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.
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.
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.
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!