We're in Zion, in God's country... or at least the Mormons... or well, it used to be, but now its a National Park - and for a protestant boy like me good self it was encouraging to find that this little outpost of what was once Mormonism is now a wonderfully welcoming place with sun kissed mountains, deep dark canyons (and surprisingly for the desert) shady glades, hanging gardens from the cliffs, swamps and cool streams. Even more surprising is all the local religious names given to these places came from a good Baptist chap who wandered through on holidays some hundred years ago and just started hanging names on places... The Golden Throne, The Court of the Patriarchs, The Temple of Sacrifice - replete with blood red iron oxide stains streaming down its some 500m high white sandstone cliffs.
This is a wonderful little oasis away from the flat plains, we're camped out in the bottom of a magestic and scenic canyon carved into the landscape by the Virgin River like a plastic spoon through Jamila's half eaten and melting ice-cream sunday (I had to finish it for her - hey - I'm a nice guy).
I love cooking burgers as the sun sinks below the western rim and sets the eastern mountains on alight... I'd love it more if the wasps weren't so darn interested in the fat exploding out of these burger patties... The girls love being able to swim in the river only meters away, and also love debating over cactus or cactai (Lucy is very definate on whether a patch is singular or plural and loves telling us "Its one Cac-tuSS and lots of cacTAI!")
Its hot during the day - as it always is out here, but the cliffs block the sun early and EVEN BETTER theres a great river of all things to swim in, cooling the blood under the eaves of the cottonwoods and floating lazily downstream until you bump into some yelling group of bloody french tourists... bloody tourists.
Its hard as always with words to convey how COOL it is being here. The first night I sat on a crummy portable chair drinking some local brew and was struck by a large hole in the sky where the stars should be. "Julian you idiot" screamed my more intelligent inner monologue "Thats no hole in the sky its a... errrr.....wait on" mmm that beer was good... "Ahh thats it, a mountain, a bloody big one! Its just blocking the stars in a manner you're not used to!" I would have inner monologued more but I had to go and yell at some noisy French:
"Its past curfew - keep yer snail munching down our kids are trying to sleep!"
"But mon dieu! Ewer liddle chulrin - zay bee trying to eat zee snails!"
"TOUGH! AND SHUDDUP!"
We did some lovely hikes on out first day but the real highlight came on the second day as we headed up into the wild and remote (and horribly popular) river walk to the top end of the canyon. But we're not bothered by such little things as the end of the path - oh no - not us... we decided (along with pretty much everyone else) to just darn it all to heck and keep walking... off the end of the world and into the great unknown known as the narrows. The canyon narrows so much that the river actually fills it up: theres no paths where we're going Marty...
We slog through the water, gazing up in wonder at towering cliffs and sideways in annoyance at passing french. Its great here - you could walk all day in the water, its exciting and dangerous, cool, fast, slow, deep, shallow, forgiving and relentless all withing the space of just several... well hours, turns out what we thought would be a morning diversion ended up taking all day. But it was amazing, if you're ever this way you HAVE to see Zion and try the Narrows walk. The river is stunning, but the cut it has made in the landscape that towers hundred of meters RIGHT above you is humbling in a "I'm not humbled I'm bloody slogging along fine here just look at me go! WOOHOO!" type way...
Seeing how the river cuts the rock, and being within it at the same time is very rewarding, the girls absolutely loved it, and though Lucy did fall asleep and have to be carried out deadening my arm for days, I'd do it again in a flash. Its one of those real HEY THIS IS AWESOME type adventures that only reveals just how awesome it is at just the right moment - when you're right in it - loving it and wishing it would never end (and that Lucy would wake up - she's bloody heavy).