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Vacation: Day 6 (Zion National Park)

[Ed. note: these events took place on Monday, July 16th. We are now back in Indiana and working on finishing up posting about the last few days of our vacation.]

Monday we decided to visit Zion National Park, just a short drive from where we are staying in St. George. Several friends had mentioned that a section of the park known as “The Narrows” made for a particularly enjoyable hike. We stopped in St. George on the way to pickup Tara, Elisabeth’s friend and former roommate, and got on our way just after 7 a.m. in order to avoid the midday heat. The park is about an hour away. Once we arrived we had to take a shuttle bus into the canyon to The Narrows, since personal vehicles are not allowed in that section of the park.

After hiking along a short section of paved trail winding along next to the Virgin River, we came to The Narrows. This section of the park is so named because it follows the river along a winding path between steep canyon walls. For much of the distance the canyon is as much as 2000 ft. deep, and often as little as 20-30 ft. wide. Fortunately the river is shallow enough to allow wading, although flash floods are a particular danger.

We hiked and waded into the canyon for almost two hours. The hike and the views were pretty awesome. It’s difficult to describe, so instead of trying too hard I’ll just show several pictures instead:

Together in the Narrows.

All three of us.

A good view of the Narrows.

Another good view of the Narrows.

A neat side canyon off of the main Narrows.

Our hike actually didn’t take too long and we were out of the park by 1 pm. On the way back we decided to try to find a ghost town we had heard was in the area. Our earlier attempts at finding a ghost town had been unsuccessful, but this time I was better prepared. I got directions and even a satellite view from Google Maps, so I had a pretty good idea of where to find it. It actually turned out to be quite easy to find. The site, which used to be the town of Grafton, has recently seen extensive restoration efforts, so it wasn’t quite as abandoned as you’d usually think of a ghost town being, but it was still pretty interesting. Unfortunately my camera battery died while we were there, so I wasn’t able to get as many pictures of some of the buildings and the cemetery as I’d hoped.

Some of the more well-preserved buildings in Grafton. The one on the left is the old school/meeting house.

Another building–this one was pretty dilapidated.

We stopped briefly to get lunch on the way back. Even with the stop at the ghost town we ended up arriving in St. George right on time (Tara had to get back in time to get ready for work that evening).

Shortly after we returned our hosts, the Wrights, left for their vacation, leaving us alone in the house. Lois, one of Elisabeth’s fellow teacher friends from last year, stopped by to chat for a few minutes shortly after.

Right around that time we realized that our electrical service was out. It actually took a few minutes to figure it out, since at the time we didn’t really have any lights or electronic appliances running. At first we weren’t sure how widespread the outage was. As it turns out, wildfires in the nearby hills had forced the local utility company to shut down the main high-voltage transmission lines into the area, so all of St. George and the surrounding area was without power. The outage lasted for several hours, with the intense desert heat making the inconvenience increasingly uncomfortable. Power was finally restored just as a tremendous storm blew into the area. Summer rainstorms are pretty uncommon in the desert, especially when accompanied by strong winds, lightning and hail as this one was. It made for a pretty impressive display, especially with the wide vista afforded by the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Unfortunately shortly after the storm had passed by our power went out again. By this time it was beginning to get dark, so our energies were spent searching the house for candles and flashlights. We were able to find enough light to make our way around the house, but the prospect of spending the night in a dark house without air conditioning wasn’t particularly appetizing. Instead we decided to head down into town to see if power was still available there, and if so to hopefully stay at Tara’s house until our power was restored. The town did have power still, so we ended up staying overnight with Tara since power for our neighborhood was not restored until well after midnight.

On our drive down into town we could see a spooky orange glow at the top of a peak far in the distance. We weren’t sure what it was at first, but eventually realized that it was a wildfire triggered by the lightning storm. In the daylight the next day we realized that the peak we saw was probably at least ten miles away.

Overall this was probably our most eventful day of vacation so far. For the most part it was a lot of fun. We both agreed that our hike in Zion was one of the best we’d ever been on, and the evening’s events, with the power outage, storm, and another power outage, definitely didn’t allow us to become bored.

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