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ZION

Wow!  This was a wonderful weekend excursion and I'm very glad that Ann set this up and we shared it together.  I took over four hundred photos during the two days we were in Zion Canyon National Park and I don't think any of them do justice to the awesome beauty of that setting.  The towering peaks were majestic and powerful and wonderful to behold.  The setting was idyllic and the trails were exercises in splendor as well as being exercises, period!

Here, for instance are two photos of the view from where we stayed that weekend - the Lodge in Zion National Park

The view out front of our room

The view out front of our room

Yeah, it was real tough waking up to that each morning!

That first morning we went out and did the Emerald Pools trails.  They were immediate adjacent to the Lodge and were rated as being pretty easy.  The weather was clear and quite hot even that early in the morning.

Starting out

This bridge here is over the Virgin River and that's the thing which carved out Zion Canyon and gave us the wonders we now enjoy in that park.

Emerald Pools view

The views from this trail were some kinda awesome and made a great introduction for us as we worked our way up the trails.

Emerald Pools Trail looking south

This shot above is looking south down the canyon.

Despite being surrounded by what is essentially a desert, the river running through the middle of the canyon provides for a wide range of vegetation.  These thistles being just some of the more notable beauties we saw in our trekking.

Thistles

The hiking was moderately strenuous along these trails.  Not so much due to their steepness rather it was due to the heat.  With the sun up, and with the trail very much exposed to it, things heated up rapidly.  As something of a reward though there was the Emerald Pools.

The Emerald Pool

This was a surprisingly large body of water nestled in amongst the cliff face.  Looking up at the rocks you could see how the water flowing through it over the centuries had caused the carving and sculpting away of its mass.  Even in the blasting heat the water was still flowing steadily through those rocks.

Ann and I both paused to enjoy the refreshing cool water on our bodies.  No, we did not drink from the pool.  To much algae in its waters along with its very much being part of nature made doing such an unwise idea.  Still though, it felt good to stand in and to splash on our skin.

A bit further along the trail we came out under one the many small waterfalls surging out from the rock face.

Emerald Pools waterfall

Part of the trail runs just above and to the right there in the photo.  The switch back nature of the trails made for a multi-layered exploration of the same terrain and that added to its intricate beauty.

under the fall

Note the chain anchored there into the rock on the right.  The waters flowing down from above could make that path rather slippery.  Still though, the view from this part of the trail was very much worth it.

under the falls

Working our way along the trail we came to a point directly under one such plume of water as it cascaded down.

water in motion

A rather impressive sight on that hot summer's day.

We made our way back down the rest of the trail and then rested and had lunch. 

Later in the afternoon we went off deeper into the Canyon.  Our first stop was the Weeping Rock trail.  This was a short one and was rather moderate despite its steepness.  The focus here was the numerous water seeps that abounded in that area.

This constant slow flow of water seeping out there the rocks had produced some rather interesting effects on the rock faces.

sculpted rock

That water also carried with it some spectrum of minerals and such and that, over time, produced some rather unique coloration of the rocks it sprang forth out of.

water springs

Here to, the water's flow produced a large undercut and the trail wound along it allowing us to look up at the water's flow....

under more falls

It also allowed for an excellent view down the canyon...

more canyon views

Weeping Rocks was a brief thing so we went on up the Canyon to reach the Temple of Sinawava and then hiked up that trail.  This was late in the day, a rather flat trail as it simply followed the Virgin River's bed, and it was also sheltered from the direct sunlight.

Here, the river was directly accessible from the trail and on a hot day like it was, folks made use of that.

The Virgin River

I can well understand why the first Americans to find this canyon viewed it as such a peaceful sanctuary.  The water of the Virgin River running through it has made the canyon exceptionally lush and did so in the midst of its awesome rock canyon walls.

Awesome awesomeness

The Temple of Sinawava trail is one of the easier ones in the canyon entrance to the park.  It gently follows the Virgin River upstream an in so doing the canyon walls begin closing in on it.

Looking upstream

more upstream

Heading toward the Narrows

At the Temple's end.

The Temple of Sinawava Trail's End

And that's the official end of this trail.

Trail's End

The picture above is of Ann standing at the last dry part of the Temple of Sinawava Trail.  Note the steps there on the right in the photo.  That's what you come down on to get to the river and then go further up canyon.  A few miles further up the river is the section they call "The Narrows" and that's where the canyon wall really close in on the river.

I wore my sandals for this hike and thus had no problem sploshing out into the river in them.

Shin deep in the Virgin

Ann, on the other hand, had worn her hiking boots and thus those weren't suitable for traipsing through the wet.  She had to go barefoot to stand mid-stream.

Beauty in mid-stream

It was a refreshing and lush little hike.  The next time we're in Zion National Park we'll make sure to both be wearing "river sandals" so as to be able to head up to the Narrows.

One thing I found interesting was the construction work that has gone into making the trails in this park as accessible as they are.  There was no roadway next to or near this trail.  But, it was a nicely paved trail just the same.  That meant that everything making it so had to be hauled up and along the trail.  Lotsa work involved there, even when the trail was essentially flat.  On the other trails, like the Angel's Landing for instance, that was some true back breaking work to haul not just the equipment up the canyon walls, not just the cement and building materials up those walls - but to also haul the water necessary to mix and pour that cement.  This, all by manpower not truck, crane or plane.  Pretty impressive.

I also found it interesting to see how the tourists reacted to the rodents along the trails.  It's like they'd never seen squirrels before!  I'll admit that they were cute in their lack of fearing humans but, in the end, they were just squirrels - squirrels like exist all over the world.

A bushy tailed rodent

This one here above had dug himself a little hole to place the nuts he had in his mouth.  Utterly unfazed by folks walking within inches of him on the paved trail there at the bottom of the photo.  These bushy tailed rodents really weren't worth noting.  At least to me.  For many of the folks on the trails that weekend they simply couldn't get enough of them.  Go figure.

The walk back the trail afforded more exquisite scenery to take in.

View down river

Steep canyon

And that was it on our first day in the park.

We got back to the Lodge, cleaned up, and then took the shuttle bus into town.  From there it was a stop at the "Spotted Dog Cafe" in Springdale.  Excellent eats and a nice way to end the day.

The next morning we caught more of nature in our midst.  The park has a sizable population of mule deer and they are quite blase about being around people.  On both days we saw mule deer walking through the hillside behind our hotel room.  Saturday night the deer were strolling around the lawn of the complex.  Sunday morning we arose to find that wild turkeys were also strolling the grounds!

Turkey in the morning!

Turkey in the morning!

And not small ones either!

After dealing with the turkeys on the grounds, and after breakfast at the Lodge (nothing spectacular there but nothing to really complain about) Ann and I decided to tackle Angel's Landing.

Angel's Landing

This was no small thing and was easily the most difficult trail we took the entire time.  The day dawned rather cloudy and cool.  That was to our benefit as we made our way along the initial portion of the trail.  That part hugs the west wall of the canyon and is thoroughly exposed to the blistering sun as it begins to rise up the rockface.

Starting up

Yes, there is a trail running through that picture.  It's a nice trail, actually, paved with concrete and an ample number of switchbacks - quite a few requiring no small amount of masonry to set up.  Toward the top at the middle there the trail makes its entry into "Refrigerator Canyon" and that was much appreciated.  Due to the steepness of the canyon walls and the overall direction of the canyon it is largely sheltered from direct sunlight for most of the day.  Thus it is quite a cool relief to enter after that steep ascent.

Refrigerator Canyon

This portion of the trail continues on for about a mile or so and has some rather intriguing scenery of its own as the rocks on either side have been naturally sculpted over the years.  I was particularly drawn to the very sharp angles of how the rocks formed.

Plate tectonics...

At the far end of Refrigerator Canyon is a series of switchbacks which take you up to the top of the ridge line.  Climbing that portion of the trail is known as "Squiggle the Wiggles" and it really seems like a conventional set of staircases when viewed from its start.

Squiggle the Wiggles

At one of the switchbacks, Ann found a perfect vantage point,  I think it's in this photo above and is the rock outcrop immediately above the folks in the middle right there.

First we got a group shot:

We Were There Photo #273

Then Ann clambered out onto the outcrop.

Ann in canyon

I really like how this one came out.  To the left of the photo there is a steep drop off down to the bottom of Refrigerator Canyon.  Behind Ann is a steep drop off to the start of the switchbacks.  But, perched there, is a perfect moment.

Next is was my turn:

My turn on the perch

No, those aren't stains on my shirt - it's sweat.  This was strenuous work hauling ourselves up over a quarter mile in elevation along that grade.  And facing us was even more of that steepness.

More switchbacks

Remember, all of these stones had to be hauled up the cliffside, hauled through the canyon, and then hauled up this trail as it was cut into the rocks.

And it was mighty steep just to the right of these photo above.

Steepness

Up at the top of these switchbacks is an area known as "Scout Lookout" and it's mostly flat and rather wide.  It's a good place to catch your breath and assess what to do next.

From Scout Lookout

As you can see in the photo above, despite its steepness and height, Angel's landing attracts a lot of folks.  The photo above is from the middle of Scout Lookout and faces east toward the rest of Angel's Landing.  In the middle of the image you can just make out the heavy stainless steel chain they've anchored into the rock for people to hold on to as they clamber up.

We made it up that portion to then be gifted with an awesome panorama around us.  Looking down we could see just how high up we'd come.

Looking down

That thin white blob thee about mid-way up in the photo, on the left of center, and hugging the canyon wall, is one of the tour buses.

Looking to the east we saw how much remained on the trail:

Angel's Landing

That right there in the actual Angel's Landing itself.

If you look at the ridge line there on the right in the photo you can just make out the individual figures of folks taking that last portion of the hike.  It is significantly steeper and much, much more narrow a trail than what we'd clambered up previously.  I decided we'd gone far enough that day.  I was not at all comfortable with the trail's narrowness as it was and that last portion there was even worse.

So, as we paused we took some more photos.

Atop the ridge

Another I Was There picture

I also really like this shot:

At the Peak

We walked a bit further out and got a couple of other good shots of us.

At the edge

That's Refrigerator Canyon dropping away there on the right of this photo above.

At the top

We looked again at the rest of the trail but we'd done enough for that morning.  So, we clambered back.  Along the way down to Scout Lookout we passed one woman who was coming up but was doing so absolutely glued to the rockface.  She was hunched tight onto the chain and inching her way forward.  Her husband was standing behind her.  Literally, standing.  Upright and with no need to hold the chain at all.  She was holding everyone up ahead of her and behind her.  She was clearly terrified of the height, the steepness, and the loose sandstone underfoot.  Like many other folks in the Park, she too was carrying two walking poles.  Hers were the collapsible metal type and she'd tucked them tight into her backpack in order to free her hands.  And her hand were death grip tight on to the anchor chain.  Of course, those walking poles stuck up out of her pack far enough to constantly get caught on things as she inched along.

I was actually impressed by her.

Despite her clear terror at facing the trail, she was still facing it and doing it.

Good on her.

As we worked out way back to Scout Lookout it began to rain.  In the photos above you can see how cloudy and dark it had already gotten.

Rain.

That downpour would've made it oh-so-much fun to have been on that last portion of the trail.  The rain was intense enough that it would've made the dirt and sand on those rocks turn into a wonderfully slippery goo that would've played merry hell with any traction.  plus the wind had picked up considerably.  And there was the possibility of lightning to.  Just the thing to think about when holding on to that nice long metal anchor chain...

All in all, I think it was a good thing to have headed back down when we did!

Of course, heading down meant heading down.  And that put a whole different strain on the legs when doing so.

Heading down

In the photo above we'd just come off the "Wiggles" and were making our way into Refrigerator Canyon itself.

Exiting the canyon we could now clearly see what we'd come up along earlier.

The trail up and down

The grade on this was steep indeed - but it was all nicely paved.

Paved trail

Lotsa switchbacks

Looking back up again, it's a bit clearer of where the trail is in the photo below:

Last look back up

There's several folks visible in this photo above - no Waldo though - and it was pretty impressive to have climbed up and down.

By the time we got all the way back down my legs were like jelly.  I was also very glad to have stopped descending as that down grade was much harder on the joints and such.

We decamped back to the Lodge where we showered and relaxed.  We went into town for lunch and then took a rest back at the Lodge.

Then it was down to the restaurant in the Lodge for dinner.  We decided to head into town that night to try and get some more decent coffee.  The stuff they serve at the Lodge didn't cut it.

Once back from town - and on one of the very last shuttle buses up the canyon that evening - we took in the stars and tried picking out the constellations after having spied a Park Ranger doing a bit of guided star gazing for a small group.  It was a brilliant night with the heavens providing most of the brilliance.

The next morning we were up and gone bright and early.  I filled my CamelBak from the Lodge's natural spring tap, and then we were off.

We paused at the Canyon's entrance for one last look at the splendor.

Canyon North


Canyon South

That peak there on the left in the photo above also happened to be the one used in the Zion National Park hat pin I got.  Fitting, that.

Our drive back to Las Vegas was quite smooth.  Zipping along the 15, we noticed that the highway's course tended to follow a river's course as it sliced down through the western edge of the Colorado Plateau.  The river was the Virgin River.  That's the same one that carved out the canyon we call Zion.  It's done some impressive work over the epochs.

This was a nicely impressive get away weekend and I'm really glad to have shared it with my Ann.







 

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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc

This page was last updated on: 02 August 2010