Hitomi and I spent about ten days driving to the various national parks of the Southwest.
We flew into Vegas Friday. True enough, it's hot and full of gambling machines, and stupid drunks wandering the streets like Greek Row. I missed out on more of the seedy locales and instead we went to the Star Trek "Experience" restaurant for a late lunch and the "O" show, put on by Cirque du Soleil. Hitomi bought front row tickets, $165 each or so — she said "why not?" and I had no reply. Admittedly for the money, it seemed worth it given the quality of the performance. Since the show was at the Bellagio hotel, we stayed there, which was fairly pricey as well, though paid for through air miles. And so, for the money I found I would rather be traveling to someplace where you can actually enjoy being outside.
But this trip was more about visiting the parks than this one night.
The first park we stayed at was Zion National Park. We got in late, mostly because of the camp food and supply shopping that inevitably takes twice as long as expected, so Hitomi and I went to bed early. And since we were car camping (on a holiday weekend no less) the place was busy, loud, and every camp had a fire going. Now, I can understand wanting a fire in cold weather, but basically it was around 70 degrees and little wind, and the cumulative effect was to spread around lots of smoke into our campground and tent.
The following day, though, began a hike through the "Narrows" which starts upstream of the Virgin River — no virgins spotted however. The "trail" leads through a river bed, with shallow rapids requiring crossings every few hundred feet to avoid deep or fast water. And each crossing quite rocky, requiring you to mind each step. Thus, the trail, though just 14 miles long (over two days) isn't that easy. However, a narrow canyon the entire way is much cooler than being exposed in the sun, which we find out later in the Grand Canyon.
What I've found (which is different than my local hiking experience) is that national park visitors don't seem to understand their physical limitations or more importantly underestimate how Mother Nature can be cruel. A group (day hikers) that was following Hitomi and I, looked like a group of non-hiker college couples on their first serious hike. And it's not to say Hitomi and I are very serious and fast, but their 14 mile hike probably took them from 7AM (when we started) to about 8-9PM that day, assuming when we last saw them (before our camp site) their pace remained the same. Some of the girls didn't look too happy around lunch time and surely all weren't going to be happy that evening. Another, similar group of neophyte-looking hikers, passed us after our dinner and probably would make it out around 10PM, much past sunset. (And assuming they did not get a ride to the trail head, they're looking at shuttling back to the trail head by car, and so add another 2 hours in to their night.)
One thing I hate to see is when the group splits up, and the strong hikers go on ahead and the slow get left behind. In fact, it seems to send the signal that the slow and suffering don't really matter. Though, I am guilty of getting ahead of Hitomi, she prefers that I stay in front instead of me tailing just behind her, and I often leave her behind. (Perhaps it's hypocritical of me to say not to leave the slow behind…)
Despite some of the suffering of fellow hikers, Hitomi and I got time eating, relaxing, and taking pictures. (These will be posted soon.) Hopefully, those that made it out of there late had a few pictures as well, and maybe with their relationships intact.