Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Land of Zion

I'm sitting here in my favorite brewery, Tommyknockers, in Idaho Springs, CO, having a lively conversation about river running with some local guides who reign from the Ocoee River region of Tennessee. That's near my beloved Smokies. Russell and I are talking big water and swimming. I'm thinking that an expert trip on Clear Creek is in my near future. The water is running deep and wild with the big snow here in Colorado. Luckily, I'd already written this next blog post before they sat down! In a few hours I'll be looking around from 14000 ft. Anyway, the journey rolls on . . .

One of the primary missions on the abbreviated version of this cross country journey was an exploration of Zion National Park in southwest Utah. So, that was where I pointed the rental RAV when I left the Tetons. The full day of driving was broken up by the sweet up-mountain tempo ride in Idaho that I described in the last post. Then, as I was passing through Ogden, Utah, I saw one of those brown signs that caused me to veer off of I-15.

Ten minutes later I was treated to a view of Antelope and Fremont Islands in the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island had been on my radar for several years. I spent a few hours that steamy 93-degree afternoon driving and hiking around the state park island. This side trip was well worth the effort.

A brief history. Early Mormon settlers farmed and raised stock on the island. The namesake antelope were wiped out more than 100 years ago. Ownership of the land passed between several people and companies before it eventually ended up as state property. Now it is a popular state park that is famous for bird watching and for the large herd of buffalo that graze on it. I stopped to tour the visitor's center, to shoot buffalo, to eat some tasty buffalo, and to hike a few miles as I followed the park roads. I didn't spot a lot of birds, but I shot the ones I did see.

Then it was on to Zion, more specifically, to the Kolob Canyons section of the park that is accessed separately from the main park entrance near the mouth of Zion Canyon. Arriving an hour before sunset, I was in for a gorgeous low light color show on those red rocks. Take a close look at those cliffs. They are 2000-3000 feet tall! Try to picture two Sears (Willis) Towers stacked up to match their height. Absolutely incredible, huh?

After driving the length of the road and stopping for short hikes and photos, I settled in at a high overlook to cook and eat a hearty meal and sip a brew while I watched the sunset. What a memorable experience that was! Click, enjoy, and go see for yourself!
Antelope Island

Kolob Canyons, Zion NP

"Its never too late to have a second childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else."

and for good measure . . .

"Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about." - Regina Brett

Can you imagine a scenario where this keeps getting better? ST

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