Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cliff Hanger

South-side of Zion Canyon ~ photo: myshilohanch

Sorry to leave this blog hanging for so long ... things got SO busy since the last post! Without further delay:

Zion ~ Episode 2:

Late last July, Grandson S and I got to take a week-long road trip together. We ended up sharing a grand adventure, quite worthy of his 14 year old constitution and my almost-64 year old frame!

We headed for Zion National Park, Utah, not knowing if we would stay or move on.

For lunch, we stopped at: Peggy Sue's Diner. 4+ bullet faire ¤¤¤¤+

A serious must-do if you are anywhere near Las Vegas! This iconic, authentic 50's diner is out in the middle of nowhere, right off of the I-15, just 10 miles north of Barstow, CA. Watch for the billboards! FUN, excellent food, large servings, excellent service, and kid friendly! There are photos, everywhere throughout the diner, of celebs who have eaten there.

Once YOU have eaten there, you will be back! If you like dill pickles, be sure to try their "deep-fried pickles." Oh.my.goodness. YU-UMMM!!! Whoever first thought those would be SO good?

We traveled north on Highway 18 through (thank God) the HORRID work traffic of Las Vegas. NOTE: avoid work traffic like the plague!

We finally got out and the vista opened into a barren land of greyish hills. At least no more inappropriate neon signs!
We stopped at a small, sparse Visitor Center in NV. This charming farming community, sprawls alongside of the freeway. The volunteer at the center told us that the Pony Express played a star role in the history of this town. NOTE: visit historical spots here sometime.
We then passed through the beautiful, classic old city of St. George, UT. Still quite small for a city ... at least compared to our CA "metropoli!" There is a highly recommended Visitor Center and Museum located there; but we opted to visit when we had more time. NOTE to self: schedule St George on agenda for next trip.
We took Exit 18 and traveled east on HWY 9. We slowly drove through the really cute and cozy small town of Cedar City, UT.
As we drew closer, we could see the beginnings of the Canyon ... the rock turned more and more red! Words do not suffice! Awesome, interesting, beautiful, captivating ... shapes, shades, and designs of the red rocks were getting bigger, higher and more awesome as we drove!
Until ... voila!

Finally... we arrived at our destination: Springdale, UT!
What a beautiful, idyllic little town! I surely left my heart there.
Perfect timing: we checked in and got settled into our motel ... well before dark.
View from our room ~ Pioneer Lodge

We stayed at the Pioneer Lodge: 4+ bullets ¤¤¤¤+

The perfect spot! Right at the gateway to Zion National Park. Highly recommended. Cozy (small, but you only sleep there), clean rooms, appointed with all the necessities (except charging stations), plus extraordinarily comfortable beds, refrigerator, and microwave. There is a pool, spa, free wi-fi, restaurant ...even a laundramat. Kid friendly. Shops and free shuttles into the park are just steps away. Right next door are domestic elk, buffalo, longhorn cattle, horses, and other uncommon lifeforms!!!

WARNING: NO PETS at this motel! As much as I love to travel with my dogs ... I really do nItalicot recommend this adventure for pets anyway, unless you bring an RV. Pets are only allowed in very restricted areas. This location is a place you will want to be free to hike whenever and wherever your eye and your heart may lead you.

Zion Canyon: view from Angels' Landing
One can only imagine what awe the Mormon pioneers must have felt as they crossed the Colorado Plateau and came across this incredible river and canyon! I am sure that God's Presence was overwhelmingly evident ... as it still is today. WOW! There are so many and varied areas to explore; I totally understand why they settled right near here. No need to go further.

Click on the monument for the short story.
The next day we hit lots of the little artsy shops in town, then shuttled in to the Visitor Center inside the National Park! "DISNEYLAND!"
~ Zion National Park Visitor Center ~ 5 Bullets ¤¤¤¤¤
Too much cool stuff to even begin to blog about. You must experience it yourself. From there you can catch the Park shuttles to anywhere within the Park.
We had brunch out on the lawn of the Center. What a beautiful, peaceful place! We were there during the busy season, so there were quite a few people ... but no crowds, not one child crying; everyone was happy, smiling and calm!
What a special spot on earth! Visitors were there from all over the globe! But in that place, we were all the same! God's Awesomeness, reflected in His creation, so surpasses the boundaries of words and languages! Bless Him!

That evening we rode a shuttle (they run every 5-6 minutes) into the Park and checked out the whole "loop" route. We got off at the Sinawava Temple stop and took the 1 mile Riverside Walk to the beginning of the river-hike. That did it, we knew where we were headed the next morning! We were going to hike, past the RW, enter the river, hike in the water, on and over the rocks, several miles up into the narrowest part the canyon, into the famed and revered slot canyon, aptly named:


Excitedly, we went into town and bought proper "water shoes," a "bladder" for a camel pack (hydration unit), a "fanny pack," packable food, LOTS of water, and a new camera (mine broke.) BTW: We found almost all the items on sale, bless God ... He is so faithful to provide for us, for where He guides us!!! HINT: Check out the sale tables in front of the storefronts for kaylagonga deals!

We visited the Zion Adventure Company: 4+ bullets ¤¤¤¤+
to get outfitted for our day-trek. The experienced staff showed us a pre-hike orientation-type film and familiarized us with the upcoming terrain, recommended clothing, necessities, and possible signs of danger ... poison oak, mountain lions, flash floods, etc.

The three main DANGER signs to watch for:
Water suddenly getting faster
Water getting darker, muckier
Debris floating down from upstream
As soon as you notice even one of the signs:
Seek higher ground immediately (at least 6 feet above the river) and STAY there for at least 15 minutes or until the water subsides.
Do not wait for a second sign!
Excellent advice for any river or canyon hike!
The personnel at the Adventure Company are very helpful and informative. I highly recommend attending the lectures, seeing the films and heeding their advice. They are experienced in rock climbing, rappeling, river and dry hiking and canyoneering. AND ... they know the local quirks of the land. They do not charge for information or advice and the cost of their rental gear is minimal, if you choose to use it. Good quality gear is a little pricey to buy. Guided adventures are also available for hire.

We "made" dinner in the motel micro, filled our waters, and supplies ...and hit the hay as soon as we could.

We met our outfitters when they opened at 8 am, rented our "official" hiking sticks and waterproof packs, bought quick-dry, no-blister socks, and logged our personal info, intentions, destination and emergency #s.

Weather conditions posted for this day: "afternoon thunderstorms and 20 percent chance of flash flooding!" WOOHOO, a real bonafide adventure!

We packed all of our survival gear ... mostly food for the ravenous, bottomless teenager and water enough for both of us, plus camera and emergency supplies of course. Sunblock, compass, battery operated light, lip balm, hats, epi pen, and first aid kit. We took our cell phones too, although there is no service deeper into the canyon.

We took one of the wonderful free shuttles up to Sinewava Temple stop and began our hike up the Riverside Walk. "Kodak moments" were literally everywhere ... so our pace was quite a bit slower than it would have been without a camera. I would not, however, trade time for the memories in the pictures that we brought home! Truthfully though, keeping my new Nikkon from getting wet was a little stressful; a little research will surely resolve that issue! NOTE: Bring a seriously waterproof camera bag next time and inner tube or other floatation device for equipment transport.

Almost Shangrila, except for the summer influx of tourists. However, I must say, we did not come across one grouch and only a few rude (make that unconscious, teenagers from France.) Actually, in this immense canyon, having people in your shots lends great perspective to your photographs. Excitement welled up in us, as the path ended and we entered the waters of the river to begin our hike into the famed Zion Canyon Narrows!

Oops, out of time! RATS! Will have to leave you hanging again, until the next installment. Probably enough to swallow of my rambling, at one time anyway :) Gosh, I am getting all excited again, just writing about this! How funny, I actually have "butterflies" in my stomach! I can hardly wait to go back, even via the blogosphere! :D

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1 comment:

turquoisemoon said...

National Parks!!! I do love them so... Thanks for sharing and looking forward to part 2...