I'm planning to see an old moto riding buddy in Vegas and do some desert / dirt riding outside of Vegas in the Puhrump area. My buddy is a LV cop and is working till Friday night, so with four days to myself I'm heading up I-15 to St. George and Zion NP. This will be …. maybe my 10th visit to Zion to the last 25 years. Zion is a spectacular park, full of fantastic sandstone formations forming deep canyons and huge walls. The colors are unbelievable! With fall coming on the deciduous trees are in color giving even greater contrast to the red sandstones.
Due to my career in education all of my previous visits have been during summer or spring vacations. This visit is a real treat, no kids, fewer visitors and many open campsites. I find a perfect location for the Sprinter and set up camp for the remainder of the week. Over a nice dinner of soup and grilled cheese in the Sprinter's kitchen I look over the park trails setting my agenda for the next few days. With recent rains the Virgin River, which cut Zion canyon over the past million(s) of years, the Narrows trail which is basically hiking the river between hundreds of feet of sandstone walls, is closed. I focus on one of the top trails in the park, Angel's Landing, a 1488' tall rock formation. This trail is known for it's great exposure. It's not a really tough trail, about 5.0 miles round trip and 1500' vert. It's not for those with fear of heights. There are segments of the trail that are 3-4' wide and roll off 1200-1500 feet to the valley floor. Since 2004 five people have died falling off the trail. overall eight people have perished on this trail.
Taking the Zion shuttle from the campground I start the hike moving quickly up the paved trail encountering the 21 steep switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles. The switchbacks top out at Scout Lookout where those not ready to "climb" the ridge to the top rest and turn back to the trailhead. After a quick snack of an orange and a Kind bar I check my boot laces and head on up the last half mile. The park service has strategically planted steel poles and chains to provide a bit more opportunity for security while negotiating the large steps and boulders that makeup the route. This trail is a reality check for one's self confidence in managing footing and handholds.
Once reaching the top you are rewarded with outstanding views up and down the valley and of course a view over the edge with 1500+' between you and the floor. Just a bit too few vertical feet to give lift to a wing suit! Taking a few deserved photos and with a thunderstorm brewing to the north of the park I head back down the trail. The trip down is uneventful, as it should be with slow and calculated moves.
Over the next couple of days I bag a couple more trails, Hidden Canyon and the backside of the West Temple and Mount Kinesava (no trails here - basic routefinding required).
Friday arrives and time to pack the rig and head back to Vegas for some comradery and trail riding.