Crying Rocks and Angel Sightings
June 15, 2011 4 Comments
Our second day with Blue Monkey Expeditions found us in the heart of Zion National Park. Since it was peak season, only the Zion shuttles were allowed to drive to the most well-known attractions, so even though we saw a lot the day before, there was still so much more to see . . .
Once our bellies were full, we loaded up the van and headed back to Zion . . .
On our drive into the park, our youngest adventourer, Matthew, spotted some of the Park’s wildlife on a cliff next to the road–a whole group (herd? flock? gaggle? anyone know the proper term here?) of Big-Horned Sheep:
They were trying to cross the road, but of course since we all stopped to take pictures, their plans were sort of hijacked. But don’t worry, they eventually got across; only after posing for a million pictures though . . .
Okay, so once we made it past the wild sheep, we eventually arrived at the Zion Visitor Center to catch the shuttle and to take some keepsake photos. As always, the Mr. was more than accomodating with even my oddest of demands, as seen here with the model of ZNP:
And of course we all posed at the park’s sign, first, Mr. Bunches and I:
Then the girls . . .
And then the family that rounded out our Blue Monkey Adventour Group:
First up, we headed to the start of the Narrows at the end of Riverside Walk (unfortunately, Blue Monkey had to cancel our Narrows hike since the Narrows were closed due to possible flash flooding, but we still headed out along the easy walking path to at least see the start of the Narrows).
Since Blue Monkey Mike had been out to Zion only a month earlier, he was familiar with what lay ahead, but as he soon learned, Zion can change dramatically with the seasons. Just check out this dripping stream running over one of the canyon walls–when Mike was there a month earlier, this was a massive waterfall:
Isn’t that unbelievable?!
The views were absolutely breathtaking in every direction–whether you looked straight up . . .
. . . or straight ahead . . .
. . . or even paused for a close-up of the flowers growing out of the rock walls . . .
After an easy mile-long hike (1.1 to be exact), we reached the end of Riverside Walk and the opening to the Narrows. We took a moment to pose some more and also had a chance to feel the water (it was frigid btw).
And of course, our Blue Monkey guides were there to watch over it all . . .
Once we got our fill of the Riverside Walk, it was time to head back and take the shuttle.
Blue Monkey Mike then led us to Weeping Rock (or, as the Mr. liked to say, “where’s this crying rock I’ve been hearing about?”). Turns out it was really cool, and perfectly matched to its name . . . if you picture a rock weeping, then you’ve pictured Weeping Rock at Zion.
The bottom right picture above is yet another example of how time changes Zion–that too was a massive waterfall when Mike visited last. The hike to Weeping Rock was short, only 0.4 miles roundtrip, but it was most definitely worth it. From there, we headed to the Zion Lodge so everyone could regroup, grab a snack, and then decide on their next adventure. We had about 2.5 hours of time built into the schedule for our own exploration of the park, and the Mr. and I decided to maximize it. From Zion Lodge, we headed to the Emerald Pools Trails, with hopes of completing the lower, middle, and upper pool trails in the 2.5 hours. And here’s where I wish I had some pictures of the pools to share, but the Mr. was worried about time so he urged me forward, promising that he’d let me take some shots on the way back down . . . but, our adventure took a different course (note the red line below):
Instead of just covering the Emerald Pools Trails, we ended up somehow going right when we were supposed to go left (I blame the Mr. for that error, but go ahead and guess who he blames . . . ). So instead of heading to the Upper Pools, we found ourselves on the Kayenta Trail headed towards the Grotto, a 1 mile moderately rigorous trail. And of course, by the time we got to the Grotto, we found ourselves at the base of the West Rim Trail, a “strenuous” hike that led to Angels Landing, where at least 5 people have fallen to their death. It seemed like everything we heard, saw, or read about Angels Landing discouraged people from attempting it, which of course meant that the Mr. and I were all over it. By the time we completed the Kayenta Trail and the Pools trails, we had about 1.5 hours left until we had to meet the group again. So we figured we’d head out and see how far we could get; the allotted time for the 5.4 mile roundtrip hike to Angels Landing was 4 hours, and for good reason–the climb was steep and included an almost 1,500 foot elevation change (here’s the view from Scout Lookout on the way up) . . .
. . . not to mention some serious switchbacks humorously named Walters Wiggles (although we were far from laughing at this point) . . .
But we continued to haul butt and were making good time, so we decided to se if we could get to the top, pausing only momentarily for some shots along the way . . .
And lo and behold, we made it!
The last part of the climb was assisted by chains. And let me just say–I was freaked. Totally and completely freaked. The pictures don’t quite tell the story, but the cliff was steep, the chain was slimy (or maybe that was my sweaty hands), and the edge was just too close. If it weren’t for the Mr. encouraging me to continue, I definitely would have stopped at the sign.
But we did it!!
Oh, and the best part?! We completed the round trip in 1.5 hours!!! So much for an estimated 4 hour trip, huh? Yeah, basically we were on a mission . . . crazy, huh? It was gorgeous though. Ab-so-lute-ly gorgeous. And talk about a feeling of accomplishment?! We were psyched the whole rest of the day . . .
Yum. Gotta hand it again to Blue Monkey Mike–he planned such a great day for us, right down to the dinner recommendations and the outstanding moon views . . .
Up next? Bryce Canyon! (so stay tuned . . . )