Portia and Erik's adventure in Zion

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Nudie Pools

Portia and I drove down to Hurricane the other day to see a matinee.  On our way back we stopped at the Pine Creek pools for a quick swim.  The locals lovingly call them the Nudie Pools… because… sometimes people are nude there… ? I guess?  We weren’t nude.  But it was a lot fun!

Jumping in the water! 😀

Portia jumping in the water!

Love in the Nudie Pools

It was so hot out, and the cool water felt very nice.

Doesn’t she look kinda like a pretty little mermaid? 😉


We fight fire with… shovels.

When we first got here I heard that we could train to be wildland firefighters.  When I was a kid there was this really nice guy we went to church with who was a firefighter.  My uncle worked with the local fire fighters.  My cousin’s husband was a firefighter.  When I was a kid I ALWAYS wanted to be a firefighter!

Here’s how the conversation went…

“Hey Erik, do you want to be a fire fighter?”

“Do I get a cool fire fighter helmet?”

“Yes, you do.”

“AWESOME!  I’ll do it!”

Chad and I signed up, along with Kourtney (our boss lady) and her husband Jake, and Darren (another staff member here).

Our fire chief’s name is Gene, and he’s a really friendly guy.  He meets up with us about once a week for training, and we’re going to take a test sometime soon to get certified.

We did get to spend a day using the fire hoses, which was a lot of fun.  But most of the time we’ll be digging fire lines with shovels and picks.  Either way, I’m pretty pumped.  Here’s some pictures of us practicing how to set up a fire shelter.

Erik the firefighter

Kourtney and Gene the fire chief.

Chad opens his fire shelter.

Getting the fire shelter ready!

Ready to hide from a fire!

Gene the fire chief pretends to be a fire.

Look! I'm all safe from the fire! 😀

Chad popping out of his shelter!

Kourtney our boss.

How To Deal With A Puking Dog

A sick and worn out puppy.

The other night Charlie started puking a bunch… and then drinking a bunch… and then puking more.  Then he started whining and looking really pathetic. We got worried.

So we started googling doggie sickness symptoms. Google is a nightmare when it comes to dog illness.  For the same set of symptoms, you find everything from, “You’re dog will be fine,” to “OH MY GOSH YOU’RE DOG IS GOING TO DIE ANY MINUTE.”

That freaked us out.  So at about 4 am we drove to Kanab looking for Mylanta.  I can’t really remember why.  Lack of sleep combined with sensationalistic dog forums…

Well the two gas stations open at 4 am in Kanab do not keep Mylanta on hand. Or Gas-X.  Or anything of the sort.  So we camped out and slept in our car in front of the vet’s office.  Charlie dutifully guarded me, with his head hovering over my face.  Every half hour or so he would make a horrible dry heaving noise, and I was sure he was about to puke on me.

As I lay in the driver’s seat floating somewhere in between sleep and  consciousness, I made plans on how I would put the dog down if he was suffering and dying.  It’s so expensive to have the vet put the dog down for you… so I figured I’d give him some Tylenol PM so Portia could have one last sweet snuggly good-bye before I drove him into the hills to shoot him.  It was morbid, but it was a pretty good plan I thought.

The vet finally opened at 8 am and we took him in.  We filled out some paperwork and headed back to the ranch so we could get to work by 9 am.  They called around noon and told us he was stressed, had some kind of flu bug, and we had fed him too much human food.

Charlie is fine, he has some fancy food to help reset his digestive system, we are exhausted, and $200 poorer.

Portia didn’t get any sleep, and has been sleeping for about two days straight.  Charlie is ready to play again.

A sleepy worn out Portia.

Portia’s Family came to Visit

Portia’s brother and parents came to visit us for a few days!  My parents were here for a few days in May, but I’ve had lots of lovely adventures in Zion with them so I didn’t post anything here… as this was Portia’s parents’ very first time in Zion, I thought it was worth posting!

Jerr came out a couple days ahead of his parents and he helped me explore the old uranium mines (see previous post). Portia’s mom and dad, Rand and Sarrah, came out and we went out to eat, went and saw Zion National Park, checked out the petroglyphs, took some family photos, and Rand even got to go on his first canyoneering trip!!

It was awesome.

It’s been so much fun having the family here together, we are rarely ever together all at once!

Erik’s sister and brother in law are also coming down in a few weeks and we are really excited about seeing them.

YAY for family!

Sarrah went on her first ATV ride ever!

Rand after a rad ATV ride to Jolly Gulch

Portia and Erik at Jolly Gulch

Brother sister photo - awwww.

Rand on the first rappel in Birch Hollow.

More in Birch Hollow

Rand on rappel in Birch Hollow

Birch Hollow!



The Groves Family

Petroglyph Canyon

In Petroglyph Canyon

Family photo!

So Erik… what’s with all the ropes and stuff?

Log in the Subway, Zion National Park

Just a little preview really quick–Portia went rappelling the other day!  And we’re going to go do a canyon together this weekend.  I am very excited, and it got me thinking about why I enjoy canyoneering so much… so I wrote a little bit about it.

Many people think canyoneering is just one of those things people do to feel hard-core.  Although that may be true in a few cases, it is not often true for me.

I remember one of the first slot canyons I ever hiked through.  I don’t remember its name, but I remember my mom and dad took my sister and I camping, and we spent a day exploring a deep, narrow slot canyon.  The slot was full of winding paths, and rock walls that went up so high they made me feel much less significant than I had previously felt.

My parents and sister were taking their time, and I was so excited to see what was ahead, I started running.  I zig-zagged as fast as I could.  I hopped over small boulders.  I scrambled across logs.  My hands slid along the rough stone walls as I tried to keep myself from tipping side-to-side.

At every bend I was thrilled to find a completely unique swirl in the sandstone formation ahead.  Every step carried me deeper into the slot, making me more courageous and tough…

And then I remember that I was only about 8 years old.  Suddenly I was lonely. Every step ahead had taken me farther from people I loved.  Every step away from them made me feel more lonely.  I stopped.  The canyon was perfectly still, no sounds ahead or behind me.

I waited.  Alone.  I loved the peace and quiet, but I was alone.  I began to walk back down canyon toward my family.  Nothing.

My pace increased to a quick walk, then to a jog, and soon to a frantic run.  The peace and serenity I found in the canyon by myself was not as fulfilling for me as when I had someone to share it with.

Finally around the bend I skidded to a stop in front of my family.  I’m sure my mom and dad had to work hard not to laugh at me.  I was bruised, scraped, and out of breath.  As soon as I realized I wasn’t lost, and they weren’t lost, everything was great.  I don’t remember, but I probably covered up by smiling and asking them what had taken them so long.

As I have changed and grown up (not very quickly, I’ve definitely fought against growing-up) canyons have stayed the same.  In slot canyons, and on mountain tops, I find peace and quiet, and I often find my closest friends and family there with me.

Yes, I do feel hard-core when I’m rappelling through a 100 foot waterfall.  But the ropes, harnesses, carabiners, and rap rings are all a means to an end.  The ropes take me to places that help me recharge and heal.  They bring me closer to my true self, and closer to the people I love most.

When I find a secluded and peaceful place, the distractions and problems in the world fall away and I remember who I am.  I remember who other people are.  I can let the world be for just a little bit.

Lodge Canyon

On a day off I went and did Lodge Canyon (also known as Employee Canyon or Mountain of the Sun Canyon) with my friends/co-workers Eric and Dallin.  The canyon is not as popular as many in Zion, but we really enjoyed it!

If you’re familiar with Zion canyons, the first half of the approach starts at the top of the long tunnel and is the same hike that you do on the way to Spry Canyon.  We hiked right by some faint petroglyphs, and then into Lodge Canyon. Lodge Canyon goes north and drops into the main section of Zion Canyon right behind the employee lodge.

It was a beautiful hike through the canyon.  We saw a couple snakes, lots of lizards, sego lilies, and prickly pear blooms.  The last rappel was amazing! It came down right next to a spot that looks a lot like weeping rock.  Then we were right next to the lodge so we could go get ice cream!

Dallin and I hiking to Lodge Canyon

Petroglyphs on the hike up!

They were faint, but very cool!

A Sego Lily! Utah's State Flower 😀

There were beautiful flowers blooming everywhere.

At the head of Lodge Canyon, looking down.

Me, Dallin, and Eric.

A snake pit!!



Looking down from Lodge Canyon, the employee lodge is on the left.

On the last rappel - a beautiful spot!!

Final drop

Sand Hollow

On one of our days off Portia and I went to a park called Sand Hollow, halfway between St. George and Hurricane.  It’s a pretty reservoir that has lots of fun cliffs and rocks to play on.

On the way to Sand Hollow

Playing on the rocks at the Sand Hollow Resevoir

Charlie and Portia

Charlie swimmin in the lake

Jumping in the water.

Playing in the sun!


Charlie sun tanning.

Uranium Mine

The Bulloch Mining Claim

The Bulloch Uranium Mining Claims were started in 1949 by Henry Bulloch (born in Cedar City in 1911).  After World War II and the invention of the nuclear bomb uranium mining became a lucrative business—if you could find the stuff!

Henry Bulloch married Jean Matheson, the sister of Scott Matheson (later the governor of the State of Utah).  Matheson helped fund Bulloch’s mining claim.

There were three mining claims near Orderville Gulch, Lynn claims 1, 2 and 3.  The 3rd claim was the only to produce significant amounts of uranium ore. There were three main tunnels and several exploration tunnels in the Lynn No. 3 claim, which were started in 1949.  The ore from them was made up of about .20% uranium – a high enough percentage to make a decent profit.

In 1950 Bulloch received a $100,000 grant from the US Government to continue mining.  The mine was open from March to November each year, and at its peak the mine produced about 300,000 tons of ore each year.  The ore was hauled by truck to Kanab and Cedar City where it was then shipped by train to the smelters in California..

The mining claim produced plenty of ore, but the uranium content was not high enough.  Each ton of ore averaged about .12% Uranium, not the .20% they had hoped for.  The mine operated until the end of 1953 when the US Government terminated its contract with Bulloch.  While other uranium mines were producing ore with higher uranium content, there was no need for Bulloch’s uranium mine.

The miners lived in 3 bunk houses, about 1 mile from the mining tunnels. The miners worked 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week.  Because uranium emits radon gas, ventilation was extremely important in uranium mines.  Fans were installed to keep oxygen levels up and radon levels down.  It was later realized that uranium miners developed cancer at a rate much higher than average due to the constant exposure to low levels of radiation.  In 1990 surviving American uranium miners received compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The miners worked 10-12 hour days, and their pay included room and board.
(Money in parenthesis adjusted for inflation)

5 miners – $12/day  ($107/day)
5 muckers – $10/day ($90/day)
1 hoistman – $10/day ($90/day)
1 Manager – $500/month ($4,500/month)
1 Cook – $8/day ($71/day)

Bunk houses (3) – $500 a piece ($4,500)
Cook Cabin
Storage Tent
Power plant and electric generator (gasoline powered)
One forty ton ore bin
500 gallon Water tank

The three original bunk houses are still standing.

The power plant is above the mine tunnels.

The original power generator is still in place.

The caved in entrance to Lynn Claim 3 tunnel 2, the buried entrance to tunnel 1 is to the right.

The entrance to Lynn claim 3 tunnel number 2 has also caved in - there is a very small hole that you could crawl through, but if the mine is as crumbly as the entrance, it's probably not too safe.

The entrance to an exploratory tunnel, with Lynn claim No. 3 tunnel 3 (the deepest tunnel) in the bushes to the right

The entrance to tunnel 3

The tunnel splits about 100 ft into Tunnel 3

Inside one of the exploratory tunnels - it only goes back about 35 feet.

The outhouse is still there.

Anniversaries and Birthdays in May!

Happy Birthday and Anniversary!

So this month was Portia’s Birthday, and our second anniversary! 😀  Pretty awesome.  For our anniversary, I got a whole bunch of maps! I’m very excited about them.  And Portia got a new fancy  journal/notebook thing, and a new bathing suit.  We had the day off so we went out to dinner and had  a lovely time.  We didn’t take any pictures… just strolled and enjoyed ourselves.

On her birthday a whole bunch of the staff came with us and we celebrated at Zion Pizza and Noodle Company in Springdale.  It was rip-roaring raucous of a party!

This is half the party - our friends from Zion Ponderosa Ranch.

This is the other half of the party!

Chad surprised Portia with an awesome birthday gift!

And then we all went across the street to Zion Candy Company for ice cream! 😀

Sand Caves Near Kanab

Just north of Kanab there are some really cool looking caves that can be seen from the road.  We heard they were fun, so we hiked up to them!  It only took about 20 minutes to do all the walking and exploring, but it was a really cool spot.

We only had our phones with us, so you get phone pictures in this one. 🙂

Charlie and me in the Sand Caves

There are four or five "entrances" to the cave.

Portia and Charlie in the cave

It'd be a cool lookout spot if you were a Paiute I would think.

Charlie is a tough explorer dog!

They are really close to the road, nice and easy to get to!

They're called the Sand Caves because.... well... there's lots of sand!

This is what they look like from the road