We had seen only three people between the back-country of Kolob and Zion National Parks, all of which were serious backpackers with experience, quality gear, and a solid back-country philosophy. As we descended the switchbacks leading toward the park there was an ever increasing realization that the company had shifted away from ecologically minded adventurers to spring break California coeds. Lauren and I had eaten freeze-dried meals and snacked on beef jerky for 3 days, there was little which could stand between me and a burger from the brewpub within walking distance. After a real meal, and a shower, I was feeling no pain. All I wanted now was a camp fire, but with no wood what to do?
It seemed simple enough; everyone in Zion wanted to talk to the crazy Texans who had trekked the West Rim. Across the way was a campfire of “hippie kids”,;the plan, step 1.say hi to hippie kids, step 2. talk about backpacking, step 3. sit cold rear end near fire. I love hippies; there is nothing more entertaining than sitting around a campfire surrounded by Birkenstock wearing granola smokers. These kids turned out to be the most amazing, silly bunch to date, we had awesome conversations and laughed till our faces hurt. Of course being the “Texans” they assumed we were redneck, cowboy, illiterate, bigoted republicans, and we assumed they were unemployed, ignorant, ill-informed pot smoking, liberal arts majors. Lets just say some assumptions were correct on both sides. If your reading this typo, punctuation riddled text you will likely agree that Illiteracy may have been a fare assessment.
These kids had little to nothing; four of them were sleeping in a three person thrift-store tent, for dinner they were eating canned chilli on tortillas. However, they offered to share what little they had. As is the nature of many southerners I felt obligated to share a little hospitality. The next day Lauren and I did some grocery shopping and cooked a huge dinner to show our appreciation. That night the conversation once again turned to religion, politics, welfare, environmental preservation, you know the scary stuff. These are topics many families will not discuss, yet here we are with our new friends laughing, disagreeing, and realizing that we had more in common than our differences. The cold mountain air, a nice campfire, and new friends who tweaked each others views just a bit. I didn’t step away from those few days completely different, but I did realize that for all of our differences we are often attempting to say the same things. We long for purpose and direction, for passion, and art. We may believe differently, but often times our hearts are seeking common goals. Of course we should state our opinions, and share our convictions. Yet we should do so remembering that to win an argument at the cost of a relationship is to loose the future opportunity to refine, and to be refined by this person.