Back to Utah (Chapter One) by Diana Dikovsky, written at 6:40 PM on Wednesday, Oct 15 2008

in which we start our journey. Back to Zion NP. Lee and Mike put up a tent. A night hike. We miss the last shuttle. Mike carries a backpack for the first time (posing for a picture).

An absolutely clean sheet of paper.  An unnamed document so far.  Soon I’ll give it a name.  Chapter one.  Or maybe the chapter where we ran out of gas.  But that is the chapter Marina promised to write.  Hmm, a year ago. 


The thing is that it is nostalgia that makes me write now.  If we had gone back to Utah this spring, if our spring break had coincided with Venia and Max (that is if Max had gone), I’d probably never be writing this… If, if, if… As I am writing now, Max and Venia are back to school, Faina cannot wait to leave for Israel, and Marina is still thinking whether to join Sergey and me for Dry Tortugas NP.  As for Lee and Mike the Third, well it’s not hard to guess.  Their favorite destination… Yes, Vegas, the city of lights.  That is of light pollution, as rangers at Zion have said once.


So.  A year ago the five of us – Marina, Faina, Max, Venia and I were joined by Lee and his brother Mike, “a character”, according to the younger brother.  A backpacking investment has been made – a new tent, a new backpack, sleeping bags, and, if I remember correctly, a brand new pair of hiking boots, never worn, never broken in (for Mike).  And then, after almost a sleepless but direct (ha!) flight (with a delay) to Vegas and a night the five of us spent in the airport, after renting a car - our adventure began!  We decided to start in Zion – for great memories for those who had been there a few years earlier and a possible consultation as for where to explore Utah best. 


One of the funniest memories is Lee and Mike trying to figure out how to put up a tent.  I still remember my very first experience coming to Utah and being in the same shoes as Lee and Mike, that is, having absolutely no idea how to start.  Moreover, my tent happened to be so new and complicated that it had taken three experienced guys to finally pitch the tent!  So now, looking at Lee and Mike, we all felt it’d soon begin to get interesting.  And it did.  Trying to bend the metal poles and being in danger of getting blinded by them, Mike was hissing, “They’ve showed you in the store how to do it!”  Now.  We all know how easy things seem to be when you’re just watching.  To make a long story short, with Venia’s help, the tent was put up, and we all anticipated a pleasant night under the starry sky of Zion.  A flash forward.  There was nothing pleasant, according to Lee and Mike.  Lee was complaining the morning after that it hadn’t been a most comfortable night, and the two brothers were accusing each other of snoring.  


The same evening, having decided we didn’t want to waste any time, in the dusk, we took a shuttle bus and headed for an amazingly beautiful trail – Angels' Landing.  All the wise hikers were returning at the time of our ascent, but we were so convinced  there’d be enough time before the last shuttle that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, each other,  scaring each other hiding at a sharp turn (Mike of course!) and trying to find the spot on the trail we had sat years ago, hysterically laughing… Zion was magnificent at night time when all the day hikers were gone; the sky was all stars, the canyons were black monster silhouettes… The rocks were still warm with the memory of the day’s sun…  Max reminded us (not that we forgot!) how he had ruined the hike that year for everyone because of a very strong nature call…

In an absolute bliss, we were going back to the shuttle stop anticipating the warmth of our sleeping bags in the dampness of the night.  The shuttle was running late.  We waited.  In half an hour we started being suspicious.  We waited a bit longer.  What puzzled us, I remember, was that we were practically the only ones at the stop.  It started drizzling.  The shuttle was not there.  We checked the time.  We started walking towards the next stop.  Dark.  Not a single car, to say nothing of the shuttle. Slowly, reluctantly, we were beginning to realize that we simply had missed the last shuttle. Finally, the Lodge!   The lobby in the Lodge was warm.  It wasn’t drizzling there.  The couches we sat on were seductive.  There was no one in the lobby to advise us.  “Excuse me”, we said quietly.  “Excuse me!” we said louder.  “Hello!  Is there anyone there?!!!!”  We yelled.  Alas, all was quiet.  Lee and Mike welcomed the situation.  It was clear they had no inclination to hike back to the tents in the drizzle in the middle of the night.  The truth was that none of us was willing to do that…  All of a sudden, we heard another very timid, “Hello!” and the next moment confronted a lady who was looking forward to a quiet night in the Lodge.  She, poor thing, had no way of knowing that not only she’d find the Lodge deserted, that is without a night clerk,  but would have to take some of us back to our campsite and then drive on into the night.  That’s what happened.  The two (or three) of us somehow squeezed in her loaded car, then Venia had to drive back in our own vehicle, wake up Mike and Lee who felt cozy and warm sleeping on the couches, and drive back… 

Just checked the Gallery to see where a curious reader can find the proof of my story and saw – nowhere!  The only picture with Lee and Mike putting up their tent looks very friendly, I mean – the brothers look like there’s a great sense of camaraderie between them.  Mike is NOT hissing, and Lee is smiling happily.  And!  There’s no Venia in the picture!   The end.


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