September 25, 2015
I am troubled by a recent occurrence. Two of my favorite things, eventful weather and National Parks, have managed to intertwine in a bizarre, unsettling and tragic way. My experiences pull me in opposite directions. On a tightly scheduled vacation with friends or family, I can safely say, a 40 percent chance of showers would probably not prompt changes to the daily plan. On the other hand, one brief exposure to the slot canyons of Zion Canyon, even on a dry, safe summer day had me thinking, “this is one scary place!”. The primary canyon of the Park is narrow enough. But deeper in, sheer walls that tower 2000 feet high narrow to just a few feet wide. These are Slot canyons, like a coin slot, very, very thin. You would not want to be at the bottom of this narrow, water scoured channel if there were any runoff at all. Oh no, is that a dark cloud? At the bottom of those canyons very little sky is visible. Much greater minds than mine have wrestled with National Park policy. The delicate balance between public safety and unrestricted access to our nations wildest lands is always a challenge. I am not sure anything should change. But after 25 years of jumping for every Flash Flood Warning in a client’s listening area, 7 fatalities at such a place of awe and adventure, seems an awfully high price to pay for a day in the wild. How did all the safety measures fail in this particular situation?
More thoughts next time