Zion NP Nov 2019

2:17 p.m. on December 16, 2019 (EST)
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Hi All,

It's been a while since I posted a report but thought this one was worth sharing. Zion had long been on my list and with no time for planning this year it seemed a good choice. I had messaged Ed (Who me Worry) for info years ago, and that message, a Backpacker Magazine article, and the Parks website were my main resources. 

I decided to do the "Trans Zion Trek" from the article in the magazine. The route starts in Kolob Canyon at Lee Pass and ends at the East Rim trailhead. Trail closures near Weeping Rock due to rock slides made it not possible to follow the exact route but I made it across (all I can say about that here). 

I flew to Vegas, rented a car and drove to Springdale to obtain walk-up permits. I was nervous that there were none to be had but it was no issue at all. I got every camp I wanted. I paid a shuttle to take me from the East Rim to Lee Pass.


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So, someone in Utah has a sense of humor. Anyway, on to the back-country....


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The excited selfie at Lee Pass!


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Views like these were around every corner.


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There was so much to examine it was a little overwhelming.


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Here was my first nights camp in LaVerkin Creek area.


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Just past the drawn end of the LaVerkin Creek trail is a fascinating slot canyon named Bear Trap on the map. I could have spent another whole day just exploring this canyon. Dang it, I needed to move on. This was typical of this trip; wish I had more time.


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Formations like this were common and so very interesting. 


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A lot of this route was like hiking on the beach. (or moon dust?)


20191105_090516.jpgHop Valley was beautiful and I tried imagine the scenes from Jeremiah Johnson but it had been too long since I saw the movie to recognize any landmarks. 

20191105_094026.jpgAgain, there was just so much to explore and examine....I mostly had to keep walking.

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I did stop to have lunch and admire this scene ^

20191105_121644.jpgI think this was the connector trail as I headed over to Wildcat Canyon.

20191105_125230.jpgJust more cool geology.

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The West Rim trail is a fine, fine place to be. The next many pictures are from my wanderings up there.


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Now I'm headed down past Cabin Springs:
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And here I start the Angles Landing detour:
20191107_092630.jpgA view from the spine^

20191107_094348.jpgLooking down the death preventing chains^


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20191107_104534.jpgThis is my first ground level view of the main Zion Canyon^



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20191108_093813.jpgI did kill a few hours checking out the Narrows. It was mid-day and the shuttles had been off loading people in rented dry suits by the dozens for hours. A Ranger told me there was likely already several hundred people in the canyon. I believed her. That was not my bag so I bailed after a mile or so, and besides, I didn't rent any protective gear and it was super cold.

20191108_170146.jpgHere is dinner at Cable mountain on the old log rig.


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Here I'm dangling my feet over the ledge and marveling at how small those buses look from up there.


20191108_170721.jpgSun setting on Cable Mountain^
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The last camp on Cable. 



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And yes, you have to pack out your waste in this Park; but on this trek there were enough trash cans at road crossings and trail heads that I never had to carry more than one days waste at a time. The wag bags worked fine, but I brought extra bags as an additional layer; so it was triple bagged and kept in my outer pocket and carefully monitored when taking the pack on or off. lol

Sorry not much detail here, mostly pictures, hope it was still somewhat interesting. 

Happy Trails!

Patrick

2:45 p.m. on December 16, 2019 (EST)
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Enough to make me miss Utah :) Glad you got out there. Thanks for sharing!

4:23 p.m. on December 16, 2019 (EST)
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Interesting? Hell yes. Awesome photos of an incredible place. Thanks

Question. at the chains there are steps, were they carved in by white men or are they an ancient thing done by Native Americans?

See any snakes?

4:49 p.m. on December 16, 2019 (EST)
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Thanks LS

Old Guide, I don't know for sure but I think that path up to Angles Landing is completely manufactured and heavily monitored. 

5:37 p.m. on December 16, 2019 (EST)
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Thanks

11:37 p.m. on December 16, 2019 (EST)
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Great photos Patman.  We used to say "Utah has it all."  

I love the desert in the off season.   Next up is Death Valley. 

12:03 a.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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Nice shots and hike description. I worked in Zion at the Lodge June and July last summer. 

4:54 a.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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So Patrick: how'd you like those spots on the Angel's Landing spur where there are no chains, and the trail is only 18" wide, steep, inclined toward the cliff edge (which IS the edge of the trail) leading to a 1500' sheer drop?  

If one continues a short distance further up the West Rim Trail, past the Angel's Landing spur, there are some vistas looking down into the Temple of Sinawava, gained by a short, easy, XC stroll, that are among the most beautiful I have ever seen.  I hope you checked that out!

Did you make any side trips while at Stave Springs, other than to Cable Mountain?  Pretty amazing vistas up there in that area.  In 1981 I tried to get a pic, standing on the top beam of the Cable Mountain winch gantry.  Nothing but air between my feet and the canyon floor far below.  Would have made for a spectacular picture, but I was so jacked with adrenaline from the exposure, I couldn't hold the camera steady, and ended up with only a blur.

Old Guide said:

Interesting? Hell yes. Awesome photos of an incredible place. Thanks

Question. at the chains there are steps, were they carved in by white men or are they an ancient thing done by Native Americans?

See any snakes?

The Paiute may have gained access to the West Rim by other means than the current West Rim Trail, as such a route would provide access into neighboring canyons.  Today's trail, however, probably chases a different route to the rim, as the final mile of the current trail to the top the West Rim was made possible only by blasting the path into sheer cliffs.  In any case the Angel's Landing spur trail was forged by white man.

I was told the only trail the Paiute made in Zion solely with a summit view in mind was to the top of The Sentinel.  Apparently the Paiute did not have our affinity of travel for the sake of a view.  Like many tribal societies, they were pragmatic, and probably thought touring as a pastime was a waste of effort.  In the case of The Sentinel, the summit was a place they conducted some sort of ceremony.  In fact the Paiutes considered Zion Canyon to be inhabited by powerful spirits and avoided getting caught there, after dark.  Thus most Paiute trails into the canyon were for hunting purposes, such as part of the East Rim Trail Patrick took, which has a spur on top of the buttes leading to Deer Trap Mountain.  As its name implies, Deer Trap Mountain was a location where the Paiute hunted deer by herding them over a steep face where they fell to their death.

The Sentinel trail is no longer accessible.  The park service laid chains along portions of the trail, but in the 1930s removed them due to maintenance cost.  I have tried to retrace this trail a couple of times, but apparently strayed off route, or rock fall may have rendered the route impassible.  I am told The Sentinel Trail was significantly more hair ball than the Angel's Landing spur trail.  Given the Angel's Landing spur claims a few tourists now and then, I doubt today's lawyers would have allowed The Sentinel Trail to remain open. 

Ed

8:56 a.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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Thanks Ed for the additional information.

9:00 a.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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Ed, I did indeed explore that area, I have way more photos than what I've posted.

I overheard that a hiker fell to their death from Angel's Landing just this past spring.

9:06 a.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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Another good one Patman! Zion was my first NP at age 16 and I've been in love with it ever since. In various visits I've done pieces of your route, really nice to see it done all in one go. Keep on truckin'!

1:10 p.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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Ed, I actually ran out of time once on the East side and had to choose where to go for my "at large camping permit". I chose Cable mountain and did not make it out to the East Rim Overlook which I wanted to see. 

Hey Thanks Red! This route would really be best done in a couple weeks instead of the five days I used. There are just so many interesting sidelines to explore.....

11:28 p.m. on December 17, 2019 (EST)
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If you ever go back and the Observation Point trail has re-opened, check that out. Its higher than Angels Landing. The trail last spring had a rock slide and last summer when I worked there the rangers said it was closed indefinitely.

10:07 a.m. on December 18, 2019 (EST)
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This is the view from Observation Point looking down Zion Canyon. Angels Landing is the shaded cliff point in the foreground, 1200 feet below.


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Oberservation Point top, Angels Landing lower left and Cable Mountian lower right.


1:53 p.m. on December 19, 2019 (EST)
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Thanks Gary

I stopped to check it out and the lodge looked interesting but I can't quite figure why it's north of $200 per night? It didn't seem to have the amenities of even average hotels; I guess folks pay big bucks to stay in the park boundaries?

1:58 p.m. on December 19, 2019 (EST)
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Another observation: I spent my first night in a hotel in Springdale; it's a beautiful little town but though it seems to be configured for pedestrians with those wide and well maintained side walks, it was death defying to actually walk along those sidewalks. Maybe it's typical of the late season and tourists but I felt like no one paid any attention to the walkers at all and I had to dodge fast cars several times. It was legitimately scary to walk around there. Angles Landing had nothing on those crazy drivers in terms of scaring the crap out of me. :)

2:21 p.m. on December 19, 2019 (EST)
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Fantastic terrain. Most of southern Utah is world class. That selfie might make a good avatar.  Love those surreal landscapes.

3:39 p.m. on December 19, 2019 (EST)
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Thank you for all the pics. I've been to SE Utah but haven't made it to Zion yet. I'll have to put it on the wishlist for next winter. 

10:08 a.m. on December 20, 2019 (EST)
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Was "Angels" Landing busy? When I was there this summer, they had rangers up there to regulate flow. They had to limit the amount, even then it was a line all the way from Scouts Lookout to the top. 

8:37 a.m. on December 26, 2019 (EST)
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Glad to see you're still getting out and about Patrick. Great photos that bring back memories from a week I spent there in the early 90s...my old photos are nowhere near the quality of these!

9:48 p.m. on December 26, 2019 (EST)
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Nice....

11:55 a.m. on December 27, 2019 (EST)
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Nice trip report and outstanding photos. Glad to see you posting again

April 2, 2020
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