I now know where I want to get my retirement home: southern Utah. Whodda thunk those Mormons would be keeping all the beauty to themselves? You’d think they’d be a little more generous, them being all religious and stuff. All I know is that I want a slice of that gorgeous landscape.
It was a super quick trip — not even a full day — but was enough of a taste to make me start thinking about plans to go back this fall to do Zion in the proper way. I flew into Vegas on Thursday night, rented a car and drove an incredibly dark I-10 through Nevada and Arizona en route to my hotel outside the park, and then woke up bright and early to see as much as I could in the limited amount of time I had.
It was a day of missing turns for me; on the way to the park, I thought I knew how to get there, didn’t turn on my GPS and missed my turn and toured a little more of southern Utah than I anticipated. And then once in Zion — this section of the park literally having only two roads in it — I missed a turn again and only realized it once I hit the outer boundary of the park with the little guard shack. If nothing else, I wouldn’t have seen the goats on the road if it weren’t for that detour.
A quick synopsis of my hikes: I did Canyon Overlook Trail, a short hike, less than a mile one way. After a steep but short uphill, it was fairly level as it wound through the rocks and then opened to a majestic view of the canyon below. There were a few slightly exposed areas on the hike, but nothing impossible to navigate for anyone except the most acrophobic.
After that, I finally got myself on the correct road and went to the trail that I intended to hike first thing — Angel’s Landing. Due to my extracurricular wanderings, I didn’t have as much time as I wanted, but I figured I’d give it my best shot. I got up the first part — switchback after switchback, fairly steep in some places, but always paved so traction and footing wasn’t a problem. After that the trail wound through Refrigerator Canyon, so named because it’s narrowness means that it doesn’t get much sun and stays pretty cool. And then — Walter’s Wiggles. Short, steep, brutal switchbacks — about a dozen of them? — that made me want to turn back even though I almost always had the end in view, it was so near.
After those switchbacks, I was on Scout’s Landing, a lovely scenic place to sit and regroup and enjoy a snack. I chit-chatted with some of the folks up there (like the back-of-packers in a race, those who hike are usually a friendly, talkative bunch) and eyed the climb up the Angel’s Landing. There were chains to hold on to, which made it seem more dangerous rather than safer. I noted my depleted energy, the non-hiking shoes on my feet and the time on my watch and decided to leave this for another day. It was a little sad, but I didn’t take much convincing, to be honest. Plus, I had a weekend in Vegas to look forward to and it wouldn’t be as much fun if I was recovering from a broken ankle.
I’m about out of words, but I’ll leave you with some of the photos I took. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so this ends up being like a 10,000 word essay. Not too shabby.