Thursday, April 29, 2010

And More Hiking at Zion


The above picture was the front windshield of a big Class A parked across from us. It looked like they had a mural painted on it but it was just the mountains reflected on the glass.

We are still finding new trails to hike here. Took the shuttle on Tuesday to the lodge and did the Emerald Pools hike. There are three different levels of waterfalls and pools. Last year we just took a stroll to the lower pool,so this year we did the entire trail. They call them emerald pools because of all the green algae. You could walk under the lower falls.

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The middle pool.

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The upper pool and a view on the way back down.



Yesterday we decided to see some different scenery and drove back through the tunnel to the east entrance to the park. At the ranger talk the other night, he said there were quite a few big horn sheep born this spring, and the best place to see them was on the east side of the park. We hiked about two to three miles along the East Rim trail, but didn’t see any sheep.


It was a gradual climb up to good views of Checkerboard Mesa and finally to Jolley Gulch. If you continue on, in about 7 more miles you would get to Observation Point.


Since it has been such a wet winter and spring, there was a nice waterfall.

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It was a good trail and an opportunity to see the other side of Zion, which is totally different from the canyon. By the end of our hike, Jim was having red rock withdrawal symptoms, and was happy to get back through the tunnel and see this again.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Zion Biking and Hiking



The sun came back out and Chuck and Carla left on Saturday, on their way to Denver. They twisted our arms and made us go eat pizza at Zion Pizza and Noodle again Friday night, only 2 days after our first dinner there. It was their suggestion, so we guess they really liked it, too. We were joined by another Lazy Daze couple, Ron and Jan, who they met at Lee’s Ferry, and who are also from Iowa, not far from the town they live in. They have been full-timing for almost 5 years now, three of those years in a 26’ Lazy Daze. We enjoyed meeting them.

Zion is a great place to ride bikes, since only the shuttle buses and people staying at the lodge may drive the 6 mile canyon road. We’ve ridden it twice so far, and it is so enjoyable having the road practically to ourselves. On Saturday we stopped a lot for Jim to take pictures.

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Today we just enjoyed the ride and scenery. Unfortunately we couldn’t get all the way to the end of the canyon today because of a search and rescue mission along the road. We suspected it was a climber, as we saw quite a few of them the other day in the same location. But I just found an article on line that said a man’s body was found in the Virgin River this morning while they were conducting a search mission for two young men who were rafting down the Narrows and didn’t return when they said they would on Saturday. Don’t know if they found them or their bodies yet. I guess things like that happen frequently as the local SAR had a table set up at one of the trail heads to check people’s packs to be sure they were prepared for their hikes.

Yesterday we went through the tunnel to the east side of the park to hike Clear Creek Canyon. After a tricky climb down, we only got about a quarter of a mile before we came to some deep water and had to turn back. We did see some interesting rocks, though.

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Since we were parked nearby, we decided to take the half mile Canyon Overlook trail. We had done it last year, and we knew the overlook would be a great spot to stop for lunch. You get a good view of the mountain that the tunnel is carved through, you can see a couple of the tunnel windows, and the switchback road going back into the park.

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And we named this Turtle Rock, which actually looked more like a turtle when we were standing in front of it. We are easily amused!


Friday, April 23, 2010


As some of you may have noticed, our blog has a new look. I can’t get Jim to write any posts, but he spent most of the day yesterday playing on the computer. It barely got to 50 and drizzled off and on, so we weren’t too excited about getting outside. One of the things he did was change our template and experiment with different colors, font sizes, etc. This is how it ended up. I like it because the pictures stand out more, and it’s nice to change things around from time to time.

Last year when we were in Zion, all of our photos had blue skies. This time we’ve had many more clouds, which makes this years photos a little different. The weather was only a bit better today, but we got out and walked the Pa’Rus trail, a paved 1.7 mile path along the Virgin River that starts at the South campground.  Even the dark skies and clouds can’t take away the beauty of this place.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Watchman Trail and Riverside Walk, Zion NP

Yesterday we just wanted to take a short hike so we walked to the Visitor Center to look around, then found the Watchman trail nearby. It is a 1.4 mile climb to a rock outcropping that looks over the campground. Guess we were tired from our longer hike the day before, but it was a good workout getting to the top.  More gorgeous views like everywhere in Zion.
Last night was girls night out. Carla, Debbie and I went to the amphitheater to listen to a ranger talk about raptors in Zion. It was interesting but she talked more about other things than raptors, so we didn’t really learn much. Pretty exciting evening!
It rained and hailed during the night, and continued this morning,  but the clouds were pretty over the mountains.P1000517
The rain stopped this afternoon, so we took the shuttle to the end of the canyon and walked the Riverside Walk, a paved one mile trail along the Virgin River.
Chuck wanted to see how much higher the water  looked after the rain. This is the end of the trail where the famous Zion Narrows trail begins. Needless to say it is closed at this time due to high water.P1000522
Tonight we went into the cute little town of Springdale, just outside the park, and ate a great pizza at Pizza and Noodle. We ate there a couple times last year when we were here, and it was as good as we remembered. It’s a safe bet we will eat there again before we leave.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Zion National Park, UT

We are staying in the Watchman campground, since this is the one that takes reservations. Chuck and Carla have been here a few days and they warned us that it was very crowded and there were lots of kids. Luckily we have good neighbors and it hasn’t been a problem so far. This week is free entry into all national parks, so that may be impacting the crowds.

We let Chuck pick the hike today, and he opted to drive their Jeep to the east side of the park and do a 3.2 mile hike on the East Mesa trail to Observation Point. You can also hike a 4 mile climb up from Zion Canyon, but this way was flat and you still got rewarded with the view.  Of course the trip involved a muddy Jeep road that we were concerned about getting stuck on, so we parked and walked a ways to the trailhead. It started out as a nice hike through a forest with Ponderosa pines. It smelled like Christmas and we saw several deer. And a good bit of snow still at 6,500 feet elevation.


We had great views of Mystery Canyon, but the trail was getting very muddy and snow covered in spots.  P1000452 P1000453

At a particularly muddy, downhill part of the trail, Debbie turned back, and we sent Chuck on ahead to scope it out.


We figured we had to be fairly close to Observation Point, and didn’t want to give up on another hike, so we continued in the mud and snow and finally intersected the trail from the canyon. We ran into some people who told us we were almost there, and we finally got to the point. It sure seemed a lot farther than 3.2 miles, but the views of Zion Canyon made it worth the effort.


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Carla suggested we might want to walk down the canyon trail and catch the shuttle back to the campground, so they back  tracked to the Jeep and we took the 4 mile descent back down. No snow and no mud going back this way, and the scenery was breathtaking. We eventually ended up in Echo Canyon and had to do a few stream crossings, then came the 2 miles of very steep switchbacks. We found out that a 2100’ descent in 4 miles makes for a pretty steep trail. Better than going uphill on it, though.

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Then we hopped on the shuttle to the lodge for an ice cream cone on the way home. We made it just 2 minutes before the cafe closed, or we would have been two unhappy hikers.

One more thing. This guy was in front of us going down the trail. Jim thinks he must have lost a bet!