Stepping off the shuttle with my two boys in total darkness, my stomach clinches. Our plan was to take the shuttle to the top of Zion canyon and bike the nine miles down in the evening light. Evening light – light being the operative word. It is now dark. As in no light, no twilight, nothing but darkness.
“Watch out for deer on the road,” our driver says to us as we unload our bikes from the shuttle’s rack. We are the only passengers. “Last year a woman came up here and thought it would be fun to bike down in the dark, without a headlight, and hit a deer. Both ended up hurt pretty bad.”
“Yeah, ohh-kay,” my husband says as I adjust the boys’ headlamps.
What the heck have we done? I ask myself as I send my children off ahead of me. Leading the way is Bryce, our fearless 15 year old, with the brightest head lamp clamped to his helmet. Colin, our 12 year old, puts himself in the middle and my husband, Malone, and I share our tandem bringing up the rear as we ride through the darkness. With only three headlamps, I am given the third as it is the only one with a “red tail light.”
The views, they said, would be amazing in the falling light. I can’t really say. Can’t see anything but the reflective seats of the two bikes ahead of me. And that is what I do the entire way – shine my light hoping to illuminate their way as we make our way down the canyon.
We have the ride of our lives. The bats come out and fly with us. The deer stay on the side of the road, thankfully, but we see their glowing eyes as we whizz by. There is no one else around and we get to experience this part of the canyon alone – quite a feat for a park that gets over 30,000 visitors a day this time of year.
And it dawns on Malone and I – the metaphor of this ride. The kids are fearless, the path clear, the sky dark but we have an experience of a life time. We both know that not all of our trip will be this successful or amazing – nerve racking and sanity checking yes – but it’s nice to know that every once in awhile we get it right.