The Majesty of Zion

Trip Start Jan 14, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Zion National Park

Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Okay, I admit that I am not a believer in the Mormon religion (although the poly style of relationships is fashionable these days), however, after seeing this incredible place I understand how Joseph Smith may have had a vision of the angel Maroni here. Alright moving right along…

It's hard to fathom, but Death Valley, Red Rock Canyon and Zion are all related in as much as they are in the great Mojave Desert area – Zion borders it really, and is more a resident of the Colorado Plateau – strictly speaking.

It was a quick and painless drive from the lights of Las Vegas to the gate at Zion and I was settling into my spot around noon.  A quick trip across the parking lot to the visitor center brought to my attention that rain was expected for the next two days, so I jumped on the tram and headed into the canyon while the sun still shone bright.  I did the hike from The Grotto shuttle stop up to the Emerald Pools and back to the Zion Lodge.

How perfect is this?  Hike all afternoon and end up at the Lodge for cocktails.  I love civilization.

It was difficult to swallow that the perfect sapphire sky with little fluffy clouds was going to give way to a powerful thunderstorm tonight.  But it did, boy did it.

About the time I finished my hiking for the day, the wind started to blow – so much so that I couldn’t cook outdoors, which was okay, since it was already turning quite chilly.  After a movie and some reading I fell peacefully asleep until…around 2am I woke to the sound of near thunder and the inside of my van was continually light up by the lightning.  Thunder and lightening roared through the canyon and with it came pounding hail – it had to be good sized cuz it sounded like walnuts hitting the van. I stayed up like a school child watching and cheering it on.  I dozed back to sleep only to be woken up several more times by the encores.  When it was not thundering, I could hear the Virgin River (only a stones throw from my van) raging.

The last thunder rolled through the Canyon around dawn.  By the time I finished my bacon, eggs and coffee everything had simmered down to a gentle drizzle.  I pulled on my trusty waterproof pants and waterproof jacket and wooly hat and headed into the Canyon for more hikes.  The wildflowers here are not as abundant as my previous days, but the other hikers in their colorful rain slickers and make shift rain parkas made up for a lack of color – I think orange was the fashion color of choice but there was also purple, pink, green, yellow and everything inbetween.

Some of the trails were closed due to the high water, and others were modified because the river had cut off some of the trail, but there was plenty to see and lots of trails to explore. Actually the canyon is more breathtaking when the weather reminds you of the power the earth has over man.  I made my way from one end of the Canyon to the other and chocked up around 10 miles with a pleasant break in the middle for lunch at the Lodge with an Irish coffee to warm me up.

Of course, as soon as my hiking day was over around 5pm, the sun finally broke through and the birds started to sing and the temp became a lovely 70something.  That’s all good because tonight another storm blows through and this one is supposed to bring snow.  Yes, ladies, snow.

Tomorrow rain is expected so I'll see what's left to explore.  I take a ride with a Ranger (oh boy!) tomorrow morning and if the weather doesn't cooperate for hiking I'll wander into the little cute town of Springdale to make trouble with the locals.

Then I'm off bright and early Friday morning to do the scenic drive through the East end of the Canyon, cut back over to the 15 and try to make it to Calico Ghost town near that quaint vacation spot of Barstow, California.  That is, if Las Vegas doesn't grab me again...
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