Cedar City, Utah October 4th
It was ever so slightly disappointing today. The weather has turned and it rained for most of the afternoon. I had driven to Cedar City in the morning through the odd shower but as soon as I got half way to Zion National Park, it became very dark and stormy.
It doesn’t worry me in any other respect save that two of the jewels in the National Park crown are the next two on my list, i.e. the Grand Canyon tomorrow and Bryce Canyon on Wednesday. I have about 3 hours each way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and I don’t want to get there to find the whole place shrouded in cloud.
That said, I am very glad I did visit Zion. The limited number of photos and brief video clips will not do it the same justice as would have been the case had there not been rain and cloud. It meant that all the contrast was missing and I gather that in sunshine the huge cliffs, which make up the valley walls, reflect a stunning array of colour.
I am going to attempt to describe it but if you want a decent look, I suggest you google Zion canyon and select images.
The canyon floor is about 2500 metres wide at the entrance and gradually narrows all the way up to Navajo Lake. The canyon is occupied by the Virgin River which drops some 4000 metres in the process. The valley is wooded and shaded by a variety of pine and aspen trees which, at this time of year, demonstrate the entire spectrum from yellow, through orange, to red and finally brown.
The extra wow-factor that ensures its National Park status is given by the valley sides. These are virtually sheer faces of sandstone of different colors, reflecting the varied chemistry of their formation. The Great White Throne is the second biggest monolith in the world and towers over 800 metres above the canyon. The Three Patriarchs stand sentinel near the canyon entrance. Angels Landing is a flat topped, 750 metre high slab of vivid red. On a day such as today, water, having landed on the top of these bare rocks and with nothing to halt its progress, obeys gravity by plunging vertically towards the valley. The whole effect is as if thick ropes have been placed on the valley walls to assist climbers.
It was discovered and colonized by, you’ve guessed it, The Mormons in the 1860s, hence the Biblical names. They thought the whole place was just as a temple should be, hence the Zion.
I was very glad to have made the effort but will go better prepared for cold and rain tomorrow.
I did meet a couple of people. Mary and Arnold sat with me on the shuttle bus ( the canyon is a car free zone ) on the way down. They are here from West Virginia. He is a retired attorney. They have a daughter in Weybridge, which is coincidentally local, married to a son-in law who makes and sells components for wind turbines. His current big contract is in Rumania and they are going out there next summer for a bit of Transylvania.
Long drive tomorrow, short Wednesday, long Thursday and then, I hope no more than 3-4 hours a day. So far, so good, but the next bit is by far the most taxing.