ready to go home. Especially because the things and thoughts that scare me most, the ones that give me anxiety, live in that quiet space between amazing adventures. But my friend taught me something important in Utah. Be scared and do it anyway. It doesn’t matter if you-tah have to scoot-tah the whole way down on your butt…tah.