Saturday, May 31, 2014

Zion - East Temple Saddle

I visited Zion National Park last week.  It was fun.  My most interesting hike was the East Temple Saddle and loop.  I learned of this hike from Joe Braun's website, and from a new book: Favorite Hikes In & Around Zion National Park.   

I really liked this hike.  It's very steep and has plenty of route finding; right on the edge of my abilities.  This hike starts at the end of the easy Overlook Trail on the east side of the big tunnel.  At the place where everybody looks west enjoying the view down canyon, you turn around and start hiking up toward the saddle.  From the saddle, the hike continues down the other side and into Pine Creek Canyon, then back to Highway 9.  My GPS watch took a while to see enough satellites and get an accurate fix, so ignore the track that's south of Highway 9.  I posted the KMZ file to my google sites page and you can download it here to view in Google Earth.

Here's the end of the Overlook Trail, and the view looking up toward the saddle.

The saddle is in view so you can't lose sight of that objective.  Don't go too far to the left.  It gets very cliffy over there.  

The hike up the slickrock to the saddle is very steep in places.  Do not try this hike if you're not comfortable on steep slopes.  I brought my grippy shoes, but it wasn't steep enough to require them.  My Salomon trail shoes did fine.  If you're interested, I can point you to a couple steeper slopes on the east side of the park.

I passed several cairns.  Somebody also tied pink ribbons to the bushes along the route.  I'm not a fan of that method.

There's a fair amount of route finding.  Mostly, to find the least steep path up the next patch of slickrock.  I had to double back a few times when I made a poor choice.

It gets less steep as you approach the saddle.

It took me 1.5 hours just to reach the saddle.  I was very happy, because the remainder of the hike would be easier.

From the saddle, the next photo looks east toward Pine Creek Canyon.

After scouting the area, the path down looked pretty easy.  That made me happy.

The next photo looks back up the canyon I just hiked down, toward the saddle.

Here's Shelf Canyon from above.  I briefly wondered how to get around it, but then saw a small cairn confirming that I was on the right path. It's pretty easy.

While resting, I took a few photos of Progeny Peak.  There was nobody on the summit.

I've hiked Progeny Peak many times.  Seeing those slabs on the west side of the summit brings back memories.  Free advice: don't step on those.  They move!

And this is the final drop down into Pine Creek Canyon.  I startled a large group of bighorn sheep.  They ran away before I could get a shot with my camera.

The hike took a total of 3 hours: 1.5 hours to reach the saddle, and another 1.5 hours to return to the car.  The total distance was 4 miles.  I enjoyed this hike and I'll probably hike it again.

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