Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend Trip Part II: Zion National Park

I left off with us heading to Zion around mid-afternoon on the Saturday before the government shutdown.  This day also happened to be a free entry day of which there are only about 13 throughout the year.  Needless, to say, it was very busy.  After driving 12 miles through the park from the east entrance to the west entrance, we managed to swoop an amazing spot right up front at the visitor's center just as I was about to give up and go park in BFE.

After chatting with a helpful park ranger, Nicole and Mollie we decided that it would be fun to do another hike that day and check out the Emerald Pools.

Since our stellar parking space didn't grant us enough time to do the complete hike, we drove through the neighboring town of Springdale and found a place to park near a sports bar we decided to eat at later.  We then hopped the shuttle back into the park.  Then switched shuttles and headed north up the canyon to where our hike was.  The logistics of this trip just killed me, I tell ya.

The hike was a pretty tame one as we headed up the nice paved trail to the lower pool.  Sadly, since we were there in the fall, there wasn't much waterfall action to make the site truly spectacular, but you could definitely get the picture. 

As we walked around underneath the waterfall area, there was a huge chunk of rock that had fallen right on the walking path.  We assumed it had been there awhile.  Later, on our walk back down, we overheard someone say that it had just fallen the day before, but didn't really believe it.  Sunday we saw that that part of the trail was closed and heard it was due to the fallen rock.  YIKES!

Right as we were beginning our climb to the middle pool, we happened upon this cool area.

We had no idea why people were taking so long, but it proved to be a good chance for a photo op.   Once the people in front of us finally cleared, we saw why it was taking so long.


Scary tarantula!!!

I took a running leap over that dude and was afraid to look behind me. 

We were almost to the middle pool when we hit another road block.  I should have known, right?

This guy got the name Bob by a young child who was passing through.  I'm pretty sure the next twenty people behind also started calling him Bob as the name kept getting passed.  We later found out that it's tarantula mating season.  Just FYI to those who might have arachnophobia and are thinking of touring here in the late fall.

A little bit further past Bob and we made it to the middle pool.  Such a pretty view with the sun starting to come down.

We decided to keep venturing further to see the upper pool and were greeted with the best pool in my opinion.

So peaceful and serene up there.

Luckily Bob and Bob Jr. were both gone on our trek back down.  We snapped a photo over the river that cuts through the canyon before jumping back on the shuttle.

We had a delicious meal at the sports bar when we got back, but unfortunately no one in town carried the PAC12 network.  No go on the Ducks vs. Cal game.  We headed back through the park to Ponderosa Ranch, which was the only place not completely booked in the entire area.  Might be the scariest night driving I have ever done in my life.  We had a cabin that night, but the wifi didn't quite reach us very well from the lobby until they closed up shop at 10pm and we managed to then get all the bandwidth.  Of course the game was not very exciting by then so I didn't mind shutting it off early to pass out in bed.

The next day we got up bright and early to head back into the park.  Our first hike of the day was Angel's Landing.  I had already told the girls my hesitation about this one after reading about it online and seeing the pictures on google.  I knew the first two miles of the trail was going to be the only for sure part of my hike.  And even that was crazy.  Two miles of steep uphill switchbacks.

Starting out in the morning it was a little chilly so we were very bundled.

As soon as we hit the switchbacks my layers were shed!

You can see they put grooves in the path because it it so steep!

After a trip through a mini quiet canyon and more switchbacks called walter's wiggles, we made it to Scout's Landing.

This was originally where I thought I would park my caboose and wait for the girls, but I was somehow convinced/had a moment of fearlessness in which I thought I would actually make the rest of the trek.  It started out easy enough...hanging on for dear life to a wobbly chain while hugging my body as close to the side of the mountain as possible while not looking down on the other side to the shear drop off.  No, I did not take any pictures because there was no way that I would let my hand loose from that chain for even one second!

Chanting the Little Engine That Could mantra in my head I somehow made it alive around the curve of this particular stretch only to be greeted with this sight.


And that is the closest I got to completing Angel's Landing.  I sat with some other lovely/sane hikers who I got to know during the next hour as I waited for the crazy girls to finish the rest of the hike.

Since I didn't complete the journey, I've got some of their photos to show you all to completely freak you out.  AND a video.

Nicole on the way up.

The girls at the top.

Clearly if you can stomach that hike it's an absolutely INSANE view!

Nicole falling off the edge.

And a video Nicole shot to show off the beautiful view!

I know, right?  I chose life though.  I had to.  Who would take care of the fluff?  Who would feed my husband?!

Since I didn't get to see those spectacular views first hand, we decided to go a few miles into the rim trail so I could see everything from a little higher up.  Tacking on a few more miles.  Ain't no thang at this point.

We snapped a few more pics on the way down.

We had our lunch at the Grotto and decided to take it easy on the last hike of the day.  The Riverside Walk was a nice leisurely stroll along the waters that ends at The Narrows.  I guarantee you we would have been renting water boots and walking sticks had the girls had an extra day there.

Mini waterfall along the way.

View into the narrows at the end of the paved trail.

Heading back out.

That trail was crazy crowded with quite a few domesticated squirrels along the way.  They were clearly fed way too much food.  We saw one actually climbing on a person with no temptation at all.  Nuts.  Pun intended.

We called it quits early that night so I wouldn't have to brave the drive at night again.  We headed into town to pick up dinner at a market then sat out at the pool and fine dined with our wine contraband.  This night instead of cabin we stayed in this little beauty.

That's right, a covered wagon.  Jealous much?

It had nothing but three beds, a trash can, shelf, towels and a flashlight.  Luckily we had brought one more flashlight, so we were able to play a very competitive friendly game of Scrabble before bed.  The bathrooms were about 100 yards down the street so it was a no go on showers.  Temperature got down to about 30 degrees that night...we had to get sleeping bags from the front desk to make sure we didn't freeze.  I refused to drink any water before bed so I wouldn't have to leave the wagon in the middle of the night and get eaten by the wildlife.

The next morning we got dressed under the covers for fear of freezing off body parts.  With about four layers on we headed out for our final day of hiking.  The previously decided upon hike had been the Canyon Overlook but of course got switched on me to the Hidden Canyon because the girls wanted to put my life in danger again.

After some crazy planning to get back a phone left in the covered wagon, we were off on the hike.  The beginning wasn't too exciting.  Long switchbacks with a lot of views that were similar to what we had seen a lot of the day before.

Then we came to another one of those "hold on to the chain for dear life" spots.  Clearly I was a pro at this point and didn't even touch the chains...JUST KIDDING!!!

Man I wish I had at least taken a photo here, but I didn't.  We were too busy scurrying along trying not to fall to our deaths.

We did, however, snap one on the way into the actual Hidden Canyon that was a little less scary.  You get the idea.

We went a little ways past this sign.

But upon reaching this cluster of logs, decided it was probably best to call it quits.

One the way back we snapped a few more fun pics.

Mini pools (I'm sure there is a name for these of which I do not know).

And a sketchy walk out to the edge shot.

About 100 yards from the shuttle stop on the way back down I happened to run into a very hostile wasp who decided to take out his anger on my left thigh.  Postive note, at least he knew that I was about to embark on a four hour drive back to Springville and didn't sting my right leg.

On our way out of town we picked up Mollie's phone from the visitor center after the cook at the Ponderosa Ranch dropped it off on her way home.  Thank goodness for good samaritans.

A few miles outside of Springdale we happened to pass about ten Lamborghinis in a row heading toward the park.  I may or may have not busted Nicole's eardrum from screaming so loud.  I mean, come on...ten?!  In a row?!!  In Utah??  Apparently there was some sort of event a few days prior up in Salt Lake. 

We had an awesome shrimp and chicken kabob dinner that night with Chris when we got home and polished off a few bottles of wine.  The girls decided to hike the Y at BYU then next morning and my legs said, "here're the car keys...have a good time!"

When the girls got back it was time to pack up and head to the airport.  We gave ourselves a little bit of extra time to take the scenic route through Park City.

We didn't get to see much as we were short on time, but we did manage to snap a quick shot with a yeti.

I caught a few of the girls enjoying the spectacular fall views of the slopes as well.  You can actually ski/snowboard straight into town over that bridge when it's snow covered here.  So cool!

Same shots Chris and I took a few weeks before!

Approximately 1 hour and 48 minutes after this photo was taken I was curled up in the fetal position on my bed vowing to never hike again.  That lasted for three days due to Rachel arriving and us heading to Moab that Friday.  But more on that later...

And thus ends the crazy, eventful weekend of Bryce and Zion.


  1. What Mary said. ^ Also, loved the photos, such gorgeous country!