Zion National Park, Zhang Yimou-Style

For those of you who haven't been following my recent exploits, early summer is when I start doing my Partners in the Parks projects. Partners is a program I run with my colleague Matt Nickerson, the Southern Utah University honors director. The gist of it is this: we take college honors students to national parks for a week at a time. They hike, learn from professors and rangers about park management and resources, and really get a deep experience instead of a four hour drive through, which is common for most Americans. We're funded through a National Parks Service grant, and we get some pretty amazing access. This summer I'll be leading or advising projects in Zion National Park, Grand Canyon-Parashant (in the remote NW section of the Grand Canyon, and Denali National Park in Alaska. We'll also be exploring new possibilities for projects in Olympic National Park in Washington, Great Basin, King's Canyon, and Sequoia. We also have projects that I am not directly overseeing in Cape Hatteras and Manhattan (many are unaware of the many, many urban NPS sites).

For the last two days I've been hiking through an upper section of Zion National Park, called Kolob Canyons. This morning we awoke to snow. We knew it was coming, but we sort of hoped we'd be wrong about that. It made for a miserable slog: lots of mud and being cold, but it was spellbindingly beautiful.

I kept expecting to see Chinese warriors flying overhead with spears and flowing silk robes, engaging in silent battle between the sandstone ramparts and the mist.

Today was hard going, but it was very beautiful. It was a good day, all in all, because I had good gear, I was in pretty good shape, and I was at work.