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Sometimes the planning itself becomes a trip on it’s own. Hours are spent meticulously pouring over maps, researching trails, reading reviews, asking everyone whose path I cross if they’ve been there, wherever “there” is. Other times I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants; have a few key destinations and go with no care other than hoping I’ve brought the right gear. Granted the fear of missing something stellar weighs heavy in the latter of the two options, but sometimes the pressure of trying to jam in too much has the same effect. I had a list of destinations, a GPS and my kit, so really, what more did I need?

Amy Rose Blog Moab Poem

As I drove out of Salt Lake City, sights set on Moab, I could feel my eyes widen as the crowded freeway gave way to the vast plateaus of the desert’s expanse. There’s always a desire to have someone else behind the wheel so I can busy myself with the scenery, but half the fun of road tripping is to feel the force of the engine on the pavement below catapulting me to my destinations. If you think of it as an extension of your body it can get as weirdly exciting as running through the most bewilderingly beautiful landscape gliding along with agility and maybe a little too much speed. Turns out the rental SUV in eco mode can easily move over 100MPH!

The soaring red rock walls that enveloped me during the final stretch into town were jaw dropping enough to have me squealing and thinking that alone could keep me happy for days. No need to go any further. I was done right there. Snap a few photos and I might as well turn back. I decided to press on anyway.

Amy Rose Blog Moab Sunrise

Chasing light as the night’s sky crept in to welcome the almost full moon perched high above Fisher Towers had me flooded with awe. The juxtaposition between the sandstone spires and snow capped La Sal Mountains that stood proudly behind left my mind spinning. Headlamp on running into a darkening canyon next to a sheer drop didn’t seem the best way to raise my heart rate so I turned back and settled for a quick jaunt long enough to bring my road weary buns back from numbsville.

Amy Rose Blog Moab Night Road

Amy Rose Blog Moab Tree

My excitement about the sunrise had me wide awake at 4:30am like a kid on Christmas morning. Running into a new day is one of my favorite things to do, and I had four of them to run into on my latest rip ‘n’ run in the southeast corner of Utah. I figured I better not miss my chance so I climbed out into the darkness fueled by unrelenting enthusiasm and the weakest coffee a cheap motel could provide. I had never seen anything like it. The sky turned into a bubbling caldera spewing red, orange and yellow against what was only moments ago the pale blue white memory of a fading night. There was no running. There was only standing, transfixed, in awe. At least for the moment.

The wind was high the days I was there, providing an added challenge to the struggle I was already feeling with my sea level legs standing at higher than 5,000’. The views were glorious though and running to see them made it even better. It’s funny how walking 5 miles has almost become more difficult than running it, whereas just a few years ago I would’ve thought the other way around. There's something so invigorating about having speed beneath you as you cross over this ancient land. My thoughts wander far beyond the other adventure seekers around me as well as those who have traversed these trails before me. I’m taken back to a time when this land was called home to tribes, to nomads, to dinosaurs. What did it look like then? How did it feel? Do the ravens know? Do they remember?

As I run along the canyon’s edge I’m startled at how the light plays off the twists and turns of what was once an ocean floor, leaving me to think I’m atop the Empire State Building looking down at the intense density of the city below. I blink my eyes in the way one does to ensure they’re not crazy, and that their contact lenses are still floating around on their eyeballs where they were placed earlier that day. Nope, definitely not New York City, just a seemingly endless maze of secret wonder.

Amy Rose Blog Moab Desert

Sometimes I feel swallowed up by nature. I’m humbled in a way I never knew possible. I become overwhelmed without warning, only made aware as I feel tears stream down my cheeks. I refer to myself as a nature cryer, in an effort to explain to anyone who might be around what’s happening with me. It is the great leveler. The ultimate healer. I knew it was going to happen, but wasn’t sure when or where. It took me by surprise, as it always does, this time by something I’ve seen photographs (and license plates) of for decades. The wind was fierce, making the final approach seem as narrow as a balance beam running alongside an unforgiving drop to a sandstone floor. My steps seemed to slow in motion. As I rounded the corner I thought there was going to be a Wizard of Oz situation minus the striped tights and ruby slippers. I ducked down in an attempt to not be blown over, peering up in the seconds the wind didn’t seem furious at my presence. There it was. Delicate Arch. And then I cried. I honestly don't even think it’s the most beautiful of all the arches at Arches National Monument, although definitely the most familiar.

Amy Rose Blog Moab Delicate Arch

People kept telling me I might spend half a day in Arches with the majority of my time in Canyonlands National Park, but they were wrong. I think I could happily spend a lifetime in Arches without seeing every nuance of light, color and shadows my eyes could possibly drink in. Parts of it reminded me of roaming through the Egyptian Room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City when I was a kid. I saw Nefertiti watching proudly over the land, and what appeared to be ancient stories written on the sandstone walls that rose up around me. I was gone again, transported to a different place and time.

The clouds rolled in with a warning that seemed to tell us to respect the land we traversed, and when it seemingly didn’t trust our intentions it unleashed a torrent of hail that left me crouching under the round of a nearby rock wall for cover until Mother Nature felt her message was rightly heard. The freshly wetted landscape offered a deep and complex color palate unlike anything I had ever seen. The rainfall brought a temperature drop with it that kept me running to fight its chilling effects, stopping only for photo ops and GPS checks.

Amy Rose Blog Moab River

Another adventure as grand as I had planned was in the books! Ripping and running around jaw dropping terrain while giving my mind a chance to air itself out and reevaluate what thoughts get to take precedence in my brain is just what I needed. One of the best parts of traveling, even if it’s just a day in the local woods, is that it reminds me how miniscule some of my biggest problems can be. It’s not that I mean to undermine or simplify my sometimes skewed brain function or the reality of my life experiences, but to potentially alter my perception enough to remember the difference between pain and suffering, want and need, reality and fantasy, and what demands I’ve put on myself that I’m free to release. How fortunate I am to have these legs, these shoes, this smartphone to take photos and write with, these canyons, these arches and this land to see! Another rip ‘n’ run done, and I am grateful.

Amy Portrait

Amy Rose is a hair stylist, trail runner, photographer, writer and mental health advocate. She has been using trail running and hiking as a tool to help battle depression and anxiety for over 5 years. Amy credits running and her discovery of nature as a muse as critical to assisting in her recovery and transformation. Her unique perspective is apparent in her writing and photography and shines a light on the pursuit of seeking alternative mental health and lifestyle choices. This year Amy’s run goal is to surpass the 1,075 miles she ran last year. Let’s see if she can do it!

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