Portia and Erik's adventure in Zion

Posts tagged “utah

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.

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.

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

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.

A Lovely Ghost Story

I’ll write another post later about our stay here so far… but this is such an interesting story I had to post it first!

I rode along on an ATV tour our rec director Kourtney was doing. She told us this story during the ride, and it was so awesome, I took Portia out this evening for the same ride.

Back in the early 1900’s, a man by the name of Jolly (first name or last name? I’m not sure) came to southern Utah early in the spring. Near what is now the East Entrance to Zion National Park, he found a beautiful little canyon where he thought he could make a living raising cattle.

Soon after, while spring was still springing, Jolly brought his wife and two children to the little canyon, and built a beautiful house next to a cool brook. His cattle happily munched on the green grass and his family began to settle in.

As spring came to an end, and the scorching summer season began, Jolly and his family were surprised to find that the cool brook slowed to a trickle, turned to moist sand, and quickly dried up. They were far from the Virgin River, and water was no where to be found.

As the long, hot days passed and they used the last of their water, Jolly realized that he and his family could not survive. They didn’t even have enough water to leave their new home to go get help.

Finally, his cracked lips spread into a smile, and he unexpectedly invited his wife and children to go for a walk down the dry stream.  They came to what was once a lush waterfall.

Once there, he threw his wife and children off the cliff and they tumbled to their deaths.  He returned to his house, and wrote down what he had done, and then walked back to the dried up waterfall and threw himself down as well.

When you stand at the edge of the waterfall (or dry fall), if you feel the wind blowing at your back, that’s Old Man Jolly trying to kill you.  If you feel the wind blowing in your face, that’s his wife trying to save you.

As the years have gone by, Jolly’s old ranch has changed hands several times. Each owner has tried to repair and remodel the house, as can be seen by the various modern improvements on the house. But each owner has left the house before finishing because the spirits of Jolly and his family still haunt their old home.

When you visit Jolly’s Gully, enjoy the view, but make sure you bring plenty of water!