I was one of 300 lucky ticket holders who were allowed to walk through the mile-long tunnel at Zion National Park last night. As part of the Centennial, they blocked vehicle traffic making it “legal” for the eager participants to walk the length from top to bottom.
Everyone had different reasons for being there. Some had relatives who built the tunnel. Many remembered being able to stop at the open windows or “galleries” when they were kids and it was okay to do so. Many others just wanted to do something that will probably never be “legal” again in our lifetime. Of course some people (not mentioning any names) participated in the exhilarating and dangerous event of illegal “tunnel-running” in their youth, but they didn’t get to see much at midnight.
For me, this was a chance to grab my sketchbook and camera, to capture the unique views of Pine Creek Canyon, and East Temple that are only seen from those windows, and I was amply rewarded. I have sketches, I have photos, and most importantly I have indelible memories. Yep, I feel a painting coming on!
For Zion-lovers the evening was all we hoped it would be. The comraderie was wonderful, the combined enthusiasm was rivaled only be Christmas mornings past, and park service employees and volunteers went above and beyond to make this once-in-a-lifetime event possible. Kudos to everyone.
NPR’s Howard Berkes interviewed participants for the public radio show “All Things Considered.” If you listen to public radio you may have heard a quote or two from Lyman Hafen and me.
Link to NPR’s Radio program “All Things Considered” with quotes from walkers