Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hiking in Zion

During the last week of June, I was hiking in Zion NP. It was fun. It was also hot. I had planned to camp for 3 nights and then spend 1 night in a hotel. The heat caused me to wimp out and move to the hotel a day early. It was only 105F in the valley, and all of my hiking was on the east side at higher elevation where it was 85-90F. But when I returned to my tent, the thermometer inside my tent read 124F.

The South Campground was popular and full each day. When I arrived, there weren't a lot of choices in camp sites. The one I chose (84) had no shade during the hottest part of the day. Oh well. Live and learn.

The first day I drove up to the NW section of the park, and on past Kolob Reservoir. The scenery was beautiful making it a great drive. The road also ascends to above 9,500 ft elevation, so the temperature was nice.

I passed cattle pastures and birch tree stands. Also came across a flock of sheep.

They weren't as friendly as I imagined. When I got out of my car they quickly walked away from me, with several stopping to stare at me.

I enjoyed my hikes on the east side. I failed to get very far up a sandstone ridge that I was trying to ascend. It's just to the east of Deertrap Mountain. Here's a Google map centered on that ridge. I'll try that again next time.

I also failed to summit my current nemesis hill, but I've got renewed hope after learning that other people have summited it by a different route. I hope to summit next time.

One day I hiked parts of the east rim trail that's named Deertrap Mountain Trail and Cable Mountain Trail. I didn't want to start from highway 9, since that'd make the hike a lot longer than I wanted. Instead, I drove the dirt roads up northwest of Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Just for fun, I started by driving all of the roads that I'd seen in Google Maps. Then I parked at the spot centered on this Google map. The private road ends at an unlocked gate where the signs indicate the park boundary. Beyond the gate, there was a large parking area, but I wasn't sure if I was allowed to drive past the gate. I checked afterward with the backcountry desk and, YES, you are supposed to open the gate and drive in and park there.

That hike was about 4.5 miles each way and mostly flat. Unfortunately, there was no shade along the way. My thermometer read 86F and there was no wind. It was a perfect day. And the view from the east rim (at the end of Deertrap Mountain Trail) was amazing! I was looking down on the top of Angel's Landing. I snapped a zoomed photo of the top that shows hikers there.

Once again, I enjoyed the pizza at Zion Pizza & Noodle Co. It's not the best in the world, but after a day of hiking, it's very good! And if you go there, remember: they don't take credit cards.

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