I was having a great time hiking with a small group in Arizona and Utah. We had already spent several days hiking in the Grand Canyon, and now we were in hiking in Bryce National Park. The next day’s hike was a great adventure and a favorite for me. We drove several miles to a stream with no bridge, then headed almost immediately through narrow, high canyons, with a running stream through the canyon floor.
We walked through the canyon, going from side to side, and often through the stream, as the walls were so narrow. It was a hot day and the stream wasn’t deep, so it was refreshing and cool wading in the water. We came out of the canyon at our turn around point and took time to go off the trail and look at petroglyphs, Indian carvings on the rocks. We had lunch at a little flat place between the confluence of two streams: one we followed all day was reddish, while the other had very clear water. Along the hike I saw two ravens, a small yellow bird not much bigger than a hummingbird, tracks of a ring-tailed cat, lots of squirrels, and chipmunks.
The next day we were up at 4:15 for a sunrise hike. We hiked in the dark most of the way, through the dry western landscape, and then up the side of the huge monolith. We found places to sit at the top just in time to see the magnificent sun rise over one of the most awesome settings in the world. As the sun hit each layer of rock, the rock changed color all the way down the sides, layer by layer. What a way to start a day. It was so beautiful!
After a little while, we walked down the steep rock face and out onto the dry, flat landscape. We got into the van and for breakfast, we headed to a restaurant known for its pies. We sampled pies for breakfast!
We drove to our last of the three National Parks, Zion, in Utah for our final days of hiking. In Zion, we left our van and took a park tram visitors from place to place. There is a mile-long, narrow tunnel which hampers transportation. We took several short hikes: one was the Tropical Trail to Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, which was 3.6 miles. This trail followed the Virgin River, and the red rock of the canyons was magnificent. We spent the night in a motel in Springdale, Utah.
The next day was to be our final hike and the most talked-about feat to conquer on the trip: Angel’s Landing. Half the group was not going to do it. I was excited but I had no idea what the climb would entail.
After an early breakfast, we entered Zion National Park and began the day’s hike strolling beneath shady cottonwood and sycamore trees along the Virgin River. We soon began ascending to conquer the challenging hike up Angel’s Landing (see photo at left). This hike is a five-mile roundtrip trail over a knife’s edge, with the most breathtaking views I could imagine. We went up the wall of the canyon, then through the refrigerator, which is always cool and even cold because of the shade from the walls of the narrow canyon. Then up the stairs, steep but well maintained, to the halfway point, where part of our group stopped to wait for our return to descend. I left my pack and trekking poles with them, as from here on it is chains to hang on to for the rest of the way up, across the knife’s edge, and up the final wall to the summit-plateau. You can see my summit photo at the top of this blog post.
It was a grand hike, and although only several of us made it to the top, the experience and the view was well worth the challenge. It didn’t take long to descend to the halfway point, pick up my pack, and hike down the well-maintained trail to the bottom. After our final hike we had a long drive to Las Vegas. Here each member of our hiking party departed for home: Toronto, Vancouver, Michigan, Chicago and California… except for me. I had arranged to rent a car in Las Vegas and drive from there to Utah, Colorado, and Kansas, then fly home. I had my final goal of this trip to accomplish: of all the 50 states, the only ones I had never visited were Colorado and Kansas. I was ready for the second goal of this trip.
(posted December 29, 2015)