It was the prospect of camping and hiking in Zion National Park that decided it for both of us: Joan and I would embark on this two week journey in her blue Prius bookended by two conferences, one the Crones Counsel (see this and this) in St. George, Utah, and the other the StarworksUSA UFO conference in Laughlin, Nevada. Besides our “conference clothes,” we would both bring trail clothes and Joan would “outfit” us with tent, cooler, sleeping bags, mats, plus wine, other goodies — thank you Joan!
Zion in November. Zion as the leaves turn gold. Neither of us had ever been there, though we were both familiar with the landforms of southern Utah that show themselves both from the air and from I15 all the way down from Salt Lake City to the state line, Arizona, and on down to the southern tip of Nevada.
Zion is one of the smallish canyons carved into what’s known as the Colorado Plateau, said to be “easily the most colorful area of comparable size on earth.”
The Colorado Plateau is a physiographic province encompassing 130,000 square miles of the Four Corners states, including Utah’s southeastern quarter. Arguably, it is the least-tamed country remaining in the lower forty-eight states.
It is a land of outstanding natural beauty and ecological diversity. The high, semi-arid region is actually a gigantic basin studded with a variety of landforms, ranging from 5,000 to 11,000 feet in elevation. There are rugged plateaus, slot canyons, mountains, river gorges with whitewater rapids, the Grand Canyon, and nearly every conceivable type of desert landscape. Rodney D. Millar and Joan Degiorgio wrote in June 1986 in the state of Utah’s proposal to designate the region as a World Heritage Site: “It is easily the most colorful area of comparable size on the earth.”
The part of Zion National Park that people, including ourselves, usually visit, is a canyon 15 miles long and half a mile deep, cut through by the Virgin River. While there, Joan and I hiked perhaps half of its trails in four days. Our nights were spent in the campground near the entrance to the park — except for the first night, when the park was full, and we were directed to the top of the canyon, where, in a campground with not just a firepit but showers! (no showers in the park campgrounds), we about froze our buns off, waking up from whatever light sleep each of us did manage to get at first light to find ice condensed inside the tent! Luckily, that was the only scary time. (Temperatures at the bottom of the canyon were maybe 20° warmer. Why? cold air settles, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s the canyon walls, heating up during the day, releasing heat at night?)
The rest of it was magical. Perfect weather, no mishaps or blisters, and terrific Tasty Bites (Indian food warmed up in boiling water over rice also so warmed)
for dinner over campfires after dark every evening and then, exhausted, off to bed in the tiny tent. We planned to tell stories during those long evening hours, but I usually nodded off too quickly. Since the sun sets early this season, and arrives above us late in the morning in a canyon — that meant a lot of down time. Like 14 hours of darkness? Having experienced this taste of what it’s really like to live exposed to elements and night/day changes in winter and no electric lights, it’s more than obvious to me now why indigenous peoples sit around campfires and tell stories during “the dreamtime.”
I present a slide show here, in no particular order, and I’m not even going to give the trails names, just display a hodge-podge of elemental glory, as it is lodged now, in memory. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Zion National Park.
Joan and I also want to thank the Civilian Conservation Corps —
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established by Congress on March 31, 1933, provided jobs for young, unemployed men during the Great Depression. Over its 9-year lifespan, the CCC employed about 3 million men nationwide. The CCC made valuable contributions to forest management, flood control, conservation projects, and the development of state and national parks, forests, and historic sites. In return, the men received the benefits of education and training, a small paycheck, and the dignity of honest work.
And we ask, no, we plead: can we not resurrect this way of “getting the economy going,” by putting people to work for the public good, rather than as now, expanding the militarization of everything for the “good” (profit) of the banksters and weapons manufacturers while depleting Earth and Earthlings and having the nerve to call it a “jobs program”? As if there are no alternatives?
What happened to us, that we continue to allow this deeply tragic and immoral use of our individual and collective time, energy, and resources, rather than transform, right now, the whole world, from war to peace?
In any case, here they are, images from Zion National Park, as taken on my iphone and Joan’s ipad over a period of four days in mid-November, 2014.
So there you have it. Our earnest, but ultimately, pathetic attempts to “capture” some of the infinitely intense magic and magnificence of this tiny sliver of our home planet, Mother Earth.
May Her abundant blessings nourish and direct our efforts to help her regenerate from our foolish, short-sighted, selfish, ways.