Zion National Park...
On the drive in to Zion, folks were passing around a lot of snacks. I guess a lot of people had brought snacks on the trip in case the food was bad. But the food had turned out to be pretty good. So everyone was carrying these extra snacks and the trip was almost done. Nuts and trail mix went around.
The drive was scenic. And then we got to the gate of Zion. We drove through a river canyon. After a wait, we drove through a long tunnel. Every so often, there was a cut in the tunnel wall, through which streamed sunlight and a view of canyon walls. Jimmy, ever the Barrett scholar, played Pink Floyd at us, and may have timed the drive so that the views sync'd up with dramatic moments in the music. He may have. It seemed to happen, and he could have pulled it off if anybody could.
At a parking lot towards the southern part of the park, those of us doing the short tour (not going on to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, etc) stayed in the parking lot to make sure that our luggage got onto the new bus we were transfering to.
The sun beat down. It was stupid hot. Folks were talking about long hikes. I wasn't talking with them. I remembered how I felt on that Kodachrome hike. I tried to dredge up memories of Zion from my previous visit ~25 years before. Could I remember if there were any especially tree-shaded areas? Nothing struck me.
Eventually the other bus showed up. I got to meet Driver Jonathan and Driver Wild Bill. Our luggage transferred. We were allowed to go. A few minutes later, I looked around and noticed that everybody was gone except the drives. I asked if we were allowed to go. Yes, we were. Ah, I'd missed that. Stupid heat.
I chose my walks based on which ones had the shadiest-sounding names. The riverside walk sounded pretty good. It had some shady spots, but it turned out to have some exposed spots, too. I drank a lot of water. I moved among tourists. I tried to pay attention to the scenic wonder around me. There were canyon walls. I tried to care about canyon walls. It was hot. Stupid hot.
For a while, I sat in the shade of trees at a sandy beach on the riverside. That was nice and cool. But it could have been anywhere. I eventually convinced myself to start moving around again. I headed back to the trailhead. I ran into Leena. She was walking this trail and inclined to go further than I had. I stared at her stupidly. I tried to imagine forcing myself to keep walking along this trail. I failed. I wished Leena good luck.
Weeping Rock sounded like it might be a damp cool overhanging grotto kind of dealie. There was an overhang. It provided some shade. It was dripping. But it wasn't much of an overhang. So when I walked up to Weeping Rock, I was able to stand in its shade. But just barely; my toe-tips weren't in the shade. And as the sun moved across the sky, the rock's shadow moved. Some of my toe-knuckles were now in sunlight. This shade wouldn't stay long. And I reminded myself that it was silly to come all this way to Zion and then just stand under a rock.
I was waiting for a shuttle bus to take me to the next shuttle stop when I noticed that there was a stairway that went down from the shuttle stop to a trail by the river. Maybe I could walk along the river to the next shuttle stop. There were trees here, more than there had been at that Riverside walk. And so I headed out.
Except that the trail petered out. For a while I was on a trail. Then I was sort of convincing myself that I was on a trail. Then I was kind of sure I wasn't on a trail. Then I was hopping over a stream, clambering up a riverbank trying to find where my "trail" continued, clonking my head on a low tree branch. I wasn't on a trail.
I figured out more when I saw the cactus blocking the trail and saw the turkeys.
At least I was out of the sun. Until I had to scramble back up to the road to make more progress; then I was exposed and the sun beat down on me until I was able to get under cover again. This walk was one of the stupider things I'd done on a day of being stupid hot.
Stumbling along things that hadn't really been trails, I crossed the trail to Angels' Rest. I decided to head up. I probably wouldn't have time to finish before I had to head back.
Except I didn't make it far at all. I was walking uphill in the heat. I drank water. I kept drinking water. Folks coming down the hill sounded thirsty. One group chanted "Water, Ice / Water, Ice /Gatorade!" Another group walked slowly until they were met by their friend who was jogging up from the trailhead. The friend was a water carrier: he handed out water bottles. He'd run down to the trailhead to refill the group's empty water bottles, and had carried the water back to them. All of these people were thirsty heading up the trail. Did I want to keep going?
I looked at my water bottles. I'd already drank half of my water. I hadn't made it very far up the hill. OK, I could keep walking. I didn't need to keep drinking all of this water. I could keep going even after I ran out of water. I could keep going and see more... I could make myself as miserable as these people around me.
I looked around at the view of what I could see around me. River canyon walls. Stone formations. I tried to concentrate on them, appreciate them. But I was stupid hot. Not much point keeping going like this. I turned around, headed back down. Soon I was passed by a bunch of my fellow Green Tortoise folks. They'd made it to the top. They were happy, not miserable, not thirsty. That was good. I'd peek at their photos later.
Back at the bus, there were dinner preparations. Two Green Tortoise bus' full of people were gathered here. I looked around dully.
It was still too hot. But where there was dinner prepartion, there would be dishwashing! Soon I was washing dishes again, my hands in cold water. I stopped long enough to eat dinner, then back in.
Then it was time to think about departure: our bus was taking off soon; the old bus was staying here. So, time for good-byes, time for a group photo. And then those of us who were transfering to the other bus walked over to that other bus.
Driver Jimmy came aboard. He wouldn't be with us any longer; Jonathan and Wild Bill would bring us back to California. But Jimmy quoted Hafiz at us: Even after all these years, the Sun never tells the Earth "You Owe Me". And then Jimmy was gone.
Then we waited for an hour. Two travelers didn't realize that Utah was in a different time zone than California. So they gallivanted around for an hour while the drivers made worried phone calls to park rangers.
But then we were all together on the bus again. We drove for a while. Then it was time to make the "miracle", to turn the bus into a sleeping space. And then it was time for sleeping.
I slept through Las Vegas, where some folks offboarded.
I woke up pre-dawn as we moved through the streets of Santa Monica. We stopped to drop off some folks and pick up another. I looked out at welcome cool fog and remember my visit from a few years back.
We drove along a highway that was boring but quick. Right then, there was nothing wrong with quick. A breakfast stop by some fast food places. A lunch stop at a truck stop. (I skipped lunch, thinking I'll save room so that I can eat more when I get back to SF and that was a good choice.)
And then were on familar ground, in Oakland, Lake Merritt, downtown, on the Bay Bridge. And then we were back at the bus stop where we'd started. Just halfway through Labor Day Weekend. A last set of good-byes, and soon enough I was on a 6 Parnassus heading home, planning out showers and burritos.
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