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USA – Road Trip – Zion – 21st / 22nd October

As we wanted to try and camp within the Zion National Park camp site we were up early and out driving around the South Campsite looking for a free pitch. The Watchman Campground was reservation only and we couldn’t book a place, therefore we ricked the first come first served policy of the south site. Each person we asked who looked to be moving on said that their site was already taken by new people! After asking around 5 groups of people, we finally asked a guy who kindly offered us to share the site with him and his friend as long as we split the fee with them, “it’s a deal”!

Nick and Christina, who were pretty serious rock climbers, were to be our camp buddies for the next two nights with the site being large enough for both cars and the tents. Here at the Zion National Park there is a free shuttle bus service that takes you around the park (much like Yosemite NP) and drops you at various locations before doing the return trip. As customary we headed to the Visitors Centre for some information about hiking in the area as we were interesting in the popular Angels Landing hike – A five mile round trip in the canyon increasing +1488 feet elevation via a strenuous steep cliff-side. As this is the most popular route it would be very busy and also we wanted to do something a little different from the masses. Observation Point was recommended to us by the knowledgeable ranger and we decided this was our hike for the day. Eight miles round trip, +2148 feet elevation change via a strenuous steep cliff-side – perfect!

Helen’s cold had taken hold but she pushed through and we decided to just go for it. In a nutshell the hike was amazing. Quite possibly the hiking highlight of the America trip so far for the sheer natural beauty of the rock faces, views, weather, the autumnal leaves, the list could go on. You will need hiking boots, layers of clothes as in the shade it was chilly, food and plenty of water if you are going to climb up to the top. Also if you are afraid of heights and drops then be prepared to face these fears, but it is well worth it.

Back to our tent we hired up the single stove and Helen prepared another scrumptious meal of veggie chilly and rice. Dave went in search of fire wood (nearest place is at the shop near the Cafe Soleil and the Zion Canyon Theatre $6 per bundle) and we sat our a nice fire for the evening chatting with Nick and Christina.

We decided that the 22nd was to be another day of hiking as the area is so beautiful it would be a shame not to see more. Taking another tip from our ranger friend at the visitor centre we headed out to Kolob Canyons, part of Zion NP. This is a 45/60 minute drive from the South Campsite west along SR 9 and then north on I 15. The 7 day pass for Zion is good to use here too, just pop into the visitor centre at Kolob and show it to them.

We decided to take on the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek as it was only 5.4 miles round trip and hardly any elevation gain. There are some river crossings that need to be traversed but there are plenty of stepping stone rocks to aid your crossing in the shallow water. The hike was just as awe inspiring as the previous day but for other reasons. The trees here were much more autumnal against the orange rock and again out of the sunlight in the shade near to the river water it was pretty cold.

The hike brings you to a double arch water streaked alcove which is very impressive and we continued on up river a little further to see what we could find, more amazing scenery and the odd waterfall. On the way back we spotted a rather HUGE tarantula and we had to get a photo whilst he / she scuttled off with some speed into the woodland. The whole trip took us around 4 hours with lots of photo taking and a lunch break.

After some inspiration from Nick and Christina the previous night we decided to do a curry for dinner. It was pretty amazing after the hike and we head an early night ready to set off tomorrow for the next canyon, the Grand Canyon.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f/2.0, Leica 90mm f/2.8, Zeiss 18mm f/4 ZM processed in Lightroom 3)

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One Comment

  1. Posted 16 Nov ’11 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Lovely shots! Something of a different view of that park than one usually sees.

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