Zion National Park, Utah (Sep 26/14) – The intense ‘dead’ heat of the Las Vegas area was the prime initiator of N&J’s travel to Zion… the trek made easy by the lure of the red mountains on the horizon. The park’s high elevation brought slightly cooler temperatures, but the scenery did not disappoint. The red coloured sandstone mountains are stunning. After the past weeks of travel in drought-prone desert locales, the intense colours and green foliage is a most welcome addition.
click on pic to enlarge – right/left arrow to scroll thru the gallery
Again it was a ’no vacancy’ situation in the park. The amount of visitors to the National Parks at this time of year is remarkable. The first night was spent just outside the park boundary in a private campground in Springdale, Utah. The next day scoped out a campsite in the ‘South Campground’ in Zion. ‘Early bird gets the worm’ is definitely the methodology to securing a spot in this ‘first come, first served’ facility. As it would happen there was no shortage of people looking for a campsite. N&J offered up space to share on their site to a young couple traveling from New Orleans (Chris and Welcome)… another chance meeting with some very special people. Like meeting old friends the four bonded easily with stories of travel & life …and laughter.
The hiking in Zion rewarding… breathtaking vista views, fanciful waterfalls, rivers and streams (some with water in them!!!). The most scenic and challenging excursion was the River Canyon Walk. Hiking along the bottom of the towering cliffs, in water sometimes up to the thighs… wearing special canyon walking boots, neoprene socks & hiking sticks needed to minimize the risk of falling, or smashing your foot into a rock… the current quite swift in places, the rocks appearing to move beneath the surface. The weather playing a big part whether you hike or not. The risk of a flash flood in the canyon is always present. Once in the narrowest portion of the canyon (called Wall Street), only 20’ wide, with cliffs that towered 1000’ straight up… a thunderstorm was forming above. Upon reaching the most difficult portion of the canyon, the sky split open with thunder & lightening raging above. Fear in each step, wading through the rushing water, thunder echoing in the canyon, the pace now becoming a sprint. Torrential rain pelting the skin and the fear of a flash flood (6-12’ high wall of mud with debris of logs and branches leading the onslaught) brought on a quick exit from the canyon. Breathless and ecstatic, N&J made it out of the Canyon safely… but nevertheless a scary experience. The question being… why some people continued to enter the canyon during the storm when such a risk was evident… a disaster just around the corner.
Being so close to the Grand Canyon & having extra time to spare before returning to Las Vegas meant a visit to the North Rim (which is more than a 1000’ higher than the more popular South Rim). Incredible views of the canyon, immense height & breadth, a ‘Grand’ canyon indeed. The lodge & campgrounds all reserved to the limits, and no persons available to ask to share their space. N&J moved along stopping in a pull out (with no apparent signage to prohibit overnight parking). The stay was dark & quiet. Only the trembling birch in the meadow made their presence known. Wasn’t until the next morning while making a pancake breakfast that a Park Ranger informs that sleeping overnight is not permitted. Upon reviewing N&J’s identification and seeing the ‘Honeymoon Suite’ on the back window, leniency prevailed, dodging a hefty fine the two carried on. The rules seem to be very fluid from park to park, one wishes for more consistency. Where are visitors expected to stay when it is all filled up?
Next day a required stop in St. George, Utah to check on fellow Westfalia people from Massachusetts who were having engine trouble with their VW camper. Previously met Cecilia and Jim in Yosemite NP and had kept in touch by email when the S.O.S came in. Turned out the main computer brain ECU (electronic control unit) in their van ‘Putt Putt’ was defective. Spent the evening parked in the back of a repair shop and set up camp. Swapping stories over beer and burritos out of Hobbes while they waited for parts coming from California.
A few locals interested in Westfalias stopped by to join in the chatter while other passerby’s looked over… inquisitively confused.