Here in Zion it’s monsoon season. Like Alamosa in the summer, there is a chance of rain just about every day. However, there is one main factor in the effect that these rains may have: canyons. Here in Zion, rain is funneled down into these canyons and collects into massive amounts of water into, sometimes, very small canyons. Given the right amount of rainfall over the right area, a flash flood can occur. They have been happening relatively frequently the past few weeks…not to mention the ones we dont know about. This poses a great danger to the canyoneers that flock to Zion from around the world and we try our best to keep visitors informed on current conditions and warnings. One of the good things about the season of storms is the clouds. Huge, towering cumulous clouds like this one are an awesome sight (from afar):
I’d like to start off by giving a heads up to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis. Due to the fact that sometimes I may only take a picture or two a day that don’t really warrant an entirely new “set” on flickr, I’ve decided to lump all of the Zion pictures into one set. If there are some that stand out I’ll probably put them on the respective post but otherwise you can just access the flickr stream from the link located in the, you guessed it, “Links” section on the right hand nav bar of the page.
This summer at Zion keeps getting better, and simultaneously, hotter. Daytime temps are pushing past 100°F on the regular and tourists are pouring in by the RV load. Despite being here for a few weeks, there are still places in the park that I haven’t been too. This is kind of nice because it still means there are places to be explored. In a few days I’m going on a patrol that is somewhat exploratory in that we are going to find out how much snow–yes, snow–is still in Echo canyon. It’s a canyoneering route and large amounts of snow can make rappels impossible. Due to this hazard it’s currently closed to the public. In order to make sure we don’t get stuck, we will leave ropes behind. So, rather than finishing out the canyon at the last rappel (if we get that far) we will go backwards, up canyon and ascend the ropes we left. It’s pretty amazing there are all these little microclimates in these canyons. The main canyon is roasting, yet in some canyons there is still LOTS of snow and ice.
And now for a few pictures:
This one is a view from Watchman Trail. I live in the loop of houses in the lower left. Not a bad spot!
Here is a snow arch in Hidden Canyon.
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The end of the spring semester came and went and now, finally, I am at Zion. Zion National Park to be precise. For those who may not know, I got a position as a volunteer backcountry permit ranger at said park. The job consists of working 50% at the permits desk selling permits for people who wish to go into the backcountry and 50% patrolling trails and canyons in the park checking for permits, helping visitors along the trail, and checking up on trail conditions. Zion is home to some great canyoneering routes and I will have to patrol those as well. These canyons and the canyoneering are the main reason I really wanted to come to Zion this summer over other parks. Other parks and forests I was looking at didn’t offer the same opportunity to learn new technical skills like I will be able to here.
So far we have just been doing training this week. It started with some standard computer test stuff, then we had a day of presentations from NOAA, and other departments from the park like the wildlife division, the GIS division, etc, and then a day of some more technical rope work. Today, however, was my first day of actual “work.” First I started at the permit desk. People line up very early in the morning to reserve their spots on the trails and canyons so it was super busy. Then, at around 11am, we went for a patrol on the West Rim trail which was amazing. This was the first time I have been higher up in the main canyon so it was nice to finally have a different perspective of the park.
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I applied to a bunch of different parks and forests for a job/volunteer position last month with Zion National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park at the top of my list. A couple of weeks ago I had a phone interview with both parks for the volunteer backcountry ranger position and then last week Zion called me and offered me the position! I took it. The job consists of %50 manning the backcountry office answering questions and issuing permits to visitors and the other half consists of monitoring hiking trails and canyoneering routes as well as helping with special projects and maybe a little search and rescue. This should prove to be a pretty amazing summer. I may end up blogging during the summer but I will find out details about that soon.
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