Tag Archives: Zion National Park

Staircase to Heaven, Part 3: Photos

Happy New Year!

Below are some photos from the Grand Staircase area of the Colorado Plateau.  Plant photos to come soon, and then, finally, words.

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Altar of Sacrifice, Zion National Park

Altar of Sacrifice, Zion National Park

Trail to Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

Trail to Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park

Zion near the East Entrance

Zion near the East Entrance

Wahweap Creek, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Wahweap Creek, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Wahweap Hoodoos. GSENM

Wahweap Hoodoos, GSENM

Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite, GSENM

Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite, GSENM

dinosaur track, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite

dinosaur track, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite

Vermillion Cliffs, Kanab, GSEENM

Vermillion Cliffs, Kanab, GSENM

 Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

Southeastern Utah

Southeastern Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

 

Staircase to Heaven, Part 2

Colorado River (1973): Jackass Rapids/Jackass in the Rapids *

In the summer of 1973, one of my former eighth grade students (from Page, AZ) invited me to hike down to the Colorado River from near the Bitter Springs Arizona Highway Department outpost where she lived. This would be a walk down to the first rapids within what is generally considered the beginning of the Grand Canyon, not far below Navajo Bridge that spans Marble Canyon. My student said the locals called the area Jackass Rapids. I was a fair-to-middling red rock hiker back then, but it took fancy footwork to keep up with the sure-footed young girl. As my memory of the day comes into clearer focus, I think this trip might have been the girl’s answer to the environmental living elective (see Grand Staircase to Heaven, Part 1). She had not participated in the class, perhaps because, being of local pioneer stock, she already knew much more than I did about the local environment, or maybe it was just that she was already in band during the elective hour.

In any case, the sky was perfect blue and the sun was scorching and I already had sunburn from some recent hikes in Zion National Park. When we finally got down to the Colorado River, I did what I always did back then—I jumped in the water. The air temperature was probably in the mid-90s, the river was around 40°, and my back was already burnt. The resulting pain was intense and I felt like I was the jackass the place was named after. For several years afterwards my arms carried the marks of the sunburn and nowadays in the shower, I wince at cold water on my back. My memories of those Arizona and Utah times, though, remain bright: sky blue, rock red, pine green, and Colorado River brown.

sky blue, North Rim, Arizona

sky blue, North Rim, Arizona

 

rock red, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Uta

rock red, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah

pine green, Singletree Campground, Fishlake National Forest, Utah

pine green, Singletree Campground, Fishlake National Forest, Utah

Colorado River brown, Kings Bottom Campground (near Moab, Utah)

Colorado River brown, Kings Bottom Campground (near Moab, Utah)

*(adapted from Losing It: Deconstructing a Life, unpublished work © Lynda Terrill, all rights reserved)

I Need to Stay Close to the Ground

Some days, weeks, years,  and decades seem difficult.

I think, at heart, I am a simple person.  I believe what Scout told Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird, ” I think there is just one kind of folks. Folks.” I am having a hard time holding to that ideal, or, more precisely, getting the world to accept it.  So what I do is cling to the ground to help preserve my sanity (or at least a bit of equilibrium). My ground includes the bugs, the bindweed, and the first tomatoes in my garden. More fundamentally, though,  I am thinking about the wild (more or less) places I have been lucky enough to hike in.

I had been planning to write a post about the hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service. For a  few minutes earlier today,  I thought the topic was too light for this day, week, month, and year of violence, ethnocentrism, demagoguery, and hatred.  I dropped that thought almost immediately. I believe also what Thoreau said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

Enough words. Below are a few photos of some of my favorite places within the National Parks system. May we have peace (I still believe in that ideal, too).

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Widforss Trail, North Rim, Grand Canyon

Widforss Trail, North Rim, Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

fritillary, Yosemite

fritillary, Yosemite

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument

Needles Overlook, Canyons

Needles Overlook, Canyonlands

Chisos Basin, Big Bend

Chisos Basin, Big Bend

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Lava Beds

Lava Beds

Road Trip 2014: The Road Goes…

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say

J.R.R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, UT

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, UT

 

I am here to tell you that, just as Bilbo said, the road does go ever on and on. Furthermore, as he implied (see above), this road goes on both literally and figuratively.

In our travels I sometimes wear a maroon hooded sweater that makes me look like one of the dwarfs in The Hobbit (not, I note, at all like a hobbit wearing a hooded Elven cloak from Lorien).

maroon hooded sweater with orange knapsack

maroon hooded sweater with orange knapsack

Before I go farther on this path: Yes, I am one of those The Lord of the Rings junkies, common in my generation. I first read the trilogy when I was seventeen and I have read it at least eight times since. Two of Tom’s and my happiest parenting times were when we read LOTR aloud first to our older children and then later to our youngest.* I am going on about all of this because, as a supposed  “literature” person, I feel a bit defensive about reading the trilogy eight times instead of ever wanting to go back to The Magic Mountain or In the Heart of the Heart of the Country.

I am speaking literally and figuratively here:

  • I always traveled with a dear companion, who, day after day, kindly hurt my broken wrist–my P.T. exercises–so I would heal, and then warmed my side of the winter bed for me.

    Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, UT

    Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, UT

  • Sometimes the road was cold and lonely. I remembered the dead and worried about the living.

    winter road

    winter road

  • Sometimes the trail was alight with the sunlight glinting on the wings of hundreds of butterflies freshly transformed in the pine woods of the high country. I didn’t manage to capture a photo of this, but the magic remains within us.

    Glacier Trail, Great Basin National Park

    Glacier Trail, Great Basin National Park

  • Sometimes the path seemed dangerous—high and winding and steep—but I think it was only the fear within me.
LaVerkin Creek Trail, Zion National Park, UT

LaVerkin Creek Trail, Zion National Park, UT

  • Sometimes we joined family and old friends along the road or met new friends–warmth and safety amid the cold, the heat, and the winding road.

*In my family, I am famous for always crying over the death of Boromir. I want to be a hobbit—merry, strong, and steadfast—but I am more like the frail man of Gondor (inside, of course, Boromir was a doughty warrior on the outside).

Beach Road, Meher Spiritual Center, Myrtle Beach, SC

Beach Road, Meher Spiritual Center, Myrtle Beach, SC

More to come, I think.

Observations, Photos

Hello again: For three weeks I’ve been trying unsuccessfully (until today) to write a new post for this blog. I could blame my lack of production on limited access to Internet or (sometimes) even electricity, but that is not where blame lies.  No, the blame lies in my wanting to condense my recent travels and experiences into aphorisms. I have wanted to tell you that I have been living close to the ground, that I am being here now, and that I would rather be a forest than a street. (see, in order, Lao Tzu, Baba Ram Dass, and Paul Simon).  I am beginning to think that it is a bit ironic, not to say pompous, to try to distill into handy phrases my attempts to live more within the present.  Instead, today, I am going to write down a few observations from the last several weeks and share some photos.

Observations:

About identifying flora, fauna, and geologic formations: I am less strict with myself now than in previous times.  That is, if I see some kind of aster, say, I will allow myself to check it off in my flower guide even if I am not 100% sure of the species or sub-species name.  Or, if we thought we saw a western meadowlark, I allow myself to mark it off in the Peterson’s A Field Guide to Western Birds. My copy is over forty years old, falling apart, and now there’s even an app for identifying birds on your smart device—I might as well mark up the guide now.  When I am dead and gone, I don’t think anyone will be inspecting my book to see whether I made any inaccurate identifications.  Re the geologic formations: if I think a layer of rock is likely Moenkopi Formation, I say to Tom and myself, “I think that layer is likely Moenkopi Formation.”

Asters, Kirk Creek, Los Padres National Forest, March 28, 2013

Asters, Kirk Creek, Los Padres National Forest, March 28, 2013

Capitol Reef National Park, March 6, 2013

Capitol Reef National Park, March 6, 2013

A Field Guide to Western Birds

A Field Guide to Western Birds

On tolerance for risk: While I have always been quite risk averse (read: overly cautious, chicken, etc.), this tendency seems to be intensifying. My husband and I love traveling where no one else is around.  On this trip, we’ve spent days on empty roads and deserted campgrounds. We love being by ourselves with the beauty and the silence and the maybe meadowlarks…but. Get us on a muddy hill in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and we turn tail (slowly, carefully, in 4-wheel drive mode) and go back to a more civilized campsite.

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, March 11, 2013

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, March 11, 2013

About our vehicle: We drive a Ford F-150 EcoBoost with a Hallmark (Ft. Lupton, Colorado) Guanella camper. So far, our truck camper has proven to be a yare craft.

Lava Beds National Monument, April 8, 2013

Lava Beds National Monument, April 8, 2013

About bodies of water: About camping at Big Sur—I don’t have the words.  Still, it’s clear to me that I love lakes and rivers more than the ocean. I grew up on a Michigan lake and the voices of the frogs, the calls of the red-winged blackbirds, and the low sounds by the shore are music for my soul.

Big Sur, March 29, 2013

Big Sur, March 29, 2013

Regarding the tastiness of food while hiking: For decades my friends and I have laughed about how good the Vienna sausages tasted below the rim in the Grand Canyon and how toothsome the Gerber’s blueberry buckle was in the Kolob backcountry of Zion. At least this one aphorism stands: just about anything tastes delicious when you’re hiking.  Nothing tastes better than whole wheat bread, peanut butter and (Art’s homemade) jelly sandwiches, accompanied by some carrots, chips, hummus, and clementines, washed down with water.

Lunch, almost finished, Chesler Park, The Needles, Canyonlands, March 3, 2013

Lunch, almost finished, Chesler Park, The Needles, Canyonlands, March 3, 2013

Concerning flexibility: Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my physical and mental flexibility (or lack thereof). However, I think these are enough observations for today.  More on flexibility next time, but now, here are some photos.

Photos:

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon Pine

Flowers, Arroyo Seco, Ventana Wilderness

Flowers, Arroyo Seco, Ventana Wilderness

Gull along Big Sur

Gull along Big Sur

Virgin River beach

Virgin River beach

Presidio, San Francisco

Presidio, San Francisco

Lava Beds Overview

Lava Beds Overview

Snake River Bluffs near The Oregon Trail

Snake River Bluffs near The Oregon Trail

Eel River Campground, Mendocino National Forest

Eel River Campground, Mendocino National Forest

Looking for the Thunderbird

snow 12.19.12We’re having the first snowstorm of the season today in Denver and that’s a good thing.  We’ve had so much drought and so many fires that we need all the precipitation we can get. Right now, though, I’m mostly worrying about getting in the car and driving out to pick up my husband at the airport.  They put the new airport a million miles (24 from our place) out on the eastern plains and, after living in the Washington, DC area for 25 years, I am snow driving averse. So I am sitting here obsessively checking flight updates, waiting for the sheets to dry, listening to Judy Collins radio on Pandora, writing, and indulging in a bit of nostalgia.  Right now, I have been listening to “Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall.” Before that I heard John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” and K.D. Lang’s version of “Hallelujah.”  I’m waiting for a sign to see whether I should drive or tell Tom to get a taxi. I’m not a good snow driver now, but it wasn’t always that way.

In 1972-1973 I taught eighth grade literature in the (then) little boom town of Page, Arizona. Each week I struggled to make it through to Friday afternoon.  I was prepared, though.  Thursday night I would gas up my Volkswagen Squareback at the Circle K, put my bag in the car and be ready to head out of town right after school the next day.  About every other weekend, I would drive up 386 miles to Salt Lake City to visit Tom.  Other weekends, I would just head out anywhere away from town.  Lucky for me, anywhere and everywhere outside of Page was beautiful beyond any words I might try to use here.

West Temple, Zion National Park

West Temple, Zion National Park

Decision: Okay, I will finish this story later.  I am going to try to drive out to the airport. If I find the roads too bad, I will turn back, but, at least then I won’t feel like a superannuated chicken. If I used to be able to drive 386 miles in the snow to see Tom, I should hope I could still manage 24.

Result: The roads weren’t that bad, the wait for Tom to clear customs wasn’t too long, and the view of the Front Range on the drive back to Denver was worth the earlier ice and slush.

Back to the story: One snowy Friday afternoon in December (I’m back in 1972 now), I headed north on U.S. Route 89 going somewhere.  It was snowing so hard, it was so dark, and I was so lonely that I pulled into to the Thunderbird Lodge in Mt. Carmel Junction, Utah.  Even though the motel was only 91 miles from Page, I had dinner, booked a room, and settled in for the night. As the snow came down, snuggled in my bed, I watched a special repeat on T.V. of The Walton’s The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. I think I might hear people gagging or laughing out there in the cyber world, but I did love watching the show about snow coming down, Christmas coming, and people wanting to be with those they loved. I’ve never been a very successful cynic and maybe the times were different back then.  A year or two before I had seen The Homecoming with some of my friends back home in Milford. I wasn’t home, I was not anywhere near a stable with oxen, and yet I felt happy and content.

Even though it is somewhat gussied up (for Mt. Carmel Junction) now, I still love the Thunderbird.  Just this past summer, I had left my friends Sally and Laura after our rendezvous in Zion National Park, I couldn’t get to my campsite in the Dixie National Forest because of landslides, I got freaked out again on high desert roads, and I needed a place to feel safe and to not be alone. I drove to the Thunderbird, which was in the opposite direction I should be heading, had dinner, booked a room, and snuggled into bed reading Mysteries and Legends of Utah.

Back to the present: It’s been a difficult week for all of us who struggle to believe in a civilized world where we take care of little children and everyone else. I wish us all to feel safe and to not be alone.

Mt. Carmel Junction 6.26.12