Portia and Erik's adventure in Zion

Posts tagged “canyoneering

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

Fat Man’s Misery

We have been having so much fun here at Zion Ponderosa Ranch! We work hard, play hard, sleep hard…. every day is busy and fun.  Niether Portia or I have posted much on here, but there are plenty of stories to be told, so we’ll get caught up!

Today I’m going to write about a little canyoneering adventure I had on one of my days off.  Fat Man’s Misery is a pretty little canyon that is actually outside of Zion National Park, although the hike starts inside the park next to Checkerboard Mesa.

Many people will tell you it is called Fat Man’s Misery because of the long (LONG) hike to get to and from it.  This actually isn’t true, it is called Fat Man’s Misery for a very narrow section that used to be in the canyon.  This narrow section of the canyon has changed as water has changed the features of the canyon.  It is still a beautiful canyon, and the long hike back to my car made me feel like a fat, miserable man, so the name is still appropriate.

A funny side note to this post… My friend Chad had done this canyon a couple weeks earlier, and as he had no problems, I felt comfortable doing the canyon.  As you exit Fat Man’s Misery, you hit the East Fork of the Virgin River, and it is important to know the level of the river.  I checked the level of the river online, and found that it was the same as when Chad had done it, so I figured it would be fine.

When I got to the river however, it seemed a little high, but Chad had done it, so I’d be fine.  Right? Right.  I waded in, and the water was usually just waist deep, although there were several places where I couldn’t touch the bottom, and the current would pick me up and carry me along.  I safely made my way about a half mile down-canyon and hiked back to the car.

When I talked to Chad, I found out that when he did it, he thought the water was too high and so opted for a different exit from the canyon.  My lesson from this trip: always ask for details!!

To get to Fat Man's Misery, you park near the Checkerboard Mesa viewpoint in Zion National Park, and hike from the road, south along the west side of Checkerboard Mesa.

Once you get to the south side of Checkerboard Mesa, you head east for a bit, and then south into Misery Canyon.

The flowers are blooming all over, and they added lots of nice color to the hike - like this Indian Paintbrush.

Fat Man's Misery is has lots of twisty narrows, the open up into sandy washes and then narrow up again.

At the bottom of Fat Man's Misery, is a warm and odorous spring. The temperature of the water below Sulfur Springs is very nice after the cold water in Fat Man's Misery.

Fat Man's Misery intersects with Parunuweap Canyon, which has been carved out by the East Fork of the Virgin River. If you continue downstream, you hit the Zion National Park boundary (where the canyon is closed) and if you continue past the boundary, you come to a big waterfall, and eventually you'll get to Sprindale.

The river in Parunuweap was flowing a bit harder than I expected, but it was manageable.

Cactus Blooms

Pretty Yellow Flowers

On the south side of Checkerboard Mesa is a fun little arch.

3 miles from the car to the top of Fat Man's Misery, then about 4 miles uphill from Parunuweap canyon back to the car. A very nice day.