Tag Archives: trailer

Zion National Park, Shuttle Rides, Canyons, People

Entrance to Zion National Park

Just because it’s September and the kids have returned to school doesn’t mean there will be no crowds at Zion.  Several months in advance we tried to make reservations to camp at Zion and were only able to get two days simultaneously; so we split our time between two campsites.  We were up early the morning we switched to our second campsite and ready to move out by 9 a.m.  But the second campsite was not vacated and the group staying there used every minute of their time before check out until 11 a.m.  We had time to bike to town and have breakfast at Deep Creek Coffee Company.  Deep Creek has a neat open air deck upstairs where you can enjoy views of the canyons; very good, strong coffee and nice breakfast menu; silly me, I just ordered oatmeal but it was flavorful and substantial (not just a mix with hot water stirred in).

Our bikes ready to roll

Our bikes ready to roll

Back at camp, we still had an hour to kill so Bill drove the trailer to the Dump Station to empty the gray and black water and fill the trailer water tanks.  He pulled in behind a huge fifth wheel rig.  The driver got out, inspected the dump station, the hoses, his rig, then donned plastic gloves.  Thirty minutes later, the man meticulously finished his job, surveyed everything in front of him with satisfaction and drove off.  It was a lesson in patience for certain for Bill, but mostly agitation that anyone could be so thoughtless when other people were in line as to take his own sweet time and then stand back admiring his work.

 

We liked all the wildflowers at the campsites in Zion.  Our 2nd site had a group of golden daisy like flowers so pretty to enjoy while eating.  The shade from overhead trees also helped as temperatures were in the high 90’s in daytime.  We liked having space between us and other campers.  We happened to land right in the middle of a group of Airstream Trailers that were caravanning together.  You could look down our row and see one after the other shiny, aluminum,  Airstream trailers as big as houses.  The RV sites have electrical hookups (at Watchman campground).  I love having a microwave while camping.  It makes me feel like I am really roughing it.  The canyon walls were visible from our trailer in both sites and the moon visible in all it’s brilliance giving a ghostly glow to the canyon and all it’s inhabitants.  We could walk to the camp programs by the light of the moon.  We always learned something at their programs.  For instance, did you know that Zion NP has the most visitors of all the National Parks, 3 million a year?  Neither did I?  And as it turns out, neither does National Geographic which lists Zion about #8 on its list.  Do you know what a crepuscular is?  It is an animal that is seen at dawn and at dusk.

Flowers at Campsite

Flowers at Campsite

To reduce traffic congestation in the park, a shuttle system is the mode of transportation for all visitors.  The shuttles run continually from very early (6 am in summer) until quite late (10:15 pm in summer).  There is no charge to ride the shuttle.  There are ten stops beginning at the town of Springdale and ending at the north end of the canyon at Temple of Sinawava.  At any shuttle stop in the Canyon, you will find trails, restrooms, and drinking water.  A few of the trails are paved for accessibility.  The shuttle is an efficient transport system to allow many people to see the park.  I found, on the other hand, that it detracted from the wilderness experience in several ways.  Because so many people visit, hiking some of the trails is like being on a popular ride.  Being packed like sardines in a crowded shuttle bus hoping for a cool breeze through the small window opening felt too much like being in the city riding a bus.  With planning, I think you could avoid the crowds, but it beats me when or how.

Riding the Shuttle

Riding the Shuttle

We happened to visit Zion in the midst of major construction; the Riverside Walk, Temple of Sinawava, and the Narrows were not accessible unless you walked from the last shuttle stop at Big Bend.  Buses were slower than usual because of waiting for construction crews to give the OK to pass.  And our last morning, the construction crews fired up their engines right outside our camp at 8 am, making it feel anything but peaceful.  They also closed the Dump Station that morning so we sloshed all the way to Cannonville (don’t ask!). Yet there is so much to see and do, there are always options if a door closes on you.  We chose the Weeping Rock Trail on our first shuttle ride.  You can stand in a grotto under the dripping springs  and view the canyon for miles.  The cool water is gentle on you and cools a hot body from a crowded shuttle.

Trail to Weeping Rock

Trail to Weeping Rock

Under the Weeping Rock

Under the Weeping Rock

Canyon View from Weeping Rock

Canyon View from Weeping Rock

Bill on the trail

Bill on the trail

Our next stop was The Grotto where we joined hundreds of other hikers on the Kayenta Trail to the Emerald Pools.  Bill thought as long as we were hiking and in Zion, we were going all the way, to the Middle Emerald Pool  and up to the top to the Upper Emerald Pool. We thought for all the effort, we were in for a dazzling sight.  What we found was a large pool with about fifty people sitting on rocks staring as more people emerged from the hike up.  Well, that was interesting, we thought.  Back down the trail and a turn to the Lower Emerald Pool, which turned out to be my favorite of the three pools.  There was not only a beautiful Emerald pool, but water dripped from above the trail offering a refreshing shower, and the rock walls were striking.  We took the paved walk back toward Zion Lodge and caught the third shuttle back to camp (the first two were standing room only).

Bill in the canyon

Bill in the canyon

Trail at Lower Emerald Falls

Trail at Lower Emerald Falls

View of Lower Emerald Pool

View of Lower Emerald Pool

On the trail to Upper Emerald Pool

On the trail to Upper Emerald Pool

Typical group of hikers on Emerald Pool Trail

Typical group of hikers on Emerald Pool Trail

Shadow Man striking a pose on rock

Shadow Man striking a pose on rock

Looking up the canyon from Emerald Pool Trail

Looking up the canyon from Emerald Pool Trail

Cairns mark the trail to Emerald Pool

Cairns mark the trail to Emerald Pool

Up the Rock steps to the Upper Emerald Pool

Up the Rock steps to the Upper Emerald Pool

Looking down on Virgin River from Emerald Pools Trail

Looking down on Virgin River from Emerald Pools Trail

Bridge to Kayenta Trail

Bridge to Kayenta Trail

One day of riding the shuttle was enough for us, so we chose the Pa’rus Trail for a bike ride the next morning.  Although only 3.5 miles, this is an easy trail for seeing the canyon floor and enjoying the Virgin River which the paved trail crosses four or five times. Riding in the morning sun was delightful. Why did they decide to close the  Zion Human History Museum September 19?  Who knows, but we will have to visit the Museum on our next trip.  The Pa’rus Trail goes right by the Museum.

Zion from the Shuttle

Zion from the Shuttle

Back at camp, we came across a trailhead called Watchman Trail 2.7 miles round trip.  Let’s do it.  What a treat this trail was.  It ascended for it’s entire length, working it’s way up the red sand and rock canyon, crossing water you could smell and feel, but rarely see.  We knew there must be a real treat for us at the top and there was–views for miles of lower Zion Canyon and even the town of Springdale.  But the most memorable treat for us was meeting a young couple from Israel with their baby in a backpack.  We talked and joked and compared notes on trails and highways and the young man showed me how to update the IOS on my IPhone, of all things, on the top of this cliff, hands on.  The couple also shared the “inside scoop” that someone like me doesn’t have a clue about–to install the IOS at night because it takes a long time and uses memory, so, they told me, make sure you are plugged in to a power source. The walk back was a piece of cake, all down hill.  The best part was the trail was not crowded, I guess because it is not a shuttle stop but begins across from the Visitor Center.

WatchmanTrail2

BillConnieWatchmanTrail

After our hike, we rode our bikes to Springdale.  It is surprising to find a town with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops, Wifi within a mile from the entrance of Zion.  When the sun began to set, we decided it was time to head back to camp.  We flew on the downhill slope, holding on for dear life, with a cool breeze energizing, and enjoying the sun setting on the canyon walls as another day came to a close.  We really enjoyed our visit to Zion.  In four days, we only saw a glimpse of all there is, but we saw enough people to get our fill.  We will research a less-populated time to visit.  The icing on the cake was our last campfire program.  Night had fallen, stars were just beginning to shine, and the beautiful night was shattered by the sounds of music.  We learned the Zion Theater at the north end of Springdale was having a live outdoor concert.  The peace and solitude of the Canyon was nonexistent.  It was loud, it was Rock, and it was not conducive to the wilderness of Zion National Park.  The Park Ranger had to strain to be heard above the noise.  We walked back to our campsite in the moonlight thinking what a strange world it is, beautiful, awesome, and contradictory.

Crowds!  Visitors disembarking from Shuttle

Crowds! Visitors disembarking from Shuttle

 

From Tonopah to Tonopah

We arrived in Tonopah, Nevada, day two of our trip across Nevada heading to Zion National Park, filled up with gas and headed east on Hwy. 6 toward Ely.  At  Warm Springs, we were to turn right on Hwy. 375 toward Alamo, where we had a reservation for the night.  The road was a beautiful, lonesome, two-lane stretch in a huge expanse of land barren of road signs, houses, people, and even cars almost.  We loved the feel of miles and miles of empty space with the mountains framing the valley, cloud formations billowing on the horizon, and telephone poles like art against the stark landscape.  After our niece Kathryn told us about the lack of gas stations in eastern Nevada, we were determined to fill up with gas at every opportunity.  Signs we were used to in California like “Next gas 65 miles” were apparently nonexistent in Nevada.

Lonesome Highway

Lonesome Highway

Engrossed in the audio book, “Steve Jobs”, the miles flew by.  I was snapping photos of the awesome landscape.  We stopped at a rest stop to switch drivers and stretch our legs and I took the wheel.  Bill grabbed the maps to get a bead on our location.  We had been driving several hours since leaving Tonopah and still had not come to Warm Springs.  I started reading off the few signs along the road “lunar crater” ” lava buttes” as Bill studied the maps and mumbled, I think we missed our turnoff.  Not possible, said I.  We haven’t passed any town or any turnoff.  Bill continued, “we are way past our turnoff I feel sure and we are on the road to Ely.”

Trailer Girl

Trailer Girl

I looked at the gas tank–almost half a tank.  We had filled up in Tonapah and had used half a tank already?  Something was not right.  I started watching the gas gauge religiously.  We tried using our smart phones to map our location but there was no cell phone coverage.  We tried using the GPS to get a satellite location with a little more success and Bill announced, we’ve got to turn around.  Yeah, right.  We are on a two lane road with no turnouts and miles and miles of nothing in front of us and a 23′ trailer behind us.  At the first place I felt I could safely pull off on the gravel, I turned the wheel over to Bill to maneuver us around.  I continued to watch the gas gauge and my stomach sank as the gas gauge continued to move past center and still no turnoff.  It was 20-30 miles back to Warm Springs.  No wonder we had missed it.  It was a boarded up building and an old fence.  The only sign that gave any indication of the town was nailed to the defunct “Warm Springs Cafe and Bar.”  The sign Hwy. 375 was there all right but you had to look real hard to see it and we were so caught up in learning how Steve Jobs built the MacIntosh computer, we didn’t give the intersection a second glance.

Warm Springs.  Blink and you will miss it.

Warm Springs. Blink and you will miss it.

I could get phone service with my Apple IPhone and telephoned the RV Park in Alamo?  How far was it from Warm Springs to Alamo? 120 miles.  Where was the next gas station?  In Alamo.  Not having inherited my father’s chutzpah for pushing the limits of driving to the last drop of gas, I agreed with Bill that our best course of action at this point was to return to Tonopah.  By now it was 4:30 in the late afternoon and running out of gas between Warm Springs and Alamo with no one around on this lonesome stretch of highway was not something I wanted to venture.  Bill figured with half a tank left (12 gallons) and worse case 8 mpg, it was cutting it way too close.  And that is how we ended up back in Tonopah in an empty parking lot next to a casino parked between big rigs for the night.

The next morning, we were back on Highway 6 heading to Warm Springs, 2nd time around.  We got an early start this time — the big rigs started revving up early and we were parked right between two of them.

Shade, Lunch, and Beauty all around

Shade, Lunch, and Beauty all around

 

Trailer Gets Stuck in Hawthorne, Nevada

We awoke this morning to the sound of big rig motors revving.  It was 6:30 am and the truckers were beginning their day.  We were in a desolate stretch of Nevada in the town of Tonapah in a large, vacant parking lot.  It was Sunday morning.

The day before, it was almost noon when we pulled out of Whiskey Station RV Park in Hawthorne, Nevada.  We weren’t concerned.  We had an easy day of travel to Alamo.  We pulled into the cheapest gas station in town and almost took out a pump when we exited; but  a fellow traveler helped direct our big rig around the pump.  Then we heard a horrid crunching sound.  We screeched to a halt.  I jumped out and ran back to find the back of the trailer jammed up against a cement red barrier post between the gas station store and the pumps.  A weathered women with brown skin was studying our situation shaking her head.  This was bad.  Bill came around and the three of us shook our heads.  We had scraped the  back end of the trailer and the awning support pole and appeared to be jammed against the cement post unable to move.   We tried jogging the trailer an inch forward, an inch back until we made it worse.  HELP!! What to do?  We needed an expert!

Red Cement Post has us trapped

Red Cement Post has us trapped

The woman telephoned her husband, a truck driver.  Smoking a cigarette, he drove up, took in the situation, grimaced, pronounced we would need to unhook and reposition the truck.  With any luck, we might be able to pull the trailer slightly to the right and get free.  His name was Tommy and her name was Susan.  Bill unhitched the truck, repositioned and hitched it up again.   Tommy yelled directions, then using all his strength, leaned in against the trailer at the back end pushing it away from the post.  Within seconds, everyone leapt to help, the gas station owner, a patron, Susan and Tommy, all pushing against the back end of the trailer and quick as it began, the saga was over and the trailer was free.

Pushing to free trailer from red cement post

Pushing to free trailer from red cement post

The awning bolt was crushed and the back end of the trailer scraped.  And for some odd reason, the back door lock wouldn’t budge.  Shaking Tommy’s hand, Bill slipped Tommy a bottle of wine.  Susan gave us directions to the hardware store and then jumped in her truck and said to follow her.  As she drove off, Susan yelled  “have a great trip.” We were able to find the spare parts at a Camperland in St. George, Utah and got the back door lock replaced and the awning rebolted at an RV Repair Shop in St. George.  And we learned a lesson.  We now only pull into gas stations that are big enough for a big rig truck.  Thanks to two strangers in Hawthorne, Nevada, we only lost face, banged up the trailer, broke the awning but made two friends, Tommy and Susan.

Tommy and Susan

 
Tommy and Susan