Let's get hiking

Zion National Park Travel Blog

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Note to Park Service: the seasons have changed.

Awoke to sunlight and camp sounds: someone chopping wood to start a fire, the opening and closing of car doors, the zzzzzip of a tent flap. I glance over at Adam and he's already looking at me with one eye, smiling that mischevious grin of his since he's knows I'm cranky in the mornings when I haven't had my coffee. Yup, it's time to get up off the hard ground and get the day started.

Camp mornings are my favorite. You're usually up and outside sooner than you would be in everyday life. Being outdoors early in the morning is unique. The light is softer, the air still cold, and you get the sense of things slowly awakening. Unfortunately this peaceful reverie was quickly dashed as I opened up our cooler only to discover that the one thing Adam forgot to pack was my coffee creamer.

Scouts Lookout on route to Angel's Landing
And we had no sugar. Now, I do need my morning cup but I don't drink it black. Especially not instant coffee black...it's already gross enough. With water boiling and the grains sitting in my cup I realize sadly I have no choice but to have it black (not having any is somehow not a choice). Suprisingly it doesn't taste as bad as I thought. Perhaps it's that everything tastes better when camping.

Hiking the famous Angel's Landing was our primary goal for today. Just a little ways beyond the lush green grass in front of historic Zion Lodge is the trailhead. Unfortunately the lot was already full by the time we got there around 10:15, so we had to backtrack to a little pull-off on the side of the road. We parked and walked along a sandy trail following the Virgin River back to the trailhead.

Adam with his new camera
It was cold as the sun had yet to rise high enough over the peaks to coat the valley with warmth.

The trail starts steep and then is just up, up, up for almost 2 miles on a roughly paved trail. The morning sun glinted around cliff walls and eventually up over the plateau. We went from cold to hot in just a few switchbacks. Periodically Adam would stop and shoot scenes with his HD camera. He lugged that baby all the way up. When he stopped and set it up on the tripod, we got stopped by all assortment of people. Some wanted to discuss the type of camera Adam had, some wanted to know what we were doing. I secretly thought that we should have made up a cool story about why we were filming, like that we were with the Discovery Channel or something, but I figured Adam would think that was silly.

Imagine living on the side of this cliff...
It was a cool way to approach the hike though. I think he got some amazing shots. Fallen leaves from last season still laid on the ground even as new buds were forming. Other hikers voices echoes off the canyon walls. And still up we went until we reached the point of no return to get to Angel's Landing.

Scouts Lookout--the last moment of safety before deciding to take the dangerous last 1/2 mile out to the Landing itself. Families and old ladies sat on the rocks at Scouts, content to take in the majestic views from there. But not us--no, we wanted to make it all the way to the Landing. Adam packed up his camera and took a nervous look at the narrow ledge we were about to attack. Being a little fearful of heights I wasn't sure if he was up for it, but we couldn't come this far and not make it to the end.

Now it's getting dangerous...the final stretch to Angel's Landing.
As we set-off I started a conversation with Adam about the view, but he quickly silenced me with a "not now, I need to concentrate." So we navigated the trail in silent concentratrion, transcending fear even as we saw the way the cliffs dropped off sharply on both sides of us. Even as we slipped on sandy rocks and gripped the medal chain bolted into the rock as tightly as we could. Navigating the last 1/2 mile was exhilerating, a bit unnerving when we manoeuvred for space with returning hikers, and in the end so very worth it.

Alleluia! Angels: we have landed. The wind blew more briskly up here, our sweat chilling us through. But there was that "must see" view spread out on all sides. Red cliff walls, green pines jetting out every which way from solid rock, the Virgin River winding through what looked like soft green carpet far below.

We transcended! Us on top of Angel's Landing.
While Adam filmed I listened to conversation around me. Seatled on a nearby rock a man nervously reached into his pocket and produced a box and a marriage proposal to his girlfriend. Obviously shocked she shouted yes and then said her fingers were swollen from the hike and she didn't know if she could get the ring on. A proposal in the heavens. So romantic.

Eventually we headed back. Going down the rocks was scarier, but we navigated like pros. The rest of the decent was quick: down, down, down to be grounded once again among mortals. We ate our smooshed turkey sandwiches off the back of Adam's truck. It wasn't too late in the afternoon so we decided to go to the end of the park and walk the paved and easy "Riverside Walk." This short trail culminates at the start of the Zion Narrows canyon.

Voila! (Just don't look down)
At the end of the trail you can walk down among rocks to the river shore. As we take in the scene Adam looks at me and asks how adventurous I feel. We see people wading awkwardly across the river and decide we too should do this. Stupidly as it would turn out. The first time across we went barefoot. Well, about three big steps in and 2 things quickly became apparent: 1. the water is damn freaking cold and 2. it is slippery as hell. Unfortunately this does not really sink in until it is just as far to turn back as it is to keep going. After moments of panic and frozen limbs I manage to make it across to shore. My legs shake for awhile as we put our shoes on sans socks. A little further down the shore we realize we must cross again. This time we left our shoes on.
Off on adventure...Adam and I at entry to Zion Narrows.
This made it less slippery but no less cold.

We finally cross here, film a bit, discuss how sucky being caught in a flash flood would be, and then gather our courage for the return. By that point I'd been out of the water just long enough to think that maybe this time it wouldn't be as cold. Wrong! Both times back across are more silly, self-inflicted agony. By the time we're back to the trail we are numb and smiling sheepishly. The shots on Adam's camera better be good. Adventure indeed. We slopped back to the car in our wet shoes, hoping they would dry out before the next days hikes. Tired, but fulfilled we headed back to camp. As I said earlier I like camp mornings with the new light. But down here in Zioni nothing looks as good on the red rock as the late afternoon sun.

Looking upstream into the start of the Zion Narrows
Warm, soft, sun.

Back at camp the crazy fire ants were going crazy around our fire pit. An evil scheme takes hold. I put on a pot of water to boil and, when ready, poured it over the unsuspecting colony of mean, firery red ants. Mwahahaha. Boiling to death would be an awful way to die. As we let the water do its work we sit back, sigh, stretch, and relax.

And there were tons of stars out tonight. More than I could count.

AndiPerullo says:
What beautiful photos and great writing! Thanks for reminding me how great the USA is. :)
Posted on: Apr 15, 2007
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Note to Park Service: the seasons …
Note to Park Service: the seasons…
Scouts Lookout on route to Angels…
Scouts Lookout on route to Angel'…
Adam with his new camera
Adam with his new camera
Imagine living on the side of this…
Imagine living on the side of thi…
Now its getting dangerous...the f…
Now it's getting dangerous...the …
We transcended! Us on top of Angel…
We transcended! Us on top of Ange…
Voila! (Just dont look down)
Voila! (Just don't look down)
Off on adventure...Adam and I at e…
Off on adventure...Adam and I at …
Looking upstream into the start of…
Looking upstream into the start o…
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Zion National Park
photo by: rsvpme