Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Zion National Park, Mormons, and Gooseberry Mesa

Like so many National Parks in the USA, Zion National Park is a must-see. The towering granite walls of Zion canyon attract 2,000,000 (!!!) visitors a year to hike, wade through water-filled slots, and rock climb. With our heads cranked skyward, we found some of the best views through the skylight vents of the shuttle bus on the way to our hikes. The view from within the canyon is spectacular, but we also chose a couple of hikes that climbed to the top for a well-deserved view from above.

Both hikes were strenuous, and the popular Angels Landing hike was quite crowded, but it was well worth it. The large scale of the place makes it hard to photograph. Here are just a few pictures from below and above:

Near Zion is one of our favorite mountain biking desintations, Gooseberry Mesa. It's not easy to get to, and happens to be near the heart of FLDS country. This fundamental sect of Mormonism is most notably different from the LDS church because they believe in polygamy. One of the more recent leaders, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life-sentence for incest and child endangerment. After his father died, he married all of his father's wives (except for his mother). It is reported that he has 60 wives. Wikipedia tells me that half the population of the area is descended from only two men. As such, it has the highest incidence of a rare genetic disorder due to all of the cousin marriages.

Warren Jeffs and his wives

During our drive, my mouth hung open as I gawked at the women with coifed hair toiling away in the field in 90 degree heat. They wore prairie dresses over pants in addition to the traditional Mormon long underwear (I'm assuming the underwear part). I'm not sure who gawked harder, me, or the poor little boys in the grocery store who couldn't take their eyes off the skin of my legs, arms, and shoulders.

The mountain biking and camping at Gooseberry was just epic. Our first morning camped there, Scott stepped out of the truck and said, "I feel like we're on our own planet". It was truly one of our favorite camping spots ever - the views and isolation were priceless. Pictures below.

The mountain biking is slow and relatively technical. The trail is mearly a series of white dots on the rocks. In places the trail seems impossibly steep or rather torturous, but somehow you're able to make it up, down, and around almost everything. It doesn't take long to realize how grippy the Navajo sandstone is. The big faint white dots of the "trail" are visible in most of the pictures below.

From here, we made our way towards Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve in California for some more excellent camping and desert isolation - next post!

1 comment:

Robert said...

Amazing place !
Gooseberry Mesa....................1
But you know what?..............Gooseberry that means Amla is a so useful for health !!! it is specially useful for hair !