While visiting with the park ranger (mentioned in the last post) who was so helpful with her trail suggestions, I asked her if any would be preferable… photographically speaking… early or late in the day. Thankfully she had some knowledge of my reason for asking and was able to make a few suggestions. She felt the Canyon Overlook Trail would be best near sunrise. So… the day after my Subway hike I rolled out early for another drive up Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and through the tunnel to the trailhead. This was a moderate mile-long hike to a very pretty vista of the canyon. If I had to compare it to other favorite hikes I’d enjoyed in the park it wouldn’t be at the top of my list, maybe because it didn’t challenge me, nor did it deliver me to a vista I hadn’t see from better angles. .
My highlight on that trail was a pair of Big Horn Sheep who stood watching me without twitching an ear or batting an eye for a very long time. I joked with another hiker near me that they must be fake, put there on that hillside to attract visitors. We chuckled in amusement at the possibility. The landscape… continued to woo me in every direction…
One thing there is no shortage of in and near the campground is deer. They seemed to have a grazing pattern, and within a day or two I knew when and where I would see them. One “family” in particular grazed very close to my site… a young buck, doe and “tween” aged fawn. She (I imagined) was taken with Jazzy and Sadie. Watching her watching them so closely, I could only imagine her wishing to come out and play. She was adorable.
Angels Landing… is without a doubt one of the most spectacular hikes I have ever experienced! It’s listed as strenuous in the handouts, and what makes it so is the elevation change… almost 1500′ in about 2.4 miles. It’s very doable for anyone in good condition, with easy paved trail much of that way. Even those fearful of heights can enjoy this hike. I strongly recommend, however, following boundaries that are comfortable for you, and not letting anyone push you beyond your limits. Once near the top the trail follows the edge of a very high cliff. Chains are provided for those daring enough to follow them. I did… but only to a certain point. I pondered long and hard about continuing to the end, but as a solo hiker the option didn’t feel right to me at the moment.
This was my stopping point. One of the most stunning vistas I have ever seen. Behind me… to my right and my left are sheer drops of nearly 1500 feet. What made it all the more remarkable for me was experiencing the canyon below me in great detail only days before. It was absolutely incredible to look down from my perch on Angels Landing at the itty bitty spaces I occupied in the canyon only days before… while looking up in awe.
So… what kind of travel blogger would I be if I didn’t strongly recommend driving the canyon first… taking every opportunity to stop and look up… and then hike to the landing. If the weather is warm set out early and take plenty of water. (I should add that I encountered at least thirty times the humanity on my way down as I did the rest of the day.) Even if you don’t make it to the landing, the vista from this trail is worth seeing at every switchback.
There is not much left of the nearby historic town of Grafton, but I found it worth the drive to see this bit of history. Interestingly several movies where filmed here, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Again the time had come to prepare for my next move. Tomorrow I would set out for another long-awaited place on my “bucket list”… Bryce Canyon. I spent my last evening in Zion… under the comfort of the Watchman…reflecting once again on the beautiful diversity of this country
I found it incredibly hard to drive away from Zion. There were many trails yet to be discovered by me. It was only the lure of Bryce Canyon that put me on the road that day, and the knowledge that I would return to this remarkable place.
I made my way to Bryce via I-15 because there was a corner of Zion National Park I still had on my radar…Kolob Canyon. Amazing that I’d never heard of this place. Ugly stepsister? I think not! While experiencing my never-ending frustration with limited access to the internet I had little opportunity to plan ahead, but hoped for enough space at the visitors center to park The Beast and enjoy a drive through the canyon in my car. The “travel gods” were good to me. I parked the beast as hoped and spent a few hours driving up the canyon and hiking a couple of trails as far as dared with the dogs waiting patiently in the car.
I don’t know how to adequately describe the nourishment I find is these places. I am… astoundingly for the first time… reading the writings of John Muir right now. How kindred his spirit feels to mine. How tremendous it would have been to know him!
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir