Category Archives: Reflections

Filson Outdoor Clothing Features ZAC Guide Ben Rhinesmith

Our very own Ben Rhinesmith was recently profiled in Filson’s “In the Field” section of their website. In the video, Ben guides the Filson crew down Battle Creek, a high country canyon southeast of Kolob Reservoir, while talking a little bit about his guiding approach and philosophy.

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Travel Journal: One Wild and Precious Life

Sitting on the Seattle Link train, I was immensely entertained watching a little girl playing with her mother; making faces, burrowing her face in her mom’s shoulder, and asking questions about the passing scenery. Across the isle from me, a man was watching the pair with furtive glances. His eyes revealed the simple pleasure of seeing someone completely free. There was something in his expression, however, that did not fit. His eyes betrayed a tremendous smile, but, with visible effort, he kept his mouth tightly shut. Something kept him from expressing how joyful the moment was. I didn’t get to see it, but I bet his smile splits his face from ear to ear, is filled with big white teeth, and is often accompanied by rolling belly laughs. I have thought many times about all that was contained in this moment. Seeing the struggle on the man’s face reminded me that I am robbing the world of joy when I do not express myself fully. I was on my way to visit a Waldorf school, that morning, where I hoped to learn how this alternative program addresses self expression. My friend, Massimo is being home schooled with a Waldorf curriculum, … Continue reading

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Travel Journal: On the Bright Side

Greetings from Zion! I am back after a few months of (F)unemployment and have many adventures to reflect on. I found people to let me sleep on their floors all over the country, had opportunities to play in the mountains, snow, oceans, and cities, and did my best to learn something every step of the way. Starting the spring season at Zion Adventure Company, I am optimistic. Anticipating my return to Utah, I had some great discussions about what had guided my travels, and what ultimately was bringing me back to Zion. It is hope. I don’t know if it is inherent in the landscape, the people, or in myself, but there is something that pulls me towards the chance to discover a better version of myself. The opportunity to test myself against a new challenge is all the impetus I need. My quest to learn to surf this winter is a perfect example of this. I have a vision of myself riding waves with fluid easy movement, and with only a vague notion of what surfing was about, I stepped on a plane and allowed my hope to carry me into the unknown. Being a guide and instructor, it would … Continue reading

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Mountain Top Reflections: Perception

“Perception is reality.” This is the golden rule of business marketing, which I heard repeatedly in my college business courses. While I have always held an aversion to the idea of the manipulating anyone’s reality for business purposes, I feel like this perception/reality concept is much more interesting and pertinent in my personal life, and I have been reflecting on it lately. I was talking about relationships with a client this week, and I found her vocabulary interesting. She referred to herself as “unmarried” (instead of “divorced”); instead of saying “ex-husband,” she said “my children’s father”. At first, I thought she was avoiding reality, or demonstrating some hip, progressive vocabulary. For a couple days afterwards, I thought about these unusual labels, and it eventually dawned on me this woman was not trying to evade judgment for getting divorced, but simply use vocabulary that framed her world in a way she found helpful and positive. I am so used to thinking about divorce as a failure, I have difficulty reframing it; my client was shifting the perception, and identifying things for what they are rather than what they are not. Genius. Talking about your ex-husband emphasizes the end of a significant relationship, … Continue reading

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Living in Fear or Living in Love

At the end of each summer season, we witness thunderstorms, tarantula mating, and the shift from full-speed guiding and outfitting to a more casual pace. It’s also the time when ZAC staff members and many other folks around Springdale make decisions about where they will live and work next year. At Zion Adventure Company, it can be challenging and emotional to consider what our community will look like in the upcoming year… How will we cope with the loss of key Adventure Team Members and what new characters will join our ranks in 2012? For my own part, I have great difficulty predicting where I’ll be in the future. I find it hard enough to envision where I will be during the coming weekend, let alone the next calendar year. Perhaps it’s in my nature to create situations in which I must embrace the last-second developments and allow my situation to direct me one way or another; it seems to have worked for me thus far. Yet now, once again, I struggle with the question, “Where will I be next year?” And short of banging my head against a wall, I have battled with influences that pull me in many … Continue reading

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Author Says Canyoneering Helps Teens (and Parents) Grow

Parent/teen relationships are amongst my favorite to experience on guided trips because novel outdoor activities can create such level playing fields between generations. Unlike all the things parents and their kids do at home, canyoneering (or climbing or mountain biking) is generally not something the parents have a depth of experience with. And so, when learning a completely new activity, parents and teens find themselves on common ground, both having little to no idea that they are doing. In fact, teens usually have the edge. Since most teens are in school, they are typically more practiced with learning and critical thinking, so they often consume and process information more easily. In addition, older teens are near their athletic prime, whereas their parents are typically falling into various states of disrepair… another advantageous element for the teens. Last, teens often benefit from a more eager, risk-perverse nature, so they can be much less hesitant and seldom suffer from “analysis paralysis” like adults can. All this adds up to giving the teens a good chance of out-doing their folks, and the effect this can have on parents is incredible. All this to say, it’s rare for parents to create opportunities for equal standing with … Continue reading

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ZAC Memories from Chris & Steve Sponagle

We have received some great notes, letters, poems, and questions in response to our call-out for client stories to celebrate our 15th Anniversay. Thank you! Here’s another good one, from the Sponagles up in Wisconsin. We have been VERY blessed to have experienced many fun adventures with our friends at Zion Adventure Company, but two particular remembrances stand out for me.  The first was a trip with Dave and my husband Steve back in 2008 when we spent a day getting wet in Battlecreek.  It was during that trip that my excitement for canyoneering stuck and we realized that with a little extra work, we could actually develop the skills to explore technical canyons on our own.  Several years and many canyons later, we continue to return to Utah on a regular basis to play.  The second stand-out moment was on a trip to Lake Powell in 2010.  After spending a spectacular day exploring a rarely seen canyon with Jonathan, we spent the night sleeping out under the stars on a sandstone bank – absolutely mesmerizing!!!  Congratulations on your anniversary and here’s to the wonderful adventures that still lie ahead! Chris & Steve Sponagle

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Guest Blogger Myra Yanke: Adventures in Zion and Beyond

Once upon a time, I thought a Rick Steves guidebook was the key to adventure.  This is the story of how my horizons have broadened since then. August 2007: I come back to America from my second trip to the Jungfrau region of Switzerland and rave to my parents about the fabulousness of my trip. I shake my head sadly when they counter with descriptions of their second trip to southern Utah. Why are they so insistent on staying in America, land of Wal-Mart and McDonalds? There’s a whole world out there! August 2008: I come back to America from hiking the Haute Route, Chamonix-Zermatt, and rave to my parents about the fabulousness of my trip. Glacier hiking! High-mountain hostels! I shake my head sadly when they repeat that I really should try Utah. Staring at a bunch of rocks? I think not. May 2009: I board the plane to Las Vegas with my parents, hoping I won’t be too bored over the next 17 days. The itinerary: Bryce – Moab/Arches National Park – Havasupai – Zion. I reason that by going, I’ll be strengthening my position that my parents should get passports. I’ll be able to say “I’ve been … Continue reading

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ZAC Memories from John Heusler

This in from John Heusler, a guy who’s been with us since the beginning. Thanks, John! Wow… so much to say about Zion Adventures. Jonathan is without a doubt hugely knowledgeable and insightful about his craft. Besides being a great businessman, he is a heck of a nice guy to boot. We first met just about 15 years ago, when the company was in its infancy, on a cold February day. Jonathan outfitted us with dry gear to hike up the Narrows. He warned us of all the dangers and also pointed out the details of what to look for in terms of beauty. Things like “pictures in the rocks.” Keep your eyes peeled for lots of subtleties that are, in themselves, breathtaking. Ice was everywhere, but it didn’t stop us. We hiked all day and arrived back just in time for them to close the shop. What a trip it was! Since then I have hiked just about every single hike there is in Zion, and every time, I stop in for gear and help from the helpful staff at Zion Adventure Company. NEVER will you find a more accommodating group than this one! Kudos my friends! Congratulations on … Continue reading

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ZAC Memories from The Lexington School!

Few clients have been with us as long as The Lexington School, who celebrated fourteen years in a row with us in May. Long-time TLS leader, Frank Hardesty, is one of our very favorite school administrators, and blessed us with fantastic opportunities, even when we were small, broke, and without much experience. Thanks to Frank for believing in us, and for bringing so many great Lexington kids to Zion year after year! Jonathan, Lots of special memories with you guys and The Lexington School over the years. If it is fifteen years in business, TLS must have been in on the fledging of the company. Been a long time… and a good time. You guys have been great and have inspired me… and many of our eighth graders. Thanks for safety, for inspiration, and for creativity. I would love to be at Springdale for your celebration. However, I am invited to raft Green River (Lodore Canyon) with my son and grandson and others the last of September, and twice to Utah in such a short time is a stretch for my retirement budget. I know you will enjoy a big party. Give Catrin and Massi big hugs. I am officially retired … Continue reading

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