Friday, July 30, 2010

Dropping Like Flies

Its that time of year in the seasonal world where lots of folks are heading out.
Some are at the end of the "work agreement" a sort of paper work thing we refer to as a contract, yet the company strictly says is a work agreement.

Some are heading to other dreams for one reason or another: being bored with this location, being sick of the weather, missing home, heading back to school, hating their bosses, tired of the room mate.

Some have family emergencies, reunions or weddings. Or so they say. It doesn't matter. The two week notice is customary, polite, and allows a rehire.

Some have been "let go". Fired. Too many rules, couldn't get out of bed,

I saw this same thing last year in Yellowstone. I saw this on the trail.
They say never leave a trail in the rain. Wait until its sunny, then see if you really want to leave.
That probably applies for a seasonal job too.
Never leave when you're mad. Wait. Think about everything. The Big Picture. Sleep on it.

And when the trail gods tell you its time, you'll know it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Narrows in July

I'm realizing I may not get another chance to hike the Narrows. We're in the "Monsoon Season". Thunderstorms anywhere in the region can result in slot canyons having a flash flood.

In this short clip, I climbed a steep hill within the Narrows to avoid a deep section which would have been above my head. Because I had my camcorder, I decided not to swim and risk its destruction. At the top of this hill there was a sweet little natural spring.

I've enjoyed my hikes here, so different from anything previous experiences. Walking a river bed for miles, knowing a flash flood could suddenly sweep a person away along with trees and boulders is quite an adventure. I'm very glad I hiked it early, and alone, for the full effects.

There are some that say risking life and health are just not worth doing. But, I like Thoreau's saying : We sit more risks than we run.

My drive home in two weeks will be way more risky than anything I've done here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flash Floods Ain't No Joke

On Saturday Evening we were treated to a nice soaking in Zion National Park. We needed the rain. Of course, we're in southern Utah.
The roof leaked a little. We wondered aloud if anyone would be up on Angel's Landing or in the Narrows.

But as the thunder and lighting flashed, the National Weather Service announced the warning:
Flash Flood Warning for Zion National Park.

Sometimes the warning comes too late, like for those already on the trail, no radio, no way of knowing. Just look at the skies.
They were blue an hour ago.

Today I heard about the hikers who fortunately survived the flood. Swept off trail, these men fell 40 feet, then an additional 60 feet.

Flash Flood in Zion Injures 3

Last week they warned us about the heat. Stay inside, stay hydrated. Heat stroke and exhaustion were very real. Its still hot. My suggestion: if you want to hike, do it before 10 a.m or after a late supper.

Like my Mom used to say: If it isn't one thing, its another.

I rented three movies for my days off.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The House Mouse

Last night I had a mouse encounter of the close kind.

Our bathrooms are down the hall. The women's is on the first floor, the men's is on the second.
I left my room, toothbrush in mouth, heading to the bathroom. There, at the landing was a mouse. Unafraid, he waited for me to pass. This seemed contrary to my instincts. I jumped, and tried to scare him off. He ran down the stairs to the door, turned around, and came back up the stairs. He looked at me. He didn't want to go out THAT door!

I stomped my feet. I took off my shoe and threatened him. It's illegal to kill anything in the park. Guess he knew that.
I faked a bluff charge. Back down the steps, then up again. Waiting me out. I get it.
My door was shut, so, figuring it was the same mouse I saw last week, I gave him some space.
Sure enough, he hung a left, headed down the corridor towards the kitchen supervisors room. Being midnight, all doors were firmly closed.

He wandered a moment, then headed out the exit door at the end of the hall. There's a space plenty big enough for him to exit there. Guess he's been doing this quite awhile.

Today I read about a bear being caught in a car at 2 a.m. The police arrived, tied a rope to the door handle, and pulled it open. Reasoning the best outcome was for no one to get hurt, they kept people at a distance while the bear, having thoroughly trashed the car, escaped. Perhaps pissed, but avenged at being trapped in his adventure, (having to be let "out") this black bear made news.

All is well that ends well.
Next time I see the house mouse, I'll just watch him run past. No encounters. Just a nice, hey, how ya doin' tonight?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Risk Factors

I've started reading "Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon", by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thoma M. Myers.

Its very well written factual, documented accounts of how and why people have died in the most popular of the seven wonders of the world.

I've been there a couple times. Once on the North Rim, twice on the south.
I've spent two nights at Phantom Ranch, back in the 80's. Don't think its changed much. We hiked in on the North Kaibab Trail, then back out on the Bright Angle Trail. Having that experience helps me relate to the stories I'm reading.

Recently a young woman died in the Grand Canyon from a local town near Zion. She had worked at the library, and people here had met her. They say everyone loved her.
Apparently the details are sketchy, but it involves too little water in too much heat.
Seems this is a reoccurring factor in many hiking and in-canyon fatalities. People run out of water. Sometimes they try to bushwhack to the closest source visible, end up stranded on a ledge where they can not retrace their steps. They may perish there on the ledge, or fall while attempting to climb down.

Its very sad. Two of the greatest risks the authors of this book state are being male and being solo, with no one to offer a stabilizing second opinion.

The harrowing search and rescues over the course of days and even weeks are described in the book as well. Reading about them is excellent therapy for those who venture because it reminds us to leave itineraries with friends, and if injured or lost to leave notes or signs for those who may look for us. It also reminds us that others will be in jeopardy if we fail to make good decisions.

Seems we tend to overestimate our abilities and underestimate nature.
This tendency can be fatal.
Its humbling to recognize our mortality.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Under Duress

A young friend of mine is having some interesting developments in life. I looked up "duress" in the online
I like this free source of information. Like all media, one must be open minded with information received and given.

I think this information has bearing in our pitiful economy where jobs are hard to come by and we have more at stake than just a nine to five paycheck.
Of course, I am not a lawyer, and have no idea how well this would be received by an employer.

A friend of mine working in the parks system in seasonal capacity said this was his plan for signing documents he'd rather not sign. By writing "signed under duress" he could adequately object to the procedure and get on with his job.

The elements of economic duress

1.Wrongful or improper threat: No precise definition of what is wrongful or improper. Examples include: morally wrong, criminal, or tortuous conduct; one that is a threat to breach a contract "in bad faith" or threaten to withhold an admitted debt "in bad faith".

2.Lack of reasonable alternative (but to accept the other party's terms). If there is an available legal remedy, an available market substitute (in the form of funds, goods, or services), or any other sources of funds this element is not met.

3.The threat actually induces the making of the contract. This is a subjective standard, and takes into account the victim's age, their background (especially their education), relationship of the parties, and the ability to receive advice.

4.The other party caused the financial distress. The majority opinion is that the other party must have caused the distress, while the minority opinion allows them to merely take advantage of the distress.

This post is just some research on my part. Whatever a person does in their own circumstances must be approached on an indivigual basis, with proper counsil.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Harm's Way

I bought and started reading Over the Edge, Death in Grand Canyon.

I'm only on page 11 and the flavor seems to be a positive approach to avoiding fatalities by reviewing what went wrong. I'm enjoying it.

But, like we often hear now days, we are learning about not "getting in harm's way".
I don't get it.
Why don't we say, "not getting in danger"?

When the term "putting oneself in Harm's way" is used, it sounds like an entity. Harm becomes a noun, something we as victims have gotten too close to, hence have gotten in its way. We must avoid "Harm". It is out to get us.

What happened to the word Danger?

Be careful, or you'll be in danger? That's more direct. It places self-responsibility on our doorstep.

The troops overseas are not in harm's way. They are in danger.
That is the gist of it. Not wimpy, politically correct, victimizing, self absolving.

Who made up that terminology, and why?
Is this a media thing, and we don't stop to analyze how that affects our outlook ? Was it coined to help us tolerate the wars we are mired in, without hope of exiting in our life times?

I'm for saying it straight out. Don't go hiking without enough water. You're in danger. That's dangerous.
Forget " If you go hiking without water you place yourself in harm's way".

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bucket List

Today marks the half way point of my seasonal agreement here in Zion. I have 66 days to go. Its been good but its getting hot!

The movie, "Bucket List" is one of my favorite. Besides having great actors, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, the theme is intriguing. What are the things you really want to do or accomplish before you kick the bucket...die?
You can read their discussion at the above link.

One thing I would love to do is drive, bike and walk down Hwy 101 in California and see the Redwoods.

I started googling it this morning. It makes me want to get started today.
But, hold on. Like Rainmaker always tells me, One adventure at a time.

I took this video of a giant cottonwood tree here in Zion. I know its no way as big as a Redwood, but it must be a couple hundred years old. It a matriarch of the canyon, no doubt birthing many cottonwoods. There must have been dramas unfolded beneath her gnarled branches.

The shade and beauty are magnificent. May her life be long.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ownership and Appreciation

While hiking along the Virgin River yesterday morning, I saw this object. I thought it was a large clam shell partly because of the coloring, but mostly because of the perfect halves.

I picked it up, wondering how a shell that big got to southern Utah. It was a rock!

I am not immune to souvenirs: the endless accumulations of stuff found in gift shops to remind us of a beloved vacation. For me, it's usually earrings, or a book. But even that I watch carefully, for possessions can clutter a life and dwelling so fast there's no room for living.

This perfectly split rock was laid back in its original spot along the shore. My souvenir is this short video.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Of Tarps and Rivers

Yesterday I hiked back into the Court of the Patriarchs and played with my new tarp. I found five different ways to pitch it.
Slowly but surely I plan to share all of the information with my readers.
On my days off I love to get off to myself, where the wind and sun are all that matter.
A cool river walk is wonderful, too. Today I explored the un- pathed west side of the Virgin River.
This river is truly the life blood of Zion. Everything needs it, and it appears as if humans will tame, harness and continue to trap it in every way possible.
Even amongst remote bulrushes, a lost tennis shoe was discovered. If I had my pack, I would have picked it up.
I took photos. Tomorrow I will share them with you.
The days are split amongst the morning loveliness, cool and breezy where hiking is best.
By early afternoon when its over 100, a retreat to the river's water, or a swamp cooled dorm room is in order.
Early evening, as the sun dips behind the cliffs, once again people appear to enjoy the atmosphere and impossibly blue blue skies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Composting for the Community Garden

I'm quite impressed with the recycling efforts in Zion.
Place around the buildings and near the parking lot are trash cans marked clearly: trash, plastics, glass, aluminum.

True, a person will still find plastic in the trash, but its a program that is saving the planet one soda bottle at a time. There are many visitors here that perhaps don't read english, which could account for some misplaced recylables.

The garbage, trimmings and plant waste produced in the kitchen and EDR are being saved into special bins and composted. Now that is great. A coworker was telling me about the fine soil it produced in the community garden in the nearby town of Springdale.
I find that especially wonderful.
Not only does it save the landfills from unnecessary waste, it becomes a benefit to the community who are growing fresh produce. This also saves transportation of food from around the state, thereby also saving the planet from petroleum pollution.
I would love to see more gardens springing up, in back yards, front yards, near the sidewalk.

In Missoula, Montana, I saw people growing vegetables instead of grass in their yards. It makes so much sense.

Providing ones family with organic produce, getting sunshine and vitamin D naturally, relieving stress, participating in an ancient skill of working the land, saving money, there are so many reasons to promote the art of gardening.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Orange Peel

Every day many oranges are prepped and zested.
Zesting is the process where a thin strip of the outer peel is removed. It looks like thin strands of orange, smells wonderful, and adds amazing color.

Used for garnishing the Braised Ribs at work at Zion Lodge, they look sort of weird to just be placed in a bowl hoping people would eat them. We'd get questions like, "Is this a new kind of orange?"
or " What happened to these oranges?"
So, I started slicing them into rounds, and placing them on ice. Now, the employees like to eat them. Just made sense to me. Not everyone wants to commit to a whole orange, one they'd have to peel and everything. Now, they can take one round slice, or two, or just have at it.

At home I dry the peel in the gas oven. The pilot light does all the work. I googled "Vitamin C in orange peels".

Here's one websites take:

"Orange Peel is one of the greatest sources of vitamin C on earth and should not be left out of your diet as a natural and potent way to enhance your immune system and ward off invasive infection. It is an old and reliable digestive, but important new research has demonstrated promising antioxidant activity."

That's good enough for me. As a natural source of vitamin C the whole orange is excellent.
Once it is dried the peel is somewhat leathery, and a good trail treat. It takes awhile to chew, but provides a satisfying change to Ramen and oatmeal.

I always wash fruit before preparing any dish.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gifts and Warnings

Yesterday I received a package via UPS. A manager brought it to me while I was at work. It felt like Christmas, and I tore open the package as soon as it hit my hands. My curiosity was rewarded: a red ultralight tarp weighing 7 ounces sent to me so I would have the opportunity to test this new fabric and its design features.

But, I would have to wait until I got off work to really take a good look at it.

My blog:
has 4 photos and more specs.

I love how people are always pushing the limits. The tarp has many warnings written on labels sewn to it. There are dangers associated with pushing these ultralight minimalist limits.
Many dangers are simply avoided by common sense. Don't wrap your face in a water proof tarp. You could suffocate. Don't cook or use matches anywhere near it; it will easily burn. Don't let kids play with it without supervision. It will not last forever. Retire it when its worn out.

There are also silly mistakes when no limits are pushed. People hiking in heat without any water. Weekend Warriors hiking so far they become exhausted and get lost. People starting signal fires and burning up acres of land. Playing with poisonous creatures. Trying to pet a buffalo. Silly mistakes that can cost lives.

Bottom line, a good measure of common sense and recognizing our mortality will stave off many dangers. Both of these come with age. Its up to us to teach the kids.

It never hurts to read the fine print either.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Comfort Zone

Last night I did steaks again. Not really my comfort zone. A culinary area I have yet to develop confidence, I'm glad the chef is not giving me an option. I do my best, temp by touch, and cross my fingers when the order goes out. So far, one refire each night: under, not over, cooked.

Getting out of one's comfort zone is good. Makes a person alert, detail oriented, brain cells developing new connections. Gray matter in top form.

I'm sure Lewis and Clark got out of their comfort zone. I bet Alexander Graham Bell felt some unease. No doubt Bill Gates had sleepless nights.

Discovery and Adventure happens out of the comfort zone. Where would the human race be without pressing some personal boundaries of ease and contentment?

OK, broiling New York Strips and Rib Eyes is really not world news. But, I'm game. And that's what really matters.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lady Mountain, Zion National Park

My friends at work all know I love to hike. Not just the easy stuff, and the cement and well blazed trails. Adventures are always in order. So, yesterday the chef gives me a trail to look up:

Lady Mountain.

I googled it:

Sounds interesting. It starts right here, and I must have hiked past the left hand turn heading up the steep incline several times already. Must be fairly overgrown.

But wait. Did it say 80 feet of rope? What are 5.7 YDS ratings?

"This has an over-hanging, 8-foot boulder move, rated at 5.3 YDS. It is found a little less than one-mile into the ascent. Let the best climber in your group take the rope up the unprotected section where they will find a re-bar eyelet anchor. They can then belay less experienced climbers. Keep in mind that the exposure on this move is about 80 feet and the consequences of a slip could be severe."

The survivor in me says this is above my skill level. Way above.

I've done the Pine Oven scramble, hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. Didn't need any ropes or belays.
I've hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail and been up Mt. Whitney with an ice ax. All this can be done alone.
Angels Landing was pretty cool.

I think I'll pass on the Lady.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Dream Catcher

I finished my dream catcher, which took on the shape of a Thunder Bird because of the frame I found ( a branch which forked).

Its fun creating things, even while working at the park. Lots of found objects to work with. Making art with recycled and found objects has its appeal. Things that otherwise might find their way into a landfill can be used in many ways.

That is the dogma of a green life:
Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Repair.

We can recycle the aluminum, plastic, glass, tin, and paper that one just keeps acquiring in daily life.

We can reuse an item. Using the plastic bag that our groceries comes in for a trash can liner. Reusing the plastic liner bag that bulk items are sold in for liners, and reusing the zip lock bag after washing it are all examples of this.

Reduce consumption of goods, like trendy clothing and impulse spending on plastic decorations for holidays. One thing I've never understood is the plastic Easter eggs hung on trees in springtime. Its junk. Its ugly. Plastic Santa clauses, like giant airbags on lawns with plastic Rudolfs and fake flowers.

And, repair. So many things are going the way of planned obsolescence. Its cheaper to buy new than pay someone to repair it. Few people know how to repair anything. Its not a skill we're taught anymore. Sewing, mending, soldering, gluing, refinishing furniture.

I say bring back old fashioned skills for a greener society.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Turkey Feathers and Stuff

A day off from work, a hike on the Pa'rus Trail and back along the road yielded 8 turkey feathers and a bottle.

Automatically I'm thinking Dream Catcher. Yesterday I found one turkey feather. Of course I attached it to my day pack.
The trail gods must be honored.

My room is still somewhat sparse and undecorated. I've had this room nearly two months now. Its pretty nice. Designed for two, it has two single beds which I pushed together to make one, two closets, two dressers and a night stand. One window which opens to the stairs and cliff view. I love it.

So, with the white walls holding just one calendar and one collage of trail photos, I decided the Trail Gods must want more. As homage, I'll get this dream catcher underway and continue building it the next two months.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Abandoned Stuff?

I decided to hike the Narrows in Zion National Park again. Today, with an early start of 8 a.m, I arrived without crowds. Not a soul in sight, except those on the shuttle bus.

By the time I finished the Riverside Trail at the Temple of Sinawava, and prepared to enter the waters of the Narrows, I'd seen plenty of abandoned water bottles, shoes, sandals, hats, and tissues.

Can't believe someone would leave these trail shoes. Can't believe someone would leave these sandals. Would someone be in the Narrows already, and leave their shoes here on the ledge for when they got back?

That may have been the case. I passed a couple people on the way back from their prebreakfast hike. A lady told me they started at 6:30 a.m. Avoid the crowds, get a true feeling of adventure. I forgot to ask them if those were their shoes.

I saw a baby's outfit mid stream upon a rock.

Interesting what the river washes up.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Short Version

I've developed a mantra for life:

Past is about Lessons
Present is for Living
The Future is Opportunity

It all started out when I pondered the habit of harboring regrets and worries about normal everyday life.

I realized the past is only about the lessons we've learned. Whatever happened is over and there is no virtue in reliving it. Make whatever amends possible, then move on. But, take the lessons learned on the journey.

The Present is about living. Living in the here and now, seeing everything around us. Experiencing all the fun activities.
Take stock. All is well. Life is good, and there are always good people who would like to share it with us. In whatever place we presently are, live life fully right now. Enjoy. Its said the only animal that doesn't know life is about fun is the human being.

The Future is Opportunity. With the lessons learned, and the skill of living life now, opportunities are just around the bend. Worrying doesn't change anything. Taking advantage of opportunities does. Being open to change, to adventures, to new friends. Those opportunities will happen without any worry on my part. The great thing is I get to choose which ones to follow through on.

So, that's my short version on a positive outlook on life. A positive world view.
Working and playing here in Zion National Park a positive attitude is important.

Hanging out with positive people, hiking,writing and watching deer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Stalking Deer

The other night while walking along the east side of the Virgin River here in Zion I startled a deer feeding. It jumped, took a few steps, then continued. I usually speak to them and assure them of my peaceful intentions.

As I meandered along, a gray fox startled a deer, which ran, and so did the fox. I guess it was a mutual startle. The fox began trotting down my path, so I stood perfectly still. I wear a black fleece, and dark pants, so by dusk, there's no telling what I appeared to be to this creature.

It was so cute how he'd walk a ways towards me, raise his head to see better, then continue towards me. I made no sounds, no movement. Perhaps I looked like a tree, maybe an unfamiliar stump.

I've heard the best way to stalk a deer is by only moving when it feeds, when it's head is down. Deer are very cautious, so one would take a step, stop as the deer looked around. Wait til it resumes feeding, take another step. Tom Brown's books, very interesting and well written, talks about this.

Here in Zion deer abound, and they're not skittish. Walking home from work last night around 11:00 p.m I passed through a herd of 4. They were browsing on either side of my only sidewalk passage, making it necessary to pass between them.

This is one of my favorite perks working in a National Park : the ability to interact with semi-wild creatures on a regular basis.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Big Picture

They say to look at the big picture. And, a person has to focus on details.

When the information is contradictory, then you go with instincts.

There's always lots of advice, and I'm struggling here to sort it out.

Working a seasonal job is not really that easy but its very stimulating. No doubt there. New people, new location, new circumstances.

And it ends, so a person tolerates stuff just to make it to the end. Looking at the big picture, the sins of a very few aren't worth calling it quits. They are just minor details.

The big picture has the bridge in it. Whether we burn the bridge, or keep it open is important.
A bridge is the symbol of hope. Hope for a continued journey, hope for a better other side, hope for connection to further goals.
In the end none of it really matters, the race is only with myself.