The Pauite Native Americans, who have called Zion home since the turn of the 13th century AD, have a story for how the ever immovable north star came into being. They tell the story of Na-gah, a mountain sheep, son of Shinoh, that decided to climb the highest mountain in the sky. Na-gah prevailed after much tribulation but found himself stuck on the highest perch in heavens. His father, who did not want him to suffer, declared that his son would not die and turned him into Qui-am-i Wintook Poot-see, “the North Star.” No one else would climb as high as Na-gah myself included. After spending hours panting my way up godforsaken switchbacks in Zion National Park’s Angel’s Landing trail I finally made it to the top section where I could almost get a birds eye view of the national park. I took another long break to catch my breath in the shade of a dead tree along with the elderly and depressingly overweight folks (I include myself in this category, though I feel spry in my young age). After commandeering extra water from a park ranger I gathered the will to sally forth into the truly dangerous section of this hike, about 30 minutes of hanging on to chains nailed to solid stone, dangling above certain death in the canyon below. Clearly I did not channel my inner Na-gah on this day for after fighting serious panic attacks due to the height, I ran into my cousins on the return trip and decided to rejoin them on the hike back down the canyon. I regretted turning back for about 10 minutes,when I unfortunately rolled my ankle while gripping the chain that suspended my life 1,488 feet above the canyon floor. I would have flicked off the mountain if my hands weren’t clasping me to that mountain side. After cursing under my breath for a few seconds I recomposed myself and with great encouragement from the kind hikers around me I pulled myself back to the actual flat ground trail and limped my way back down that trail. I won’t be immortalized into a star just yet.
This whole trip was the most American, non camping, camping I have ever done in my life. During Memorial Day weekend, we hopped on a huge mobile home that fit my cousins, myself and their dog more than comfortably, and we drove this house across New Mexico, Arizona and finally Utah to Zion National Park. Along the way I was graced with the most amazing vistas of the great American Southwest. From the window in the RV it almost looked like hyper-real television if it wasn’t for our regular pit stops for food, gas and the like that reminded me that I was indeed in the land of cowboys and Indians. I glanced at wild ponies and beef cattle, the walls of mesas and jettisoned rock formations reaching for the sky. On the way to Zion, we had to cross Navajo country, which frankly deserves its own trip and post, so let’s just put a pin on that one for later. We stopped at Amigos Cafe, which if you are crossing this part of Arizona, for the love of all good and right in the world, stop and eat there. It was at this Cafe that I tried my first Navajo Taco, or sometimes called Indian Taco (pictured below) and my GOD, was that good. Fried bread about 2 inches thick layered on top with pinto beans, chorizo, egg, lettuce, tomato,cheese and red or green chiles. A meal, that frankly would satiate a family, but no this was all mine. I made it about 1/3rd into plate when my body decidedly denied me further consumption. It was too damn much! So please, heed my warnings, and share this beautiful creation, no matter how hungry you may believe yourself to be.
After arriving in Zion National Park at the dead of night, we made camp and ate a hearty breakfast in the morning for we spent the day hiking. On that day we set forth on the Narrows trail, which in truth is a river, that cut deep into the canyon walls and was mostly shallow enough for wadding through it. All the water photos below correspond to that amazing trail.
After my escapades on Angel’s Landing we took off the next morning and stopped at Lake Powell for lunch with a view and the rest is history. Soon I shall attempt to channel Na-gah in another great adventure.