Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Zion, Hurricane, Red Cliffs hike - Utah, Day 5-1 {Sabbatical SW trip}

On Monday June 19, our 13th wedding anniversary, after we finished our "hot" hike in Bryce Canyon, we loaded up and drove south for an hour and a half until we came to our ultimate destination (in my mind, not the kids'), Zion National Park. I was so looking forward to visiting again in order to relive all the magic from my family trip in 1995. I never felt we had adequate time there, and we certainly didn't since my family, indeed the entire park, was evacuated due to a flash flood. I was literally bouncing in my seat in excitement as we approached. The first landmark I recognized from an old photo of my dad's was the Checkerboard Mesa. I didn't realize it was east, outside the park proper, well before the mile long tunnel to get into the canyon.

My dad's 1995 photo! Squee!!!

Around every bend, on both sides of the road, there were super cool rock formations. I couldn't look fast enough to take it all in. I stuck my camera out the open sun roof and snapped away.

Getting close to the tunnel entrance.

There is it! I distinctly remembered this long tunnel from 1995 even though I was only 12. It's a mile long, very dark, and has occasional windows that look out into the canyon beyond. Our kids were mesmerized just as I had been.

We emerged into pure beauty. Zion is AMAZING!!! It is very aptly named, thankfully before all the current PC garbage, after the heavenly city of God. 

 Cue angel's singing. Keep in mind there's zero skill involved in these driving photos. It's just that beautiful! 

Heading down the switchbacks and looking back east and we saw another site my dad pictured, the Great Arch. 

Boom baby! It was seriously so cool to see these sites with adult eyes, more aware of my surroundings, more interested, more prepared. Zion did not disappoint.

Heading west away from the Great Arch was this view. I mean, come on, does that not look like a post card?! This place is gorgeous 24/7.

What I couldn't capture with my camera stuck out the roof, was the soaring temperature. As we descended into the canyon, the temperature kept increasing. Although I was excited to see Zion again, I was growing apprehensive about how we were going to handle temps upward of 110 degrees, especially since it was 6pm and the heat was not letting up. It wouldn't break until after dark (like 930pm) and even then it only came down to like 85-90.

So we drove through the canyon, then through the little town of Springdale which lies westwardly adjacent to the canyon, and on another half an hour to our Airbnb camper in Hurricane, Utah. But first we stopped at the next door Walmart to buy water, something we didn't know we'd need. Our first step out of the van felt like we had entered hell. The wind was blowing like crazy, blowing sand across the road like a blizzard does snow. We were bowled over by the heat, totally overwhelmed. It felt exactly like opening my hot oven door, only I couldn't close the door. That first taste of the heat was a downer for sure. 

After Walmart, we entered our "quaint" RV "Resort" which reminded me more of a trailer park. This was not an upscale place.

 This affordable camper was what made our trip happen in the first place. If these dates for that price hadn't been available, we might not have gone. It felt like a God send. What wasn't included in the description was the tiny size of the camper. It looked so much bigger in the photos! It was a "light weight" camper of like 20 feet or so. For 6 people, that was rather small. I guess I just make everything better in my head than it turned out to be in real life. Every place we stayed was like that. But it was clean and best of all, there was a pool onsite.

Our host, Mark, met us there and talked us through the in's and out's of how the camper worked. He was very friendly but talked a bit long. We had a very long day beginning in Junction, UT (twice), two hikes in Bryce, a long drive south, were crushed down by the heat, and we hadn't eaten dinner. I was beyond overwhelmed and when Mark finally left, Terry could see I needed a minute and offered to heat up dinner (my pre-made chimichangas) in the microwave. I laid down on our little bed, pulled the accordion door shut, and had a little cry on the bed. How were we going to manage this heat and this tiny camper?! 
All I wanted to do was go to bed since it was like 8pm already, but Terry wanted the kids to have some fun in their day. So we went down to the pool and let the kids swim for 30-45 minutes or so. Then we showered and then, finally, mercifully went to bed. 

Since Zion was so hot, we reasoned that we should hike somewhere with water. One of the hikes on my list and also suggested by some drinking dudes at the pool hot tub (they reeked of alcohol), was Red Cliffs, just up the road from our resort. The description I heard matched theirs, waterfalls and rock waterslides similar to Devil's Bathtub here in the Hills, so we opted to do that. Oh boy, that was the wrong decision.

We didn't get started on Tuesday June 20 until after 11am since we were so tired. By then it was already like 100 degrees. 

From the get-go, all the kids were overwhelmed by the heat, and they complained a lot before we had hardly even started up the trail. We found this cool half petrified old stump and made them take pictures in it. Plus it was a little shade! This hike had very little shade so that made it worse.

We took a shade break shortly after and explored this little cave. 

It came out next to this rock wall. Kinda cool. Would've been cooler at sunset. Ha har. 

We kept trucking and looking for that promised water. Neat tree... 

After 15 minutes of trekking, we found the water. It was all gone and what was left was completely stagnate and gross! The creek must only flow in the spring or with a gully washer storm. Major bummer dude.

Terry was not daunted however, and climbed up above the pool, pretending he would jump down. Noah took his picture...

...and then some of himself...


Those lips! So reminiscent of Terry. Oh golly. 

We took one small video of Terry climbing up above that pool.

We decided to keep going and see if it got better further up. We hadn't discovered the rock waterslide portion yet.

The view of the pool from above. Ewww... 

We climbed up to this arch and rested in the shade. The small climb through the hot sand to get up there had really taken it out of the kids. Terry hiked further out though and took this picture of us. 

That's a little me in there!

My view from inside the arch. It was beautiful, but too hot to appreciate.

Kids, especially Evie, just hated the whole experience. She was full on Wilted Flower.

Daddy was full of pep though, thankfully, and kept us going a bit further. 

At this shade break the kids declared they couldn't go any further. So daddy went ahead on his own to explore and discovered the rock waterslide we had heard about. 

It was really neat. It would have been amazing if the water had been flowing. We'd have to come in like April to see that though, maybe. Still really cool though. Plus, it offered shade and distraction in the form of tadpoles. 

I made them line up in front of the dry waterslide. 

Evie especially found the tadpoles cool. 

Look at all of them! 

Daddy went to explore above the waterslide and was gone what seemed a long time, so I followed him up. This was the view from the top of the slide. It would have been SO cool if there was enough water. 

He was coming back as soon as I got up there. It was very pretty beyond, but we were done. 

We walked back down to our van, completely exhausted from like an hour long hike. 

We ate lunch in the van on the drive back and then went to the pool again to cool off.

I wouldn't set foot in the hot tub. Why in the world would anyone want to be that hot in water when you could feel the exact same just by stepping outside?! 

There were a couple other little girls about Evie's age that made this the best part of her day. 

Wilted Flower was gone and happy Evie was back!

The pool was a huge blessing. It made the trip for the kids and as a bonus, all of them improved their swimming skills, which had been completely minimal or nonexistent. 

Ezra was too little for anything other than the stairs or step along the shallow end so that's where he hung out. 

He didn't mind though!

After two hours of swimming, we went back to our camper and totally collapsed. We were exhausted.  After two hours when we finally got up again at like 5pm, I found the kids like this. 

Samuel was half off the bed but he was completely passed out. Ha! It was a bummer we "wasted" an entire day by not exploring Zion, but we needed that break. Plus, perhaps our Red Cliffs hike prepared us to deal with the heat as we would have to do. After we got up, we had dinner and decided to make a quick trip into Zion canyon and explore the Narrows with the time we had left... for the next post.

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