Zion National Park

A friend of mine has an annual post-labor-day tradition of group camping and/or hiking somewhere in Zion National Park.  On this trip they did The Narrows, where the Virgin River cuts through slot canyons.  This hike calls for a great deal of wading, and functional feet, so with my bad foot, I was instead one of the drivers (someone has to drop off and pick up the hikers) and stayed in camp.

The plan was to meet on Friday, 10 Sep 1999, in Zion National Park.

Click on any thumbnail to see it in full size.

04virgriver.jpg (19458 bytes) I stayed overnight in Las Vegas but was too tired to actually see anything there.  In the morning I continued on towards Utah.  Las Vegas is in a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by mountains, but once you get past them, this part of the desert is fairly flat and boring -- until just about the border of Arizona, where you enter the Virgin River Gorge.  This is just part of it as seen from I-15.

05zion.jpg (46976 bytes) 06zion.jpg (38882 bytes) Eventually I-15 leaves the gorge and proceeds up a long wide valley in Utah, more or less along the Hurricane Fault.  I was ridiculously early at this point (which, since my car's air conditioning was broken, had been the idea: I wanted to stay out of the worst of the heat near Las Vegas) so I all the way up to Cedar City, to meet some of the hikers.  Cedar City is several thousand feet higher than Zion, and correspondingly cooler.  Late that afternoon, we all headed back down to Watchman Campground and set up camp, and then had dinner.  I brought a cheesecake; it survived the trip, but not the dinner.

07zion.jpg (43241 bytes) 08zion.jpg (34334 bytes) 09zion.jpg (28211 bytes) Saturday morning, I got up early enough to catch the sunrise.

10zioncamp.jpg (47514 bytes) 12ziongroup.jpg (53491 bytes) Sennard packs up for the trip to the insertion point, far to the east; miscellaneous group shot.  (The yellow tent at the far left is mine.)
14zionswuf.jpg (57979 bytes) 13zionmmm.jpg (29550 bytes) Gri goofs off.  Meanwhile, wasps find leftovers.  Yum!

16zion.jpg (23821 bytes) Fuzzy (sorry) pictures taken from Gri's van on the trip to and from the dropoff point.  This one is a view from the Colorado Plateau, east of the park itself.
15zion.jpg (39698 bytes) 17zionarch.jpg (20624 bytes) Rock formations in the upper part of Zion, and a view of one arch, just below the tunnel.

18ziongroup.jpg (58310 bytes) 20zionsun.jpg (17928 bytes) More goofing off in our camp, followed by sunset.

21zion.jpg (37584 bytes) 22zion.jpg (39811 bytes) Sunday -- more rock formations.  The second one is from the parking lot near the visitor's center.

23zion.jpg (57632 bytes) 24zionweep.jpg (68591 bytes) Verticality!  Weeping rock lived up to its name.  Alas, I ran out of film at this point.  The next shot was after going back to camp.

25zion.jpg (62672 bytes) 30zion.jpg (56916 bytes) At the Temple of Sinawava.  This was where we were to do the pickup.  We wandered around for a while and headed towards the narrows.

31zion.jpg (85640 bytes) 34zionelf.jpg (51496 bytes) 35zion.jpg (52896 bytes) Here the river runs close to the base of sheer cliffs. As always, ``available light isn't'', but these dark shots came out pretty good anyway, in a sort of cheesy ``artsy'' fashion.

33zion.jpg (86146 bytes) 33zion.jpg (86146 bytes) A better-lit view of the river, and a tall spire from an odd angle.

``It's not an adventure unless something goes wrong!''

We left the van and the truck at the Temple of Sinawava, returned to camp, and waited for the returning hikers, who were due back around 5 PM.  After that, we would all go to the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company in Springdale for dinner. We waited some more, and then the sun set ... and finally a ranger showed up and told us that our group had made it, but would be a bit delayed.  Every year something goes wrong.  Last year, one hiker broke an ankle.  This year, our Fearless Leader bruised his terribly.  We ended up with much later dinner at a Denny's in St. George, and those of us who could hang around the next day (we all went up to Cedar City and borrowed Fearless Leader's shower!) had dinner at the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company on Monday instead.

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