I've been an all-too absent blogger lately, but not having had the chance to run much lately, I've been sapped of energy to blog about... not running.
Instead of focusing on the negatives (only one run last week, sadness) I will focus on the positives from my recent vacation.
I blogged about one memorable run a week ago but I had two memorable runs in northern Arizona. The second one was to something called Horseshoe Bend. Now, the annual vacation is to Lake Powell and we always stay in nearby Page, Ariz. So when researching Page, it's inevitable to find information on Horseshoe Bend.
This year, I made it a point to go there.
After my run on Saturday, I was encouraged. I wanted to get to Horseshoe Bend the next morning, go do some exploring and see what I came back with. I realized that not only was I within running distance of Horseshoe Bend, but that I was actually quite close. From our hotel, Horseshoe Bend was just two miles away.
I set out early, getting up again before 5 and hitting the asphalt shortly thereafter. The northern Arizona skies greeted me.
It was a strange feeling right from the start. The day before, I'd been running to something visible; my destination was in front of me and there were buildings and signs of life around me as well. But this way, I felt as if I was in the middle of nowhere about one minute after starting off on my way.
I'm not sure if this made the run seem any longer or if it was the slight elevation that was making me feel sluggish but I got through the first two miles in about 21 or 22 minutes, not the fastest time.
Now, I'd read about the turnoff to Horseshoe Bend. It supposedly was a small sign that unless you were specifically looking for it, you probably wouldn't realize it was there. Sure enough, I saw a small sign on the side of the road shortly after Mile 2 and knew I was there.
I turned down towards the parking lot and saw a sign with some warnings and general information. "Do not stand on the edge" seemed like a prominent warning, and since there were no railings, I figured it was a smart warning to heed.
I made my way up the hill, just past the parking lot...
... but didn't see much of anything.
Somewhere out there, though, was Horseshoe Bend. There was an unmistakable ravine over there but the splendid and magnificent glory that Horseshoe Bend holds was nowhere near evident from the top.
The trail there was sandy and the footing wasn't the greatest but I still ran down it. Once I got close to the overlook, the trail ended and there were simply massive rocks to stand on.
I got close to the edge. Not too close, but close enough. Like a giant's open-palmed slap to the face, I was instantly hit with the glory and amazement that was Horseshoe Bend.
I shut off my music, took the headphones out of my ears and soaked in the silence. I was in shock. Disbelief. Awe. Amazement. I felt so meaningless, so completely and utterly insignificant. Here was nature's glory, nature's treasure. This was far more beautiful than any man-made structure could possibly be, more awe-inspiring and stunning than any sight I'd seen since... I don't know. It's been nearly two weeks since and I haven't yet thought of something that took me aback quite like that.
I felt lucky to be there, yet also felt a bit unworthy. Shouldn't something like this be reserved for truly deserving people? Aside from running nearly three miles to get there, what did I do to earn the right to see such an amazing sight?
I'm really sorry that these pictures in no way capture the glory and amazement that is Horseshoe Bend. It's almost like a cheap imitation, looking at these shots. You can't fit such glory and splendor into a photograph, but I tried to capture the scene nevertheless. The ominous cliffs overlooking a mirror-like Colorado River. The protruding rock in the middle that over thousands of years forced the river to bend and twist and swerve to avoid it. The tiny trees and debris down below - part of that debris were kayaks and tents, property of amazing souls who were able to use Horseshoe Bend as their five-star hotel for the night.
Taking in all the scenery, pondering all these thoughts, I was overcome by emotion. I teared up. Couldn't help it. It's not every day a possibly undeserving soul is privy to such sights. This, after all, was nature at its finest, crafting such a beautiful picture on an already gorgeous canvas.
Others were headed down and I felt a tinge of excitement. Soon, they would behold Horseshoe Bend's glory.
I took a few more pictures, and wasn't quite sure how long I'd been sitting there, lost in thought. Had it been 10 minutes? 15? 20? Whatever the case, I knew it was time to head back. I smiled at one of the visitors, and went off running up the sandy trail. I didn't look back. I ran up the trail, legs burning but plowed on through and at the top I kept on going. I didn't want my last memory of Horseshoe Bend to be watching some people standing by the side of a ravine that I couldn't see. I wanted to remember Horseshoe Bend as it stood.
Out on the road, I was in a sort of stunned disbelief, not having yet digested what exactly had happened. But I felt good, felt strong. If anything, the visit to Horseshoe Bend had re-energized me. The run back was faster than it had been on the way there
Just at the end of my run, the skies opened up. Rain came down on me and I was helpless to stop it. I was close to the hotel so I wasn't in the rain too long, just long enough to drench me.
But not even the rain could dampen my mood that morning.