Rock Canyon Rocks!

I have a love-hate relationship with Rock Canyon, the nearest nature spot to our home. It is beautiful year-round, and I am often there on foot; sometimes daily. Occasionally I bring along the family, a friend or two, or the dogs. The beauty and drama rarely disappoint—it seems every time of day and every season of the year brings something exciting and new—like I’m seeing the canyon for the first time, even though I’ve been there easily a hundred times.

Rock Canyon is known for the dramatic cliff walls rising up majestically on both sides, beckoning to climbers and cliff-jumpers as well as hikers like me. These rock walls capture the light in amazing ways and cast deep shadows over its crevasses.

But Rock Canyon is not my first choice for a hiking trail for one main reason: rocks.  (haha—I guess its name gave it away!)  The abundance of rocks that create such drama also makes the trail, well, rocky. It’s easy to slip on a pile of sliding shale or turn your ankle on an uneven patch, or stub your toe on rocks jutting out on the trail at any point in the first couple of miles. You have to cross five wooden foot bridges and wind your way up pretty high before the soles of your feet actually land on dirt. The rocks also make it less lush—the foliage is sparse, the air dry, and the overall feeling completely arid—and on sunny afternoons they seem to hold onto the heat and project it. The canyon turns into a stone-fired oven, and if you're not careful, you bake.

But this winter I gained a new appreciation for the rocks I hadn’t realized before. On Thanksgiving morning our family ventured about twenty minutes up the Rock Canyon trail when we hit a huge patch of ice, signaling the onset of winter. We poked around a little farther, then decided to turn around. We hadn’t brought crampons or other ice gear and wondered how far we’d be able to make it up the canyon safely.

The next day I went back, and the answer surprised me—I could go as far and as high as I wanted and the reason? It was the rocks. Those same annoyances in the trail during better weather became my allies on these somewhat icy days—the rocks provided traction that kept me from slipping and falling. My least favorite aspect of the trail suddenly became an asset.

I started wondering what else in my life started out as a deterrent, but ended up giving me the traction to keep going when conditions got rough. The first thing that came to mind was financial struggles. Had we not run into some lean years…years when we bought our furniture second-hand and refinished it ourselves, years when we had to start building our savings from the ground up, we wouldn’t have a lot of the skills we have now…the ability to live on less than we earn, donate to charity and save for larger goals (the seventeen savings accounts we have now)…the creative problem-solving required to put a household together on a shoestring without it looking that way…the ability to live debt-free and teach our children sound financial principles. If we have any traction now, i would have to give some credit to those earlier “rocks” in our path.

I invite you to join me in discovering rocks—new and old—in your own life, and looking for the blessing in disguise they might be…maybe some assistance waiting to surprise you on the trail when you least expect it.



   Jana Winters Parkin is an artist, writer, teacher, and adjunct art instructor at UVU. She and her husband have 3 kids and 2 dogs, and she spends every day possible rejuvenating her soul in Utah's glorious mountains. She writes at divergent pathways and exhibits her work at

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