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Zion National Park Grand Canyon

8th July 2010

A Climb to Hidden Canyon and Meeting an Eminent Scientist

Panorama of Court of the Patriarchs      (please use scroll bar)

    I made an early start to the morning trying to catch up with my blog. Once that was out of the way I headed to the local market to buy some more trail mix and spicy beef jerky, then took the bus to Weeping Rock.
    This was the starting point of the Hidden Canyon Trail. By the time I got there the sun was high in the sky, and it was a degree warmer than yesterday. Signs at the trailhead showed that early settlers had rigged an aerial cable way from the mesa down to the trailhead on the valley floor. The settlers needed timber for their buildings, but it was taking two weeks to deliver from their supplies in Arizona. However, there was a ready supply of timber on the top of the mesa. The cable way reduced the timber delivery time from two weeks to 2.5 mins, a somewhat wee improvement.
Entrance to Hidden Canyon
    I began the tortuous climb up the paved switchbacks up to the Hidden Canyon. I kept a good pace but knew I would soon be taking liquids on board sooner rather than later due to the ferocious heat.
    At one of the switchbacks I met a couple, Dana and Mimi, who were taking a break in the shade of an overhang. I stopped for a chat. I learned from Dana that he was a production manager for a company that manufactured trumpets, a firm he had been with for 25 years. The company must have been of some repute since they exported a lot of their instruments far and wide; indeed there was a strong demand for their instruments from British brass bands.
    They were doing a three week tour, that was Dana's maximum leave entitlement per year due to American companies zeal for keeping their workers' noses to the grindstone. He told me his company had been taken over by another outfit, and one of the perks for the workers was to lose one week of their annual leave entitlement. Capitalism still rules.
Hidden Canyon Water and Wind Etchings
    We continued the climb together, and eventually the paved trail gave way to a short sandy section before tackling sections across the cliff faces on narrow ledges. Occasionally the ledge inclines were quite steep, and chains had been provided both as an aid and for those of a nervous disposition; the drops were sheer.
    Walking across a cliff face really brought me close to the sandstone (a slightly different experience to climbing up it as on the Angels Landing Trail). These sandstone monoliths were reported to be the largest in the world. When they were formed from giant sand dunes 120 million years ago, the dunes were 3000' deep. Sand dunes in the Sahara Desert were 200-300' deep.
Deeper into Hidden Canyon
    Walking with the couple slowed my natural pace down, but as with Doug and Taylor the previous day, it did me good. I was beginning to realise I needed to slow down and enjoy more. Doing one hike after another over a 12 hour stint was a challenge, but the enjoyment was starting to flag with that approach.
    We eventually reached the entrance to the Hidden canyon, having exchanged pleasantries with other hikers on the way up. The start of the canyon was not a slot canyon as in the classic sense, more of a ravine. It may have narrowed down a few miles further in. We started walking into the dry but vegetated canyon, but it very soon became a clamber rather than a walk. People coming down the canyon said the clambering only got worse the further in you went.
Dana and Mimi Contemplating the Quick Way Down
    We made our way in for perhaps 80m before deciding there was not much to be gained by persevering further. Besides, Mimi's father was ensconced in a hotel back in Springdale and she wanted to re-establish phone contact with him again to check he was alright. On a more fundamental level, the pair was also feeling hungry after their heroic climb. Mimi explained that her father had to be kick started motivation wise in the mornings; he had reached the age where he preferred the easy life of lounging around. Their policy was to cram in activities for themselves early in the day, and cajole dad into an outing later in the day. However, they were adamant that every few days he would be galvanised into action for a morning adventure.
    Dad had been a renowned scientist. He had specialised in physical anthropometrics, performing statistical studies on the distribution of human heights, particularly jet fighter pilots, and then in conjunction with ergonomics, had designed pilot seats so as to minimise pilot body movement during flights. This had led on to his involvement in the space programmes, and he had designed the lunar module seats. Being from an engineering background, I would have loved to sit down with him over a few coffees or beers going over his design philosophies.
    We retraced our steps down the cliffs, the downward journey inducing a twinge in one of Mimi's knees. We also miraculously found Dana's hat which he had lost on the way up.
Me, Mimi and Dana after the Hike
    Mimi had been a teacher, and I related that my wife had been a teacher too, and proceeded to tell the couple the woes within the UK educational establishment. It seemed things weren't any better in the US either, though teachers were much more handsomely paid than their UK counterparts. Mimi had been ousted out of her job because of her lack of fluency in Spanish. Crumbs, we had multiracial schools in the UK where there were at least 80 different languages spoken by the pupils.
    We moved onto politics, and the couple admitted their embarrassment regarding their previous president. I asked what they thought about Obama, and was taken aback when they said he was a good guy. I mentioned that they were the first Americans I had met who had a good word to say about the man. The conversation became hushed, and their view was that people were not aware that there was already a fair amount of socialism within the country. There was an undercurrent of bigotry in the country, and people chose to listen to what they wanted to hear. I shan't elucidate any further on the matter here, some things are best left confidential. However, I was starting to get a more balanced view of the American approach to politics. For good measure I gave them my dim view of UK political chaos.
    The couple had a son and daughter in their twenties, and of course the usual debts accumulated by further education of offspring. Our two countries had a lot in common when it came to offspring.
    We travelled back on the bus together until the couple alighted at Zion Lodge to grab some food. We said our farewell and wished each other a safe onward journey. I carried on and jumped off at the Court of the Patriarchs to take some photos. Here towering figures of the Old Testament held court over Birch Creek Canyon and that section of the Virgin River. In 1916 Frederick Vining Fisher, a Methodist minister, gave the religious names to the peaks. Today, it was not hard to imagine how the grandeur of the view could inspire reverence.
    I then proceeded to the Zion Human History Museum to learn a little of the history of the canyon and park, and also take in a 30 min. introductory video of the park; yes, watching the introductory video on the eve of my departure! Ancestral Puebloans that lived in the area were known by archaeologists as the Virgin River Branch of the Kayenta Anasazi. For various reasons their population declined about 1200. Archaeologists dated the Southern Piaute here as early as 1100. The group most associated with Zion and the vicinity was the Kaibab Band, who still lived in the region today.
    Once back at the campsite, I took another swim in the river again to cool off and hopefully remove some of the day's grime. I met the two sisters I saw there yesterday. They had walked The Narrows today, and were intending doing Angels Landing in the morning. Amazingly, I saw a couple washing their clothes in the river too. Once cleaned and dried I caught a bus to Springdale to seek out WiFi access.
    It was near the park entrance when I bumped into Dana and Mimi again, with dad. He seemed a tall, proud man, still full of beans but not as sprightly as he would have been in former years. We shook hands and I joked with dad about how I had already heard all about him. He told me he had visited the UK on three separate occasions: once to attend a NATO meeting at one of the Cambridge colleges, one to visit a RAF development establishment on the outskirts of London, and once on vocation in London, taking in some tennis at Wimbledon to boot. They were taking dada up to the Temple of Sinawava for a stroll by the river. I'm sure he enjoyed it after the initial protests. We shook hands again, and repeated our farewells, and went our separate ways. I had enjoyed their company.
    I was successful in finding WiFi access, and updated my website and exchanged emails. My son had been busy organising the itinerary for when we would be traveling together. The latest addition - we would be doing some sky diving from 15,000'. I was surprised, but was already looking forward to it.
    Reading the emails brought it home to me that I really missed my kids. My grandson was also now walking with the aid of a baby walker. I was missing it all.
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Zion National Park Grand Canyon

Uploaded from Grand Canyon North Rim General Stores on 10/07/10 at 11:50

Last updated 10.7.2010