The Open Road Part 2: Solitude and Salt Lake City

As people, I believe we are a multi-faceted species, and for us not to express those facets in ways that reflect our soul’s true colors would be a shame.

This post comes to us from our friend and contributor, Camille Collett.

After 2 weeks of rock climbing with a friend in Red Rocks, Nevada, I began making my way toward Salt Lake City Utah to visit, hike and snowboard with John, my good friend from grad school.

The drive to Salt Lake from Vegas isn’t very long (~6 hours) but I decided to camp for 2 nights on my way there for some relaxation and alone time — to open up the avenues of my mind and spirit I hadn’t had time to use in Red Rocks.

I truly cherish time spent alone. I learned how important it is while in grad school the past 2 years. For me it’s a form of meditation, where I can do whatever I want without having to worry about anything or anyone else. I can just be an observer and be me. It’s refreshing, enlightening and always resets me mentally. Quail Lake State Park, where I camped, was the perfect place for me to embrace the peace and solitude I was looking for. It was calm and beautiful. Having the open expanse of the lake to gaze at while I was there made me feel at home.

As people, I believe we are a multi-faceted species, and for us not to express those facets in ways that reflect our soul’s true colors would be a shame. When I woke up Saturday I was excited to open up those other aspects of who I am. After coffee and breakfast I did yoga, went for a hike, jumped in the (freezing) lake, wrote a poem, played guitar, painted, read and relaxed in the warm sun, letting my mind open up in whichever way it pleased.

.:Dance of the Wind:.
Disturbance on the lake. Sparkles of the sun reflecting back to me.
The birds fly over. A different perspective. Parallax.
Closer to me the thin branches of the rooted desert tree shake and sway. It comes alive.
And closer yet, the foxtails so light like earth-rooted feathers vibrate drunkenly back and forth.
And then to me, cooling the spot on my chest the sun had shone to warm.
The dance of the wind.

It felt good to express myself creatively, to find the freedom to swap back and forth without judgment or rush. I slept outside in my hammock that night under the moon and stars.

After waking up with the sun Sunday morning I started driving towards Salt Lake, taking the scenic route through Zion National Park. I’d planned on meeting friends in Zion at the end of March (a future post) so I was okay with only getting a glimpse of the park and not getting out of my car.

And holy shit. What a glimpse it was.

It was just, as if not more, incredible than everyone had told me. My mouth hung open as I tried not to crash while driving through this beautiful, massive, natural wonderland. I was beyond stoked to get to come back to Zion with a good chunk of time to explore, climb and canyoneer in just a few weeks.

My awestruck face driving through Zion.

After driving through the mountains of central Utah, stopping frequently for things worth photographing, I came upon Salt Lake as the full moon rose behind the Wasatch Mountains.

Though apparently dismal for this time of year, seeing the snow made me excited for the change of scenery and activity from climbing in the red sandy desert to snowboarding in the white winter mountains.

After burritos and catching up with John I took a glorious, much-needed shower and slept in a bed for the first time in over 2 weeks.

Over the course of a week we skied (John)/snowboarded (me) at 3 different resorts around Salt Lake for free thanks to some of his amazing job perks. He took me touring or backcountry skiing/split boarding up Pink Pine Ridge in Little Cottonwood Canyon, just 15 minutes from his house. Touring was something I’d never done before but always wanted to try. I fell (a lot) trying to make my way up the mountain with the awkward-feeling skis and skins attached to my feet. Sometimes I’d think I’d made it successfully up and over a steep section only to start sliding backwards down the hill, onto my belly and into some trees. It was challenging, frustrating and humbling but the views and fresh tracks coming down the mountain made it an incredibly rewarding experience.

On a whim one day (instead of God forbid, paying for a lift ticket) we decided to go check out Salt Lake – like the actual lake. It’s something I think a lot of people forget about when they come to Salt Lake City, despite it being the city’s namesake. John, and it seemed like many other locals, had never been there despite growing up nearby. When we got there I was baffled by that fact. The lake is expansive and its reflection is like a perfect mirror of the heavens above. Sometimes it was hard to tell where the water ended and sky began. It’s shallow too – you can wade out a hundred yards in places and be only knee-deep.

After checking out the lake we continued up a trail for a hike on Antelope Island. Bathtub rings from the old Salt Lake, ‘Lake Bonneville’, over 14,000 years ago, made perfectly flat trails for hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.

Bathtub rings from the old Lake Bonneville can be seen all around Salt Lake

We watched the sunset before heading back down to the car. Coming to the lake was a total treat, one that neither of us expected to be so wonderful. I highly recommend spending a day at Salt Lake and Antelope Island.

It was a lovely week catching up with John, playing in the mountains, making dinners in an actual kitchen, being clean and sleeping in a bed… but I was excited and ready to embark on my next adventure, to embrace some solitude in Moab, Utah, exploring and immersing myself in the desert and in Arches National Park.

Read the Introduction and Part 1 of Camille’s adventures!


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7 years ago

This was a great post. I’m across the ocean but if I ever go to the US I must visita that gorgeous lake!