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Posts Tagged ‘camping disaster’

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair… “ Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”

The Virgin River was running fast and muddy during my visit this year to Zion. -- Photo by Pat Bean

*Journeys

Waking up nestled in the shadow of Zion National Park’s sandstone cliffs in the Watchman Campground this morning felt like being at home.

As I watched, through the window of my heated RV,  the rising sun coming up over one set of high cliffs to dance down the cliffs on the other side, I thought of the many other mornings here that hadn’t been quite so comfortable.

The first one that popped into my was the cold morning I melted a pair of tennis shoes — while wearing them – because of putting my feet too close to a blazing campfire while watching the rising sun in eager anticipation of it finally hitting out tent site.

Then there were other mornings when shorts were the order of the day before the sun had risen that high. Zion weather in April and early May is a crap shoot.

But of all my visits to Zion, the most memorable is the one my family refers to as the “Camping Trip from Hell.”

It was 1995, and family members were coming to Zion from Texas, Utah, Illinois and California to join me for my annual April birthday climb of Angel’s Landing. We were all on the road when a landscape up Zion Canyon blocked the Virgin River, which then backed up creating a lake before it finally broke through taking a section of the Zion Canyon road with it.

While Zion's awesome cliffs mesmerize me, I still remember to look down at my feet. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We put my mother up in the Thunderbird Motel east of the park, but the rest of us continued as planned with the camp out. Since we couldn’t access the Angel’s Landing Trail, we hiked The Overlook and Watchman trails instead.

Wind blew down our tents, snow froze us and rain made it almost impossible to keep a fire going. But everyone stuck it out, and while it might not have been the best of times, it made for the best of memories.

Today, whenever the topic of camping is brought up at a family gathering, you can count on someone immediately asking; “Remember our camping trip from hell?”

And then the tall tales begin in earnest – and suddenly everyone is smiling.

*Day 13 of the Journey, May 1, 2011

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