Monday, August 27, 2007

Utah Day 6 - Zion

This will be the last of the Utah posts, so all of you who are wondering when I'm going to talk about knitting again can breathe a sigh of relief. I've enjoyed making these posts, and I hope you've enjoyed reading them, or at least that they didn't bore you to tears. I'll admit off the top that I'm disappointed in my Zion pictures, and they really don't do the park justice. I ran into a camera problem, wherein the dark rocks + bright sky didn't work together well and the sky turned white, as witnessed below: This is one of the views from Angel's Landing, which is quite a place. It's a hike that might give you vertigo, even if you aren't scared of heights. Me I'm good with heights but it was still a bit dodgy. More on that later.
Zion was the last day of our vacation, and Dave and I decided to go our own way so we could do some more vigorous hiking than we had done with our parents in tow. I really wanted to hike The Narrows, and although Dave had to be convinced of the wisdom of this plan, in the end he was really glad we did it. The Narrows, and other assorted narrow slot canyons, are what Zion is really famous for, and we were not disappointed. A few years back Zion instituted a park shuttle system to cut down on the traffic in the narrow canyon. Thus there are no passenger vehicles allowed, and everyone must ride the shuttle. I was down on this initially because I thought it would be slow and inconvenient, but in reality it was very efficient. The shuttles are comfy and run very frequently, plus on two of our trips we had great drivers who gave excellent background information on the park. The Narrows hike starts all the way at the end of the park, so we got to listen to our first driver the whole way there - we actually hoped to have him on the way back but had no such luck. To get to The Narrows, we hiked the Riverside Walk, where we saw this adorable fawn: I think he/she is used to posing for the camera, don't you? At the end of the Riverside Walk you get wet. When you hike The Narrows, you do it in the Virgin River itself, at varying depths ranging from ankles to midthigh. And deeper, when you lose your balance. The water was very cloudy (usually it's crystal clear, but run-off from recent forest fires made it quite silty and opaque) so it was really tough to find good footing. But we managed by holding on to each other, and we were so close to being back when I finally slipped and got my shorts wet. This is the view from our lunch spot, about 45 minutes up The Narrows. We didn't get to the narrowest part of the canyon, but what we saw was really quite impressive. The water was a perfect temperature for wading, and our soaked shoes and socks dried quickly in the desert heat. Here is my mom at the end of the Riverside Walk - I don't think she's actually standing in the water:We also hiked to Weeping Rock. This is a short hike that ends at an overhanging rock that is currently dripping water that is 1200 years old. Our shuttle guide told us that this water is from rain that fell on the rocks above some 1200 years ago and has taken that long to seep through the rocks, which is really quite amazing when you think about it. Later on the shuttle we saw even older water! Our strenous hike of the day was to Angel's Landing. It wasn't exceedingly long, but quite steep. There are warnings in all the guides and the park newsletter suggesting that if you have any fear of heights whatsoever this is not the hike for you. It was fine most of the way, until we got to the part near the top where they have installed vital helpful chains to aid in the ascent. The rock was slippery and a bit sandy, so I was definitely holding on to the chains for dear life. In the interest of full disclosure, and because I doubt you're the type to judge, we didn't go all the way to the top. We stopped at a flat bit just before final ascension, which looked almost vertical. We convinced ourselves that the scenery couldn't be that much better from up there, and ate almonds while contemplating this view:That, my friends, is what they call 'a long way down.' The skinny grey line is the road, almost 1500 ft down. The first photo in this post was taken from the same spot, looking the opposite direction. I was there. Please ignore the hat and the sweatiness - it was hot. On this hike we also saw a giant cactus:Dave is 5'9" - that is a big cactus. We hiked back via the Middle Emerald Pool, which was disappointing enough that we didn't take any photos of it, and I take pictures of everything. Drives Dave crazy but I figure since they're digital and I have a huge hard drive, what is the harm? Here's a parting shot from Zion - I'm pretty sure this has a name but I've lost it.Zion really is beautiful, and if you ever get a chance you should go there. As I said, my photos really don't do it justice. In fact, all of Southern Utah is quite nice. Too hot though, and if I go back I want to do it when the weather is significantly cooler. Dave and I are entertaining the idea of going to Bryce sometime in the winter or early spring, as the photos of snow on the hoodoos are spectacular. Overall I think the trip was a success - my parents and Dave's parents got along well, and we had no major mishaps. Come to think of it I don't believe we got lost even once, which is pretty impressive for the amount of driving we did. Then again, there aren't that many roads!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

lovely!