VLA New Mexico

Day two of the Zion Saga

Richard Charpentier Canon Cameras, hiking, Notes from Rich, Photography, RLC Design Leave a Comment


3 tents are illegal!

The second day in Zion was our first “full day” in Zion, and it was truly a full day!  It didn’t start out on the right note though.  Several items came up.

Fortunately I was feeling better.  Multiple Benadryl the night before, doubling a few of my medications, I was nearly human.  That was a plus!

Morning at the Watchman Campground started out at about 4 something a.m. with a car alarm going off.  Then a different car alarm going off.  Just as I started dozing back to sleep one more car alarm went off.  It seemed to me people really don’t understand their car alarms.  Or somebody was breaking into an awful lot of cars early in the a.m!

Once we all rose from our slumber we started heating up some water for coffee and decaf.  As we were boiling our water the second “hitch” for the morning came up.  Two “caretakers” who work for the forest service stopped by to reprimand us.  Watchman has a 2 tent limit.  We had 3 tents on our particular site.  2 solo tents and a double tent.  Very small footprint, taking up about 1/10th the size of our site.  Still, it was 3 not 2.

The caretakers were kind enough to tell us that more belligerent offenders were ticketed.  When you get ticketed you also leave the park……  Fortunately we weren’t belligerent, we were all still half asleep and groggy thanks to all the car alarms.  We won’t even metion my snoring (which occurrs when I’m having allergic reactions).


A two room tent that can house more than 6 people easily.....

The belligernet comment came up when I asked about the policy and the footprint our tents versus the mega tent across the way.  Once that was asked the “ticket” option and the words “more belligerent campers have been ticketed” came out.  I shut my mouth, we took Tom’s tent down, and he planned on sleeping in the back of the truck.

Seriously though, our tents took no space.  I understand the need for rules.  Each site is allowed up to 10 people in 2 tents.  Those are some mega tents to fit 10 people.  The worry is impact to the foliage and such.

Look back at the photo of our tents.  We were pitched in a dusty dirt lot.  Nothing was growing, nor would it grow where we were.  The enforcer of the policy that day was unreasonable.  However, in this day and age of bailouts and lack of anyone being responsible rules are there to free us from having to use our minds and make a reasonable determination.  Government work at its best!

So, we complied, I grumbled to myself, and I thought back to Atlas Shrugged for the whole morning.  Many parallels these days…..too many parallels for my comfort.  Shame that I had to draw one more while camping in Zion!

After the initial morning hubub, Tom tearing his tent down, and hot beverages being served we headed off in one of the park shuttles.  The scenic road into one section of Zion requires you take a shuttle these days.  Too much traffic and congestion when everyone can drive in on their own.  Gotta say, the shuttles worked well all weekend and we appreciated them!


Water falls from a cliff above the lower Emerald Pool

In yesterday’s post I promised to explain why I made the Patriarchs our first stop in the park.  I even posted a photo along with the promise, so here I am fulfilling that part.

With my “fun” autoimmune disorder comes a whole host of “fun” issues that come up.  Now allergic to things that never bothered me until this thing turned on.  One of the really “fun” effects is that my intestinal tract becomes inflamed.  Really inflamed.  To the point of severe discomfort sitting up.  Pressure from the abdomen pushes up to my chest and makes me wonderfully uncomfortable.  This leads to a naseous feeling that is an extreme joy.  Yes, sarcasim!

While I was feeling a little better that morning I wasn’t feeling great.  I’ve been fighting a flare for months, avoiding Prednisone like the plague, and trying to manage until I get in for a visit with a GI here for an endoscopy and colonoscopy again.  That’s all fun too.  With the thick wood smoke the night before, cottonwood everywhere, and higher pollen than in Prescott I was still way off from perfect!

So, sitting in the back of the shuttle bus I was feeling icky.  Sitting up straight was hurting big time.  We had a distance to travel and I was resisting the urge to barf all over everyone and everything in the bus.  Then the driver announced, “Court of the Patriarchs.”

I leaned over and excitedly asked everyone, “You want to stop here and take some pictures?”  Everyone thought that was a great idea.  So did I.  I got to relieve the gut pressure for a bit, we all got to take photos, and I didn’t puke on 3 rows of people in front of me!  See, FUN!  And I didn’t have to worry anyone about my gut wrecking up the first full day……


The middle pool was pretty small, but it was pretty!

We reboarded another shuttle and continued on to the Zion Lodge and the Emerald Pools.  I managed the rest of the ride in the new shuttle with enough comfort to make it through.  I also popped an extra Benadryl for good measure.  Nothing like groggy hiking in a beautiful place.  🙂

The hike to the Emerald pools was pretty quick.  The lower and middle pools were easy to get to.  The upper pool had a steeper trail that was very sandy and hot.  Still, nice things to look at!

On our way to the upper pool Sadira took a hard fall.  She stopped herself with her knee.  Loud CRACK sound, but she got right up and shook it off.  It didn’t take long for her knee to change color.  Falling is definitely part of hiking on a trail.  There’s so much to trip over you’d be amazed!

We spent a good while at the upper pool relaxing in the shade, cooling down, people watching, and fending off squirrels.  The wildlife gets well fed in Zion.  Even with horribly disgusting ads on the back of the shuttles (infected bite on a hand warning not to feed the animals) people still feed the little moochers.  Don’t get me wrong, I like animals.  But being circled by squirrels that want to get in your backpack gets unnerving at points.  Heck, I almost stepped on a squirrel as it had no fear of me, and I didn’t realize it was right under foot.

Crazy Squirrels!


Bridge over the Virgin river near the Zion Lodge

After wrapping up at the upper pool we headed back down to the lodge.  A snack, and then a hike up to the Grotto, that was the plan!

Arriving back at the lodge we found a huge crowd of people.  The park was packed, and it was only Thursday.  Bus after bus pulled in dropping off more and more people.  Pretty amazing stuff.   Rich Luhr had written once about how busy Zion is, and he’s pretty correct on that one.

We waited in the snack bar for quite a while to get a few minor things.  Italian Ice, fries, sodas.  You know, good for you hiker food!  🙂  Seriously, those Italian Ices were just what I needed that day.  Nice cool down.

Standing in the river was also a nice cool down after the hike, and I totally forgot to mention that!  Whoops!

We stayed in the little picnic area for a while munching and watching all of the other tourists.  I got lucky enough to find an empty table so I snagged it.  There were no chairs to go with the table, so we stood around it as we enjoyed our food.

Seriously, there need to be more than 2 chairs per table gang!  Just saying!

We wrapped up our snack lunch and decided to hike the half mile Grotto Trail to the Grotto.  We were expecting a grotto, but found a picnic area named the Grott.  Ah well!


Water trickles down from an overhang at Weeping Rock

It was at the Grotto that we learned the trailhead to Angel’s Landing was there.  Marked that off in our minds for a hike another day.  It was already afternoon and we thought the landing would be best as an earlier hike.  Good to know where it was though!

Our final trip for the day was a visit to Weeping Rock.  Not a sad rock.  Just another place with running water coming out of the rocks.  Extremely old water too if you believe the tour bus driver.  I guess I believed him, no reason not to.

The hike to Weeping Rock was extremely short.  And it was packed, just like everywhere else we’d been in the park up to that point.  Lots of tourists just like us.  Lots of cameras too.  Everybody snapping away like crazy people.  Especially me.

Just to note, by this time I was feeling a good bit better.  Doubling doses of medications really worked to control my gut in this extremely green park.  I’d never expected Zion to be such a green place.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of it, I’d seen pictures previously!

Once things were wrapped up at Weeping Rock we took an express shuttle back to the Watchman Campground.  Ok, it wasn’t express, it was just a shuttle.  The ride back was uneventful and we were happy to get back and make some real food!

For the evening 2 new neighbors pulled in with an interestingly outfitted truck.  Bed in the truck bed, cool sliders with their gear, the works.  Made me thing of some of the Overland Journal vehicles!

Tom got to talking with the new neighbors, told them of our tent incident and voila!  They told Tom to pop his tent on their site.  Problem solved for one night.

For the evening everyone around us cranked up their wood smoke fires and settled in around the glow of their fire pits.  My eyes went blood red, I took some more Benadryl and rolled with it.  You’re camping, you didn’t bring your Airstream, what do you expect?

Well, there’s the wrap for the events of Thursday, May 28th!

Oh, and a few notes on shooting in Zion…..

For our first full day out I carried both the 40D and the 5D Mark II.  The 40D was equipped with its 10-22mm lens, the 5D initially had the new 24-70mm L Series lens on it.  In addition I had my 17-40mm, and the 70-200mm.  My pack was way too heavy!  The biggest culprit for pack weight was the 24-70mm hands down.  I cut that out of the pack the next day and was a happy guy!

Both Canons worked well in the field again.  Great shots, good information on screen, and functioned without a hitch.  No battery swapping needed for the first day.  I did need to off load a ton of pics at the end of the day though.

I’ll get into a specific post about the cameras in a few days.  I’ll just cover performance and my total findings then.  But I thought I’d tell you a little now.

Now, a few more photos to follow…..

Hanging gardens at Weeping Rock

Hanging gardens at Weeping Rock

Walking along the Watchman Trail

Walking along the Watchman Trail

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