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A Sanctuary in the Desert

Zion National Park has likely been our most difficult park to date. Even for a desert as lush as the Zion canyon, the red rock landscape cliffs provided a backdrop that seemed to intensify the heat, as it rose to 102, 104, 109 degrees in the heart of the mid-June heat wave.

It was here that our process became vital. Even those who know it well will admit the desert is an acquired taste, and this was just our first visit. As we struggled to adapt, our interviews with locals became more important than ever. Only in this way were we invited to see the desert through the eyes of those who love and respect this place. Respect came easy for us, but it was only through their passion and enthusiasm that we saw the desert as a lush and generous landscape.

We leave Zion with another stack of books (we’re building the best library ever!), from the quintessential “Water, Rocks, Time” to “Why the North Star Stands Still,” a book of Paiute legends. Before we make our way into Yosemite National Park, we keep these following themes from the desert in mind.

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A Little Nibble by James Marvin Phelps
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A Little Nibble Yellow Bellied Marmot Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Thursday I defend my masters thesis in which I accurately date the Claron Formation of Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument. I compared the deep sea benthic foraminifera d13C record to the d13c record from the Claron Lake System. Before starting the project I was stunned by the fact the dates for the Claron Formation were not better constrained, especially since they hold a spectacular record of past climate change. Long story short I have accurately dated one of the places I love and I’m proud of it. 

I’ll let you guys know the details once the paper is published… 

This was a freezing but beautiful sunrise from the last time I was at Bryce Canyon. It was perfect.