Friday, August 30, 2013

This is 'Merica - Zion National Park, Utah

Ok kids, this post has been a long time coming and ironically the only time I have had time to write this is right now, when I am on my current vacay in Nicaragua! So I guess that will be another month till you find out what shenanigans I am getting into over here in Central America : )

Anyway, to finish off from my last trip to Hawaii, I decided to do the batshit crazy thing and... go to Zion National Park with Thieny, Jason and several other of their friends including Blake and Laura.

To start with, Zion is in Utah and is about 2 hours northeast of Las Vegas.  You can take a bus from  Vegas to the nearest town which is called Hurricane (don't ask me why, I don't think there are hurricanes in Nevada. Or Utah.) Instead, I chose to do the crazy route, which also afforded me airline miles, by flying directly from Honolulu to Seattle, and then to Denver, where I joined up with Thieny and Jason and proceeded to drive about 12 HOURS to Utah. No, this was not the most direct method of getting there. But was it fun?  Well other than sitting on a plane for like 10 hours and then in a car for 12, the journey is half the fun, and why not spend some time roadtripping with friends??

 I get into Denver, Thieny picks me up, I conk out for a bit, then we leave.  We then drive for like, 7 hours before Jason, ever the outdoorsman, decides we will camp in BLM land for the night.  What is BLM land?  Bureau of Land Management.  It's public land that the government owns and apparently there is a ton of it out while you drive between Colorado and Utah.   So apparently you can just like, pull off the freeway and camp against a rock with your cars in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly what we did.

I am missing the photo, but Jason actually had GPS coordinates of a place he found on google earth.  Nevertheless, his method of camping in the middle of nowhere for some reason consists of placing a circle on a screenshot of Google Earth and then finding the GPS in the middle of the night somewhere in the Colorado mountains.  This is actually a photo of one of our campsites but I thought it was a good example of how ridiculous this is (or normal. I have no idea)

EDIT: Jason and Blake are bringing up how NORMAL it is to sleep behind a rock in the middle of nowhere. so i am now attaching the satellite photo, and GPS coordinates. In case anyone feels like going back there and sleeping behind a rock.


Inline image 1

So I must have been obscenely tired because I woke everyone up in the middle of the night snoring. Yep.  Thieny was like omg and I was horrified with myself.  lol.

The next morning we woke up and kept driving, and ended up stopping to eat breakfast in a small town called Richfield, Utah.

It was the 4th of July and we ended up getting a pretty nice view of the 4th of July Parade for the town in a little cafe!

Finally we make it to Zion.  Took some photos driving, and then did a short hike to Emerald Falls.

When we get to Emerald Falls, Jason scares everyone there by making it look like he's going to jump off this giant rock into a pool that's like, 3 feet deep.  After some gesturing and what looks like he's grabbing his crotch (bad moment when I took the photo), he doesn't and we carry on and hike back down.

Jason's friends are pilots and hang gliders, so we then ended up on some other BLM land where they were marking a landing spot for a while, but it was getting dark fast so after some um, urging by Thieny, we headed over to our campsite.  It was pretty dark so I have few pictures, but it was an obscenely hot night.  Something like 100 degrees in the middle of the night and the tent was stifling.  Apparently I only snore when I am extremely tired and don't have a pillow, so after rolling up my sleeping bag and using that, I am pleased to report that I didn't make a peep the next or following nights. Whew.  I was worried that was going to be a thing.

 Next day we have breakfast and take a hike to Angel's Landing. This is a BEAUTIFUL hike and really really high up.  It takes about 6 hours up and down.

From what I've read, at least 5-6 people have died on this hike.
  It is very high up, I think about 450m, and some portions of it are very narrow with only a chain for you to hold on to. 

And yes I hate heights, and yes, I was pretty scared once I finished taking this photo.

But the scenery was GORGEOUS and even though it as like 110 degrees F and I huffed and puffed with my intolerance for thin air, everyone was super supportive and we all made it up there!

 Go us!

After heading down, we prepared to camp for the night.  I want to interject here by saying that we were camping this weekend, which means that for this trip... NO SHOWERS.  Now, I don't really care about this.  I've camped through 5 countries in Africa for 30 days.  But in 110 degree heat in a desert, it's pretty dusty.  This is when we discovered that you can RENT a shower (genius) and they charge you... $5 for 7 minutes! Wow!  Of course we were cheap.  Which means that one or more of us may have like, shared a shower for $5 and timed ourselves at 3.5 minutes each.  I would take a picture of this but honestly you don't need to see a shower.  Just wanted to inform you though.

Now, somewhere between camping and hiking (I can't remember which day) we drove into Zion and found out that some campsites in the park opened up, which is way preferable to the site we were currently using.  We decided to snatch up a spot and move.  However, Jason and his friends were going to go hang gliding, and there was only Laura and me... and we were nice enough  to volunteer to move ALL our camping shite, like, 4 tents, coolers, everything.. from one campsite to another.

This sounds good until you realize just HOW MUCH STUFF PEOPLE BRING WHEN CAMPING.  Good god. I know you need a lot of it, but on the other hand... geez.  It was also like 110 F so... I wasn't really in the mood to be neat.

Jason and Blake packed their XTerras really well when we left Denver. It was like a puzzle piece.


  Then I packed it to move our stuff. 

 I am not an organized person. And this is what happened!

Laura and I barely fit everything into the car, it was hilarious : ) Then we all met up again and went out for some well deserved margaritas : )

Next day, we get up in our new campsite and head over to The Narrows, listed as one of Lonely Planet's top treks.

The Narrows is what is called a slot canyon.  There is water running through it and it looks like cliffs on both sides.  There is a danger of flash floods if it rains.  Luckily there was no rain this day and the water was pretty refreshing considering the heat.

It started off as a bit of a circus and a lot of people, but after a few hours of trekking... it got nicer. And then we hit a sort of dead end....

There was some climbing of logs involved, and then a mini waterfall which I took one look at and knew I wouldn't be able to climb up there. 

 No upper arm strength.  I hope the Crossfit I'm taking now makes up for this in the future.

But some of us made it up there! And I had to include this picture:

And a few others : )

Back to the hangliding. After all that moving and us cramming camping gear into one car, it turns out the group wasn't able to go that day, so they tried again this next day. Laura and I had some time to kill, so we first tried to find massages (all booked up) and then ended up at this weird frontier town tourist trap with a petting zoo.

We bought some carrots and then the alpacas were my best friend.

Then effed around in the store for a while. 

This store was so kitschy it had cassette tapes in it! I would have loved this place as a kid!

 After this, we went to sleep, got up and drove back to Denver, where
1) Jason decides to give me a creepy hug (he is also wearing Thieny's new pink hiking shorts) - he KNOWS I hate hugging people!

and 2) I stayed the night in Denver and then flew to LA (getting stuck in the Denver airport from the repercussions of the Korean Air flight crash in SFO, so it took me the whole effing day).

All in all, AWESOME trip. Got to hang out with Thieny and Jason,   I totally recommend going to Zion for the beautiful scenery. If camping isn't your thing there are plenty of accommodations right outside the park for you to enjoy, something for everyone.

Next post... Nicaragua!

1 comment:

  1. If you are looking for a spectacular outdoor getaway, consider Zion National Park, one of nature's most majestic and pristine places!

    Zion National Park Camping