May 27, 2011

Zion National Park - Forces of Nature

Below gathering storm clouds, the warm hues of immense rock walls reflect a subtle pleasant ambience. Standing at the base of towering sandstone walls, it's difficult to imagine that we are standing at the same elevation as the top of the Grand Canyon. Nearly a thousand meters more of solid rock ascend above us. The scale of not only our immediate surroundings, but the entire Great Basin extending beyond to the south and west inspire us.  We hike a steep trail upwards, slowly, enjoying the vibrance of the occasional maple in autumn splendor. We follow the pace of our young explorers, climbing over rocks, navigating the narrow trail. We have the entire afternoon to our disposal, we aren't an a hurry. Elias and FrĂȘney determine our pace and final destination.

At the end of the trail a faint waterfall plummets into a small pool with sandy beaches and rock islands. We kick off our shoes and feel the soft sand between our toes and the cool water on our feet. Serendipitously, we are alone to enjoy the quiet, the silence broken only by the faint symphony of falling water, and the gentle rustling of branches and leaves in the calm wind.

Our ambitions of another hike further into the narrow canyons upstream evaporated in a steady downpour the next morning. Considering the forces of nature that have carved these rock walls and narrow canyons, it's easy to accept that autumn storms are part of the natural cycle.

As we lie in our tent debating the storm we realize that we are ready to move on. The forecast doesn't sound better for the next few days. We say farewell to the grandeur of the high deserts of Utah as the heavy clouds obscure the upper reaches of the majestic rock walls surrounding us.