Clearly, a smart person would have categorized this entire trip as being to Zion with some side hikes. But, I’m being stubborn and calling it the Grand Canyon trip because that’s what we intended it to be.
We had read some of the information on Capitol Reef National Park and it sounded like there was some good hiking and exploring to do there and it was within reasonable driving distance, so that became the evening plan, but first we had one more hike to do in Zion. It was a more out of the way hike, and certainly one of the less popular as a result. This was the journey to Kolob Arch, one of the two predominant arches in Zion, the other being Crawford Arch. It’s also a 14 mile round trip to get to the arch, which probably has some impact on its popularity. The fact that it’s a 30-45 minute drive out of the park and to a entirely different area also probably has something to do with it.
We started at Lee’s Pass Trailhead and descended into the valley wrapping around to follow LaVerkin Creek for a while and then following one of it’s tributaries up to the arch itself. It was often obvious that this was a drier time for the area as there were lots of temporary riverbeds and a few would have been waterfalls had there been more recent rain. Continue reading
First order of business for day three was moving to the Zion campground, because 1) I don’t like spending money and 2) when we pack a tent across the country, I get very disappointed when it doesn’t get used. The campground was full, but we got there early enough that there was just a small line and the ranger was letting cars in as people departed for the day. This meant we weren’t going to get much choice on sites, but we lucked out and got a site along the river.
Since I chickened out on Angel’s Landing the previous day, our primary hike for the day was going to be Observation Point – a longer hike that starts a bit further into the canyon and ends up above Angel’s Landing, but with less clinging to rocks.
The trail starts out with a lot of switchbacks, then leveled out for a while as it and went through a nice little slot canyon section. This was probably the coolest individual section of trail and we stopped for picture time on the way down. After that, the switchbacks resumed and then a final long, gradual climb around the rim of the plateau to the point itself, which is the highest viewpoint in the park and overlooks Angel’s Landing.
I think we started up sometime after 11, which meant we were climbing during the hottest part of the day, which is generally a bad plan, but it was also early season, so we got away with it. There is apparently also a trail to access the point from the top, so you technically don’t have to drive into Zion to get to the point and could backpack down into the canyon from there.
Observation Point is a pretty broad point – there’s a large area at the top where hikers kind of mill about, rest, have snacks, etc. There is a geological survey marker at the point, so you know you’ve achieved something. If you leave your backpack for more than a minute or two with food inside, the chipmunks will try to help themselves to your snacks as well. Continue reading
As mentioned previously, we decided to get up and head out in the early AM and try our luck getting passes for The Wave at the visitor center in Kanab, UT. We made two mistakes in this adventure.
We arrived at about 8:50, just before the 9:00 lottery, except that we were still on Arizona (Mountain) time and Utah is on Pacific Time. We were 50 minutes too late. This was soon discovered to be completely irrelevant though, since they had also gotten rain recently and apparently a high clearance, 4WD vehicle was the baseline requirement for getting to the trailhead… We had a Prius.
So, armed with the advice of the ranger at the visitor center, we headed to Zion, which was reportedly going to be less stormtastic over the upcoming days. There are definitely other cools things to see and do around the Kanab area, but we hadn’t really planned any and would have been playing a guessing game against the storms, so a return trip to Zion seemed to be the best option. Continue reading
A second from the Zion Narrows showing a bit more of the narrow canyon look, though I think this was not the coolest slot canyon that we saw on the trip.
Picture taken with Pentax Optio W60, lens @ 5mm (28mm eq), 1/80 sec shutter, f/3.5, ISO 100
Back from a 2012 hike through the Zion Narrows – this was probably one of the cooler hikes I’ve done, but still ranks second to the Lake of the Angel hike I think. Unfortunately, I only had the little waterproof pocket camera since it was an overnight and both space and weight were a concern.
Picture taken with Pentax Optio W60, lens @ 5mm (28mm eq), 1/100 sec shutter, f/3.5, ISO 100
Day 8 was The Narrows day 1. The hike almost ended before it began when we parked in the wrong place and walked up to the wrong bus stop. The shuttle driver called my phone, but I had turned it off and left it in the car given the expectation that it was going to be useless in the Narrows anyway. Luckily, he stuck around long enough to find us and we were on our way. Given that he bothered to wait around for us, and was friendly and informative on our way up to the trail head, I’ll say that this guy was the exception to the previously mentioned rule that the people working at Zion Rock Guides were oafs. It was about an hour and a half drive through twisty bumpy roads to the entry into the Narrows. Once we got there, our driver basically pointed us in the general direction we needed to go and said good luck since there wasn’t much more he could do. We used the bathroom and got ready to head out just as another van, presumably from the other outfitter showed up with eight or so more people.