Living Outdoors

I basically live outdoors. Not literally – because I have a metal container with insulation and windows and a door. But the weather has a much greater impact on me now than when I lived in a bricks and sticks (that’s RV’er language for a fixed house, lol).

The Zion National Park area is like a dream – it is constantly changing with the light, it is beautiful, inspirational, and it is hard to reconcile with an urban reality that occupies my brain. The landscape is a feast for the eyes and soul. What rudely awakens me from my dream is the weather. More about that in a bit. I scored a great Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site for the week. I mentioned that in the last post and here is a little video of the location:

After a great night boondocking, I awaken to a weather report for flash floods. I call a friend who used to LIVE here – rough life, eh? – and ask what I need to know since I have zero experience with this landscape or flash floods. We agree that this is primarily for areas that sit next to water near ground level and for those hiking in the park. I see the rain forming over the park in the distance and decide today is not the day to go there.

Next day is great and it’s park day for me! Up and out early and hit the trail. Well first I park in Springdale and catch their free shuttle. It’s free because it costs so much to park! Then walk into the park and catch their free shuttle to one of 8 stops that concludes with the Temple of Sinawava. That’s where I’m headed. It’s also where you head into The Narrows. I’m listening to the recording on the bus tell me about all the different features of the park while anxiously waiting to start my hike. I have my backpack with my lunch and snack, water bottles, phone, journal and pen. I’m out of the bus following the herd of people to the walking path and we begin. The setting is high canyon walls of red and white and vegetation that runs along the meandering Virgin River. We are going deeper into the canyon where there are no roads – only hikers and climbers. I’m on a mission to see what all the fuss is about in The Narrows.

This is truly an eclectic hoard of people. Dozens of walkers of all ages from kids to great grandmas. All races and countries of origin, many different languages being spoken, and all on the same mission. Some people are already in their wet gear – waterproof shoes and pants, others are like me – day walkers with nothing professional that says, “I know what I”m doing.” The walk to the end of River Walk is just over a mile. It’s up and down, and rated “easy” by the Park Service. That’s a relative term, you understand. As we cover more distance the temperature drops and I wished I had my fleece. Sun filters down on the trees near the river (which is really more like a big stream in scale). I look up now and again and realize the enormity of this place, the dramatic landscape defies accurate definition.

At the end of the trail most of the walkers are making their preparation to enter the water – ankle deep here, or are exiting the water after their hike. The Narrows is where the river goes up into the canyon farther and farther and the space gets tighter and tighter. The only space to walk is in the water, hence the waterproof gear. The water temp is about 55 degrees. Walking in water on slippery rocks is best done with rubberized shoes or boots and a walking stick. I’m observing two guys who are barefoot trying to shake their limbs in order to regain feeling. They have just come out of the water barefoot and in shorts and tees. They had hiked into the water for several miles with no gear. The simple minds of youth. Whole families are wading in, groups of hikers that have posed for an obligatory selfie and then whoo-hooed into the water. Two barbies are gearing up in pink climbing shoes – rubberized ankle high shoes that will grip the rocks in the water. Their ankles are bare from the end of their yoga leggings to the tops of these booties. More power to you, ladies!

I got down to the waters edge and watched the people trudge in. The river and rock curve up ahead and you can’t see what’s next. You have to be in the water for that view. I decline but am inspired by their intrepid fortitude.

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The rest of the park is equally magnificent, but it is designed for backpackers and climbers who are willing to go on 3-15 mile hikes into the wilderness. Maybe another time. I see more sights and do more short walks, eat my lunch at a picnic table and eventually make my way back to my campsite feeling very, very tired but confident because I tackled the park in my best way!

The next day I awake to another weather advisory – a severe wind warning. What? Sustained winds of 25 to 30 mph and gusts to 50. Ok. I’m sitting here out in the open. Where will these winds blow? Well that night as my Airstream rocked and rolled, clanked and gurgled, and the wind HOWLED, I can tell you that the wind blew right over me. In the early evening I made a reservation for the next night at a nearby campground which was much more sheltered. This wind was expected to last for two nights and 3 days. One night was enough thank you. I hated to leave my beautiful boondock spot and nearly didn’t. When I tried to get out of the Airstream to start hitching up, I couldn’t get the door open. Had to wait for the wind to die down.  I hid behind my truck several times to dodge the sand in hard gusts. I wrapped the cat up, got her in the truck and made my way, gingerly on the rutted “road” towards the main drag. My new campground put me on the river’s edge and was very sheltered. The wind was barely noticeable and I got some much needed sleep.

I’ve been dodging rain, snow, and now wind. Earlier in the summer it was extreme heat and fire smoke. The thin pieces of aluminum that separate me from these elements makes me highly attuned to weather conditions. It’s all part of the adventure!

1 Comment

  1. I watched a documentary film on Zion and saw people hiking through the water at the Narrows – just as you described! How cool to see the real thing!

    Like

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