Thursday, June 30, 2016

Southwest Trip: Zion Part One

We were headed to Zion National Park. I wanted to do a short list of things on this trip, and they were:

1. Devil's Garden at Arches
2. The bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns
3. The Narrows hike at Zion

Everything else we do is based on what kids seem interested in, with a little push from me because otherwise they would only play on screens in the camper. Well, not Brooklyn—she would listen to Rick Riordan books and go to ranger talks. We are making kids at least try to complete junior ranger books at each park. And other than that, I'm trying to make things flexible because I know I am extra. I know I can push. I know I can be loud and have my opinion win. So I'm trying to ease back on this trip. Because I want my kids to keep liking me when I'm old.

So anyway, we did the Devil's Garden hike at Arches. I stood in Partition Arch. I saw Landscape Arch with my eyes. And so forth. Carlsbad is still in front of us. But Zion is now.

We took our time getting to the campground, knowing that tomorrow would be Zion, not today. We stopped at a state park and learned more about the Fremont People, the people who lived here from about 600-1300. Great petroglyphs. Lots of information. A museum. Brooklyn was happy. London bought a bunny, a stuffed animal I mean, and so she was happy too.

We got to the campground, another nice place with WIFI and a pool, you know, the important things, and looked at the sky. Checked the forecast. We drove to the outfitter I had been talking with back in January when I planned this trip.

We walked in and talked to a gal my sister's age about the Narrows hike.

“We have decided, all of us here at the company, not to rent out gear tonight for that.” She went on to tell us about the danger of flash floods and lightning. I stopped her.

“Thank you for being frank,” I said. “Thank you for not having it be my decision.”

“Thank you for not pushing the issue and saying you were going to take the risk. All I can do is give you advice and rent you gear. All the park service does is protect the environment. You have to watch out for you.” She looked down at Niles and London sitting on a bench. “It isn't worth it.

She gave me a brochure about what to do in Zion on a rainy day, which was actually good information. We went on the bus to the park, which felt a lot like going to the zoo when we got there. Everyone walks in due to the fact that no cars are allowed in the canyon anymore (this is more strict than Yosemite and Bryce, for instance, that have buses and cars). Standing in line to get the junior ranger booklets and continue to plan for tomorrow, I listened to the NOAA warning sound go off in the visitor center. They announced that a flash flood warning was in effect.

They closed the Narrows and all slot canyon trails.

I looked at Bixby.

“Better part of valor.”

I focused in on the couple in front of me, young, blond, probably Californian based on their t-shirts, with a 4 or 5 year old girl between us. I'm going to name them Cindi and Tom. Their conversation went like this:

Cindi: Flash flood warning...
Tom: Not a problem.
Cindi: But they just announced it, they made it so clear.
Tom: They have to do that. It's not a thing. You can see those things coming, you just get out of the way.
Cindi: You think it's bullshit?
Tom: You didn't have to put it that way, but yes.

I looked at the little girl in braids between them. I realized what reckless meant and realized that no, I'm not reckless after all. I do stupid things sometimes, and I don't care much about my own safety, but I have these little people who are counting on my wisdom and discretion to essentially keep them alive.

And I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. 

I'm not going to do the Narrows hike. 

I will never do the Narrows hike, most likely, since I can't see myself coming back this way again. 

And that is all right.


  1. People believe they are gods. It is frightening.

  2. And in all of this, my favorite line is "Because I want my kids to keep liking me when I'm old." :)