Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Down by the Riverside

Monday June 20, 2011
Zion National Park
South Campground Site 121

Out running the Pa’rus trail again this morning.
I really do love this trail and listening to
the song of the water’s rapids and of the birds
in the morning.  In the 50’s this morning
so it was perfect weather for it.

Spent most of the rest of the day down by
the river.  The Virgin River is just gorgeous
and I think it may have just made this
my favorite National Park so far.  The Grand
Canyon was Grand for sure but had a few
too many folks on the South rim for my taste.
Although everyone tells me for that reason I’ll
love the North Rim.  We’ll be there Thursday-Sunday
of this week so I’ll let you know.

I mostly read in my beach chair by the river today.
You can just see the silver top of my chair in
part of the picture.  Boy what a location.
Look at that water.  Look at those rocks.

Virgin River  last time 003

The sun is shining so strongly on the water
that it is hard to see the rapids in this shot.
But they are there and the music they
play was wonderful to read by.

Virgin River  last time 007

Seems a thing to do here at the river is
to make little rock walls to create sandy walking places.
I guess folks clear all the rocks out of them and
pile them up around the edges.  I’ve seen them
at each of the 5 or 6 different river front sites
I’ve plopped my chair down in.

Virgin River  last time 010

I haven’t had a lot of reading time
until just lately.  We’ve been too busy.
So I’m really enjoying going through a
book or two a week like I have done in the past.

Between my two stays on the riverfront today,
I took a walk over to the Visitor’s Center bookstore
to check it out thoroughly and see if there was
anything I just had to read.  It’s a very nice store
with lots of books about the history and geology of Zion and
some on Bryce. 

They have great postcards, clothing, stuffed animals -
the big horned sheep was my favorite.  Should
have taken his picture. 

I did take a picture of the
only book I found that I would like to read.  But
because I have to give all these books away ultimately,
(weight factors you know)
I have a price limit per book and this one was over
that.   Guess I’ll put it on my “holiday gift” list.  :-)

Angel's Landing 099

If you'd like to read this book description and can't,
click the picture to enlarge it.

Angel's Landing 100

David “noodled” around.  Came down to the
river for a bit.  Then after dinner he went
to the Watchman Campground program on
flash floods.
Here is his summary.

The ranger talk tonight was on flash floods in Zion
and fortunately this one was in the Watchman campground
and did not require an extra 40 minutes for the bus rides to and fro. 

It was however a longer walk than
I expected (about 20 minutes)
and I did not know the best way
to get from where we are
now camped to there
so I got to explore on foot
- something I have always enjoyed
ever since I was a young boy in southwest Oklahoma
where I would just walk around town
to see what there was in places I
hadn't been before.

So why go to this talk?? 
To see the footage of flash floods of course. 

The young ranger was not a great speaker
however she did know her topic and
besides the pictures,
she did have a first hand account
of a major flash flood on video.
This was very cool to see
as a very ordinary little stream about 8 feet wide
and no more than a foot deep
had a surge of brown sticks and surface debris
(bark, leaves, topsoil?) 
that came down first standing about a foot higher
than the normal water level
and pushing downstream by an ever increasing
volume of water and larger debris behind it. 
In a matter of seconds the calm stream
was transformed into a deadly rush of debris
including large tree trunks rushing by at an alarming rate. 

Other pictures showed what happened
to some of the bridges after the water came down. 
Incredible and scary.

She also had some gripping accounts of folks
hiking in slot canyons
who were not prepared for a flash flood. 
In one case, only one of 13 survived. 
In the other case, she read the first hand account
from another ranger at Zion
who had been hiking with friends
in a slot canyon of Zion when an unexpected thunderstorm
suddenly darkened the small bit of sky they could see
from down at the bottom of such a canyon. 
As a ranger she knew what this meant,
and after the obligatory salutation to the almighty,
turned & headed out as fast as possible. 

The question was, could they possibly make it out in time? 
Hiking in a slot canyon requires canyoneering,
meaning scrambling over obstacles that have washed down
and been lodged in your way in the slot so you must climb over
and often time repel down the other side if it is
too tall or steep to scramble down. 
You can see the problem this might create
for a hasty retreat. 

So what she determined was that
she could not get out in time,
so the next option was to get high enough
to be above the water. 
Fortunately they reached a point where there was
cascaded rubble that they were able to climb to reach
a small rock ledge just barely deep enough
to support them, and there they spent the night,
shivering and cold in the rain waiting for the water
to go down, hungry but alive. 
They all made it out then next morning.

Take home lesson: 
never hike in a slot canyon if there is
do not hike in a slot canyon on a lovely
unseasonably warm winter day. 
The snow will melt and has no
where else to go but down
since there is little soil here
and the rocks do not absorb much water if any.

Another thing to watch out for is
the freak snow storm late in the Spring. 
Soon as the sun comes out,
that snow comes down just as fast as rain
although the sun is shining and the sky may be blue. 

Think about it.

Enough said. 
I was listening
- hope you got the message too.

Moving back to Kanab tomorrow for a couple days
to charge up the batteries, do the laundry
and grocery shopping.
Then off to the North Rim.

Sure am sorry to leave Zion.
I could stay here at least a month if
they’d let me.  :-)  But the limit
is 14 days and that’s only if you are
smart enough to make your reservations
far in advance so you can get a spot for
that long.

Maybe NEXT time!!!


  1. Maybe it's time to consider a Kindle or one of the other e-readers? You won't have to give away any of your books again :)
    We love our Kindles.

  2. Spending the day reading next to the river sounds just heavenly. Enjoy!

    David, I definitely would not want to be in a slot canyon during a flash flood, so thanks for the info.


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