Zion National ‘Pivot’ Outing

A dozen and a half of T648’s finest headed out early with high hopes of beating holiday traffic, and getting to our North Rim campsite before 10PM.  Those hopes were soon dashed. A trailer tire blow and shred sent tire and fender shrapnel flying all over the 51, leaving black smudges all over the trailer wall and a nasty mark on the troop escort vehicle (sorry Dr. Blair!).  Time to pivot!  Driving on the rim to the edge of the freeway, our dynamos changed the tire in 20 mins – not NASCAR, but dang good, considering all the obstacles of getting to tools with gear everywhere.  With the spare now on, and a gas station right there on Bell to air it up, what do we discover, but dry rot.  Not to worry, we pivot again, and Discount Tire is but a mile down the road.  An employee came out with his best scout sign while citing the scout law, and hooked us up with 3 new tires (take that, dry rot!). Since us 9 guys (and a gal) with those two vehicles filled up at 5 Guys in the meantime, Mr. Benyi calculated that the entire adventure had only cost us 45 minutes up to that point.  However, the semi with its wheels in the air at Sunset Point conspired to slow us back down again, and despite side tours through downtown New River and Black Canyon City, the majority of us didn’t get to our destination of Jacob Lake until after midnight.

With enthusiasm undeterred, our 12 T648 scouts had an uproarious time in the circus tent, and still managed to roll out of bed and begin the breakfast burrito brigade at 6AM. Then it was on to Zion, of the magnificent red rocks and limestone cathedral rock formations. But first, a side trip to another natural wonder, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Vast expanses of fine powdery sand swirled up into mountains beckoning to be conquered. And the methods of scout conquest were equally vast – boogie board, luge (single, two man and even four-man utilizing a Costco box), surfing, sand boarding, full body rolling, striding, high stepping, running, and then sprinting, trudging, and even crawling back up the mountain to try it again. When the temps hit 105, it was time to head to Zion of the magnificent red rocks, and white limestone cathedral-like rock formations. On the way, we encountered the narrow, windy 1.1 mile tunnel carved through a mountain in 1930. After ranger machinations with a tape measure, it was determined that the tunnel needed to be closed down to one way traffic for our little troop trailer to safely make it through. A late lunch, playing in the Virgin River, football, cards, advancement, and a late dinner of four types of Dutch oven chili brought a wonderful hot day of pivots to a close in the troop Big Top tent for much needed slumber.

A windy Sunday morning started even earlier, with the scouts beginning with a terrific Dutch oven mountain man breakfast started shortly after 5AM Phoenix time. To make the most of our day, lunches were squirreled away in day packs. Then it was on with the water shoes, and off to the shuttle to the world famous ‘Narrows.’  Under the shadow of the spectacular Angels Landing, the scouts plunged into the Virgin River, and splashed our way upstream, over rocks, through white water, beneath towering canyon walls.  We water-walked 7 ½ miles round trip, making it all the way to the split, where permits would be needed to continue further upriver. After lunch, we headed back down river.  The sun was blazing, the river was cold, so being half in and half out of the water, in the words of Goldilocks, we were all ‘just right.’  Back in camp, we had a personal ranger lecture in our campsite on the benefits of conservation in the desert, followed by a football game on the road.  As the sun set on Watchman Mountain, beef stroganoff and cobbler cheesecake were spectacular ends to an almost perfect day.

Labor Day morning started in the dark, as the scouts determined that this time we would beat most of the traffic back to Phoenix.  Unfortunately, Murphy was back at work with his law, however, and as we waited outside the tunnel for it to open for trailer escorts, we discovered a 5 inch steel spike in a tire on Mr. Nachtrab’s trailer-pulling truck.  With no spare (used the previous week), we pivoted yet again.  Dr. Gimbel magically created three more seatbelts in his vehicle by cramming all his gear in the overfull trailer, we hooked the trailer to Dr. Blair’s car, and in the two remaining vehicles went in search of open tire stores in the desert on Labor Day.  After 2 hours to Page, we determined that Mr. Nachtrab would grab a rental and spend the rest of the day arranging a tow from St. George, finding a tire (which finally ended up being in Flagstaff on Tuesday), and the rest of us would head for home.  Thanks to construction barriers on I-17 and a typical holiday afternoon mess down the hill, we managed to use the remainder of Labor Day getting home.  In the final analysis, the scouts were all in agreement.  A trip that never had us getting where we wanted to be on schedule, that had two tire failures resulting in the purchase of 9 new tires, driving back and forth all over northern Arizona is a spectacular time if it is in the company of each other, with great food, and the 5th rated top adventure location (Zion’s Narrows) in the world as our playground.  In the words of Mr. Nachtrab, who finally made his grand entrance back into town by bursting into our Tuesday night troop and committee meetings finishing up at 8:30PM – “When’s the next outing?  Let’s go!’

‘Thar she blows, Captain!’ – Pivot #1 right out of the gate
Heard around the breakfast table – ‘That’s a heck-ton of eggs!’
Ready to conquer Coral Pink Sand Dunes – temperature of the sand at 10AM – 95 degrees
Heard around the sand dunes – ‘When I hit bottom, I tried to breathe and sand came out my nose!’
Overheard – ‘Look! – when you spit, it turns into a brown ball and rolls down the dune!’
Who needs a disco ball when you have a circus tent?
Finally! Heading into the Narrows.
Our river walking pace setters
A common view of the towering canyon walls, shielding us from the 103+ degree weather
The Narrows end – from here on would require a permit
Starting a new dessert tradition? Delectable sopaipillas if you pleeazzz
The brain trust working on yet another tire-related pivot event. ‘Ready? Let’s go!!’