Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Red Pill or Blue Pill, Searching for Zion- Sept 23-28

The Road to Zion

    I awoke groggily. The dream was so real. Too real! One of those dreams that is so convincing that it takes a while to figure out whether or not you are still dreaming.  It seemed like years, but it could only have been a few moments until I was coherent enough to realize that it was, in fact, a dream. But that it was also a dream within a dream. With a sudden strikingly lucid thud, its full impact materialized and I knew I had to extricate myself from the matrix. There could be no other way, I had to find an exit. Unfortunately, these days finding an exit is becoming very near to impossible. I needed help.

Checkerboard Mesa
"Link, I need an exit."

"Continue on Rt. 9 for 10 more miles through the East Canyon. Follow the labyrinth of vividly colored sandstone cliffs rising towards the sky and on past Checkerboard Mesa. "

"Sounds nice, if only I had time to completely explore those wonders of nature."

"You said you want an exit! Don't get distracted. Let me know when you've reached the tunnel."

The Tunnel to Zion
It takes a massive amount of determination to travel through the maze of towering, mesmerizing cliffs without pause and without haphazardly driving off one of them in distraction. 

"Ok Link, I'm at the tunnel."

"Go through the tunnel, follow the switchbacks and for heaven's sake don't stop for the countless photo ops. At Scenic Drive head south to the Visitor's Center."

"Copy that, I'll let you know when I'm there."

Links directions are clear, but what was unforeseen was the cunning adaptability of the matrix. Suddenly thrown out before me is an obstacle I powerless to resist, even now that I'm awake. Unable to control myself I pull over to shoot the gang of Big Horn Sheep who unabashedly pose for me on the cliffs just overhead. Are they real or not? My clarity vacillates. Jolting back to reality and the mission at hand I tear myself away from the aberrations of the matrix. I must get to the exit point, I must get to Zion!

"Link, I'm pulling into the parking lot now."

"The exit is on the northeast side of the building."

The "Exit" from the Matrix
Carefully making my way through the maze of informative exhibits describing the history and the geology as well as the biology of this wild place I reach for the phone and put it to my ear and hear, "Operator!....."

"Link, get me out of here!"

Moments later as the fiber optics are removed I find myself conscious in the land of Zion! Awakened from the dream within the dream. "Zion", the Hebrew word for refuge or promised land. Throughout the land of Utah "cairns" or rock piles are used to mark the path you are to follow. In the Jewish tradition cairns are left in places to indicate one's attendance at that spot. Here in Zion the cairns appropriately do double duty signifying both presence and direction.

In the movie The Matrix, Zion is "the real place", the stark and drab reality you awake to when Morpheus' crew yanks you out of the machine created matrix. Here in Zion National Park things can appear so surreal that it isn't hard to imagine that you are stuck inside a bizarre holographic computer program. From the beginning of time people have gravitated here seeking sanctuary from the dry dessert's vast reaches in this relatively small area where the vitality of the Green River has shaped the area for time untold and continues to do so. 

The Watchman over Virgin River
Continually changing, Zion is a refuge, but the Machines of the Matrix are abound and you still have to stay away from the sentinels. I guess that's why you aren't allowed to drive on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during daylight hours, it's just too risky. However,  I was able to procure a night permit gaining me access to shoot scenes as long as I was out before first light. Bidding my time I set up to shoot the iconic Watchman standing guard over the Virgin River during sunset. Later, running in silent mode I perched myself in front of numerous other Zion features such as The East and West Temples, The Tower of the Virgin, The Sentinel, The ominous Altar of Sacrafice and the majestic Court of the Patriarchs all under the cover of the night sky. 

Weeping Rock
Daytime is presumably safer for travel, although you still are required to take Zion transport up and down the Scenic Drive. Not wasting any time exploring this new world I took in the sites and the ambiance of Riverside Walk, Weeping Rock, Zion Lodge, The Emerald Pools,  and also paid my respects at the Temple of Sinawava. As evening fell I once again ventured into Zion under darkness. I had gained confidence the first night having stayed under the radar of the machines, but I wasn't as lucky the second night. Late in the evening I was viciously attacked by an automated sprinkler system and had to make a hasty retreat back to the van after suffering some superficial sprinklings. 

Court of the Patriarchs
After that close call with the machines I decided to move on to the sparser middle section of Zion and traveled up Kolob Terrace Road which is the jumping off point for the popular destination known as The Subway. However, another permit is needed and only a certain number are available each day. Not able to get said permit I was properly "bummed" that I wouldn't be able to see firsthand this eerily beautiful section of Zion, but decided that I would leave it as a definitive reason for having to come back in the future. 

Riverside Walk
Kolob Terrace Road View
Apparently the sentinels are rampant everywhere, even in the very Northwest of Zion where I once again had to get a permit for a backcountry stay. After doing so I hiked the Taylor Creek Trail, crossing the creek many times to reach the unusual Double Arch Alcove. A huge lower alcove with interesting water streaks, greenery and a large brim overhead with the second arch or alcove very high up, capping the lower one. Hiking back out you could feel the chill in the air and understand the warnings that the higher elevations might get snow that night. 

Heading deeper up Kolob Canyon Road I started to grow weary and really annoyed as I drove towards my camping spot for the night. The problem was I couldn't drive more than 50 yards at a time without having to pull over to get some really great shots of the Finger Canyons. It took forever to drive that last 1/2 mile!

The last official item on my agenda was to return a lost human communication device which I had found along the way. Then, before leaving, I got word to Morpheus that I was heading out of Zion, but that someday I would return.......

For Photos and Videos please check out the following links:
Facebook     (A sampling  before someday posting to my Photography website)

No comments: