Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Now back in the shadow of Zion National Park, I have to say, it feels good to be back.    As I have moved at a fast clip through Southern Colorado, down the Green River, and across the southern state of Utah since July, this stop has been a bit of a “carrot” at the end of the stick.  I have looked forward to just “parking it” for awhile.  No more route planning, campground research, navigating unfamiliar territory, hitching and unhitching.   Just a couple of weeks to relax, visit with friends, and make my favorite time of the year, the autumn season, stretch as long as possible.

Polygamy Porter, Nitro version.

Polygamy Porter, Nitro version.

Celebrating Box Canyon Mark's birthday and initiation into

Celebrating Box Canyon Mark’s birthday and initiation into “geezer” status”

Seeing "The Martian" in 3D at the Zion IMAX.

Three aliens viewing “The Martian” in 3D at the Zion IMAX.

Bobbie celebrating Halloween on the trail, with her own brand of "Batgirl."

Bobbie celebrating Halloween on the trail, with her own brand of “Batgirl.”

I’m not usually a fan of “repeats,” but there are just certain places that feel so good, the desire to return starts nagging at the first sign of a season change.  Wintering in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico has that effect on me.   Zion holds a similar seasonal lure. Surrounding areas offer familiarity, comforts and conveniences like movie theaters, casual restaurants, markets, propane, and a dump station…all within a half hour drive of one of our most majestic National Parks with a plethora of hidden hikes and the mother of all “bike paths,” riding the scenic drive while closed to all vehicular traffic (aside from a few shuttle buses.)

Chris overlooks "Jolly Roger" canyon along the East Rim trail.

Chris overlooks “Jolly Roger” canyon along the East Rim trail.

Batgirl poised for flight on the East Rim trail.

Batgirl poised for flight on the East Rim trail.

IMG_6188 IMG_6189

I am all for “going where the weather suits my clothes” as much as any full timer.  But this time in Zion suits my psyche.  It’s a time to fire up my best friend, Mr. Buddy Heater, put on some soup to simmer, and enjoy the change of seasons.   Though the red and oranges of the maples are starting to fade, the cottonwoods are just beginning to reveal their true colors beneath their cloak of chlorophyll.   It’s like a little panacea before I have to face things less pleasing to me, like the holiday season and the Health Care Exchange.
IMG_6192 IMG_6193 IMG_6204

I love the crisp mornings of preparing for a hike.  Hot, steaming oatmeal with crystallized maple sugar on top to start the day.   Stepping outside the Winnie on the Mesa to see a dusting of snow on the distant mountains.  Goosebumps on the naked skin of my legs, bracketed by a warm fleece jacket and wool socks.   Soon, we will be off on the trail, shedding layers in the warmth of the radiant sun reflecting back from the face of the red rock cliffs.
IMG_6209 IMG_6211 IMG_6214

By noon, we find ourselves atop some remote vista with views of evergreen topped peaks, varnish-stained red rock cliffs, and a palate of autumn reds and golds in the canyons below.  Perched on nature’s finely sculpted furniture, I enjoy my al fresco meal of choice, crunchy peanut butter on multi-grain with marionberry jam.   Conversations turn to  negotiations of an appropriate turn-around point.  How much time do we have to explore and still make it back in time for an early dinner to accommodate the ever-shortening hours of daylight?

Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon

IMG_6217 IMG_6222

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of the year, and Zion is a place that wears it well.  Growing up in Texas, we were lucky if we got 3 to 5 days of fall in between the two main seasons, “green and brown.”    Living in New York, the fall colors were beautiful, but it was an ominous warning of what was to come.  My first year living in Manhattan was “the snowiest on record.”    So southern Utah is the “Goldilocks of Autumn,” juuuussst right!
IMG_6223 IMG_6230

Descending from Echo Canyon, overlooking Angel's Landing and the Virgin River.

Descending from Echo Canyon, overlooking Angel’s Landing and the Virgin River.

It’s nice not to have an “agenda” this year.  I completed “Zion’s trifecta”  this same time last year (Angel’s Landing, the Narrows, and the Subway,) so I have put away the bucket list for this visit.  I am just happy to be immersed in the vibrant colors of fiery vermilion cliffs, verdant evergreens, golden cottonwoods, and that infamous reddish brown two-lane once again.IMG_6244 IMG_6241 IMG_6243

I rode the cusp of Autumn until December 1st last year.  I won’t make it that far this year due to other personal commitments.  But I plan to “make hay while the sun shines” for all the remaining halcyon days…

20 thoughts on “Making Hay While the Sun Shines

  1. Wish we had been able to join you, but not sure how long we would have lasted with the cooler temps this year. We’re missing Zion, one of our favorite places, and the rest of the gang, of course 😉

    • …and we are missing you guys! Not a day goes by that we don’t bring up some memory of our “red rocks gang” from last year!

    • Allison, I wish you guys were here for many reasons, not the least of which is hoping Jim would have avoided his Achilles injury! Heal fast, my friends!

  2. One of the awesome things about Zion area is even after the color turn of the vegetation, the hardscape provides plenty of color……milk it for all it’s worth!

    • Karen, that is such an excellent point! Long after the leaves have fallen, even more red rock shines through! What a wonderful visual…

  3. Zion in November is a real treat. Wish I was closer to enjoy a hike or two with you and the Gang. I try to enjoy the Fall colors as I’m on my third leaf raking adventure here in Indiana. Thank you for the pictures and bringing back great memories.

    • John Q — We were just speaking about our hike last year with you and Joalenn recently. Wish you guys could have made the trip this year. Hope your leaf raking is almost done! Looks like you have recruited some future crew to help, though. Cute new addition to your family!

  4. That was just cruel to post that photo of a Nitro Polygamy Porter!! This is my all time favorite beer, even better than my Peanut Butter Stout! The glass looks sooo good! I brought six six packs with us from Park City since I won’t be back in Utah til at least March at the earliest. It isn’t the Nitro but I’ll take it for now. I could have purchased the Nitro at the brewery but couldn’t justify $12.00 a six pack.

    Glad to hear you are back with the gang in the Zion! Have a wonderful time!

    • Pam, it’s definitely a keeper, right? I think I agree, I like it as well or better than the PB stout. I haven’t found the nitro in the liquor store yet, but if I do, I might be tempted. 😉

  5. Always love looking at pictures from Zion. It surely looks like a magical place. One season northwest Illinois does do well is fall! Sure beats summer. :)

  6. What a lovely “ode” to “Mother” and Zion.
    On and entirely different note, my wish for you is that someday you will upgrade to a bike without a kickstand. :)
    You and the Gang (minus a few) and Zion, make fall hikes more enjoyable. Someday we will have to break out of this gorgeous rut we’re in :)
    Box Canyon Mark (Guide Noir) at your service.

    • BC Mark — From your lips to the Mountain Biking God’s ears, someday my “perfect magic carpet ride” is going to show up! sans kickstand!

  7. I am not sure whether I enjoyed the pictures of the porter and glass or the canyons better. Let me just say happy B-day to the old timer and you seemed to be smelling the flowers on this hike.

    • Thanks, Allen and Deede. Yes, hard to beat the combo of a cold beer after a hike through a fiery red canyon! Thanks for following along, and I will pass your BDay wishes on to the “old timer.” 😉

  8. Lovely photos and commentary, as ever. One photo in particular beckons an addition to the ol’ Bucket List: Nitro Polygamy Porter…as a Porter fan, in general, that one will def be hunted down upon a return visit (someday) to Utah. This most recent post reminds me of a well-loved tune by Johnny Mercer, “Autumn Leaves”. I particularly enjoy Paula Cole’s version from the soundtrack of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Beautiful, jazzy rendition. Thanks for the postcard from Zion…:-)

    • Rhonda, you always leave the best comments! They always contain a little gift. In this instance, a wonderful musical soundtrack to accompany the postcards. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *