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Don’t Leave The Path

November 22, 2019

Hiking in Utah falls into two categories. At a high level they fall into the “If you leave the path you will die,” and “If you leave the path you might die.

Many of the hikes we do here in the Rocky Mountains are canyon hikes. The great thing about hiking a canyon is that it’s typically very difficult to get lost. I’m not just thinking of adults, but I often went hiking with Boys Scouts, or my own children. When you are hiking a canyon, or more especially a slot canyon, you there is one way in and one way out.

If you are hiking a many of our other canyons you are walking along a path with a mountain to one side and an often really long drop to the other. These are the path that you will die if you leave the path. You tread very carefully when a step to the right will result in a drop of hundreds of feet.

We hike canyons so often that it’s sometimes tempting to forget that not everything has such a “in/out” approach. We also go hiking in more open areas. One of the most dangerous is the High Unitas in Northeastern Utah. It’s deceptively open. And yet, every year people step off the path for just a moment to take a picture and realize they cannot find their way back. Sometimes we find them, sometimes we find their remains.

That sounds crazy, right? I mean how could you miss the trail that you were just standing on? Gandalf warned Frodo and the dwarves to not leave the path in Mirkwood or they would not find their way back. He was right.

Last fall I took a couple of my adult children hiking in the Wasatch Mountains behind our house. It was a fairly short, but aggressive hike. It ended in a place called “The Meadow.”

Being late in the Fall, the grass was high. The trail was clearly visible and we had no trouble seeing our way forward. No trouble, that is until we stepped off the path.

And just like that, the trail vanished. Fortunately, we were expecting it and had a good view of the landmarks that would guide us back to the trail back to the canyon.

Life is a lot like that trail. My teenagers are so sure that they know exactly what they are doing and will have no trouble staying on the path toward their goals. And then, they take a step or two off the path. They lose sight of their ultimate destination and suddenly they are lost.

But, if someone else will stand on the path and guide them, they can easily find their way back.

I’m sure there’s some religious parables hidden in that long grass too.

I heard that Jewish carpenter guy was quite a hiker.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. Debra Newman permalink

    I’m moving to St George Utah in 2020 from San Diego. I hike a lot here with Meetups and Sierra Club hikes and camping. Can’t wait to explore Utah! Any good hiking clubs you can recommend for a athletic senior retired gal from the Navy?

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