Saturday, May 18, 2013

Zion, Day 4--Hiking Grafton and Gooseberry Mesas

Today was just another day in paradise!!  Sue Ann and Jim never cease to amaze us with what they come up with to show us an incredible time here in Zion land!  Each day we say to each other, "Well, how can they top that??"  And then they do it!  Today they picked took us out of the park to hike Grafton Mesa and Gpooseberry Mesa--we had wonderful views of various parts of the park, from the backside of some of the landmarks, and it was really neat to get this new perspective.  Once again, we were hiking off the beaten path--we were on Bureau of Land Management land for most of the time, crisscrossed with numerous dirt/gravel/rock/dips/holes/small boulders kinds of roads!  Fortunately they had a very strong 4 wheel drive, else we never could have made it on these roads.  Kids--don't try this at home!!  Only go with an experienced guide who's been there so many times he knows every unmarked road and rut in the area!!

But before we started hiking, they took us to see the ghost town of Grafton--what had originally been a Mormon farming settlement in the 1800's, when Joeseph Smith sent a group here to raise cotton.  It was a hardscrabble existence, fraught with many perils.  But now there are lush green fields, kept green by irrigation canals, with cattle and horses.  As far as the former town of Grafton, what remains are a church and school house, and a cemetery.  The church and schoolhouse were redone for the filming of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--if you recall the bicycle riding scene, this is where it was filmed. Unfortunately we could not get too close, as there was a fence and locked gate, with a sign posted that the area was under video surveillance and threats of prosecution of anyone who ventured over the fence.  Jim speculated that this may have been the result of vandalism or souvenir seekers picking apart the structures, but we did get some photos over the fence.  We were able to walk through the small cemetery and look at the gravestones there.  Some of them appear to be the originals, though others, even marking the graves of people who died in the 1800's, had obviously been replaced with more modern headstones.  A few were wooden, and there were several in the back row that said Ind (abbreviation for Indian) and a single name or nickname.

Then off to the road to the hiking!  It's so much fun to hike with them because they have taken us to places that don't appear on anybody's trail maps, but with which they are thoroughly familiar, and it's so nice to hike where it's not only uncrowded, but where you usually don't see a single other person.  And to have their running commentary on the things we see, the types of rocks, how different formations came to be, liberally sprinkled with funny tales of their past experiences in the places we've hiked, when they were leading group hikes or just with friends.  Jim gave us some pointers on how to proceed with caution and how to use our hiking poles to make noise in areas where unwanted critters may be, and helped us find the easiest way among the rocks and scrub oaks to keep us safe.  We quickly gained elevation and had some marvelous views of the valley below us, and saw a number of different rock formations than we'd seen thus far.  So much fun!   Trisha had been so wanting to have some native rocks and petrified wood samples to take home and put on our labyrinth, but in the national park taking anything out with you is strictly prohibited.  So, they took us to places today where there were so many beautiful rocks and pieces of petrified wood, and in an area where it was permissible to pick some up to take.  So Trisha was like a kid in a candy shop, trying to decide what to pick up--trying hard not to bet too heavy a haul, to weight down the RV!

We had a wonderful time hiking these mesas.  Jim pointed out areas where mountain bikers have built trails up and down that made your hair stand on end, just thinking about hurtling down the side of the mesa at breakneck speed, with cracks, crevices, rocks and boulders dotted the trails in many places!  Apparently on most weekends, bikers start coming here on Friday with their tents, finding open spaces to pitch their tents so they're ready bright and early Saturday morning to test their mettle against the rugged terrain going down the mesa.  We saw several people setting up campsites while we were up there.  Rain was starting and cut short our last hike a bit, but we had a delightful drive to St. George where they live and had a dinner at a great restaurant, sitting by the window, looking out over this incredible landscape!  What a tremendous day!!

Some pics:

Grafton Ghost Town--remember Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Kathryn Ross riding around on the bicycle--here is where that was filmed!  Raindrops keep falling on my head . . .

Grafton Cemetery

 Wooden grave markers, with names routed into the wood

 Some graves of Indians

 Never been on a national back country byway before today!  The picture on the signboard of a paved road is not exactly accurate!
 Purple sage along the byway
Views from up on top of Grafton Mesa

 Some of the smoothest part of the roads we travelled!

 Jim, up on a rock above where we were

 Jim pointing out some interesting geological features

 Wild berries on a juniper tree--used to make gin!
 Heading back down
Jim showing Trisha the best way down
 Guiding her down
Just hangin' out on a little precipice out over the valley floor!  As you can see, I needed a little more reassurance with my trekking poles!

 Looking down over an insane mountain bike trail down the side of the mesa

 Where the bike trail came out at the bottom

 Above:  some conglomerate rock--formed when river stones got naturally mixed with different types of sand/clay--essentially natural mortar--and then it hardened

Below:  beautiful cactus blossom
 Petrified wood

The road gets a bit more challenging
 Looking down on some varied formations on the valley floor--no way you can really get any depth perception from these photos--looks like this is just a small, almost flat rock--NOT!  It's quite large, tall and very steep.

 At the edge of the mesa

Hopefully you can get some perspective on how far down it was!

 Just chillin' on the rock, where we stopped to eat a bite, shortly before the rain started
Newly constructed yurt, with an awesome view
 Beautiful cactus, with purple buds about to pop out into blossoms

Sue Ann and Jim in front of their house
 Walking to the restaurant--what a view!
 Outdoor pool at their community center, where Sue Ann swims her laps every day--not a bad view when you're having your workout, don't you think??
Sitting down to a wonderful dinner (sunlight a little too bright on Trisha's face--sorry), what a way to end another great day!
 Vegan platter for dinner--yum, yum!!


  1. Jack, what do you think...did Gibson kill off one of the Badger girls and marry her sister? Also, it's obvious to me that you and Trisha have bought some smaller sized clothes on this trip. Keep up the good work!

  2. Jack, what do you think...did Gibson kill off one of the Badger girls and marry her sister? Also, it's obvious to me that you and Trisha have bought some smaller sized clothes on this trip. Keep up the good work!

  3. Not sure if I told you or not...the only way I could get this to publish was to use my son's google account, so it will always show up as "Scott"!

    Mary Lou

  4. Zion Canyon is the most visited part of the park because of its concentration of wondrous natural formations, from colorful sandstone monoliths such as Angels Landing, The Great White Throne and the Court of the Patriarchs to the hanging gardens of Weeping Rock and the Riverside Walk.

    Zion Mountain Bike Tour