Zion National Park
After spending the night at a roadside rest area, Zosia Zgolak and I
got up well before sunrise on the morning of 16 October 2016 to drive
into Utah's Zion National Park and hike up Angels Landing, arguably the
most popular hike in the park. I had already climbed Angels Landing in
2007, but I was game for a repeat ascent (a rarity!) with Zosia. We hoped
to beat the weekend crowds by catching the very first shuttle bus that
runs up Zion Canyon at 7:00 AM, but when we arrived at the parking lot
beside the visitor centre, the whole area was already buzzing with
activity even though it was still pitch black outside! The first shuttle
bus was packed, but we managed to squeeze into the last couple of seats
just before the bus left the visitor centre. After disembarking with the
majority of the passengers at Zion Lodge, we took our sweet time using
the nearby washroom facilities in order to allow the hordes of other
hikers to race up the trail. When Zosia and I finally started hiking, we
enjoyed much more solitude on the trail at least as far as Scouts
Landing. We began running into more people on the connecting ridge
between Scouts Landing and Angels Landing, but we never had to wait very
long to head up the numerous bottleneck sections. Not surprisingly, the
summit was very crowded, but Zosia and I still managed to find a quiet
spot to have a snack and enjoy the warmth of the morning sun. When we
finally started heading down, we ran into heavy congestion on the
connecting ridge as there was now a fairly steady stream of people
climbing and descending. Fortunately, everyone was patient and courteous,
and those of us descending were usually given the right-of-way.
When we got back to the valley bottom, Zosia and I elected to extend our
hike and visit the nearby Emerald Pools. This turned out to be a trying
experience as we had to contend with huge crowds all along the trails.
The pools by themselves would hardly be worthy of the effort to see them,
but on this day, the throngs of people congregating around them made it
even less appealing to linger.
After our largely forgettable visit to the Emerald Pools, we caught an
outgoing bus at Zion Lodge and returned to the visitor centre. Not quite
done with Zion National Park, we hiked the Watchman Trail which climbs up
to a ridge overlooking the entire area surrounding the town of
Springdale. The hot afternoon sun made the hike feel longer than it
really was, but at least we did not have to deal with heavy crowds on the
||Zosia heads to Emerald Pools on a
trail above the Virgin River.
||Zosia is less than impressed with
Upper Emerald Pool.
A lizard basks in sunshine on a rock along the Watchman
Upon returning to the visitor centre, we grabbed some food from my car
and found a somewhat secluded spot along the Virgin River to soak our
tired feet. When we were sufficiently refreshed, we returned to my car
and drove out of the park. After spending a full week in Utah, Zosia and
I were ready for a slight change in scenery, and we subsequently drove to
Las Vegas, Nevada and checked into Circus Circus casino resort for the
next two nights.
||The West Temple is readily visible
across the valley as Zosia hikes up the Watchman Trail.
||Sonny admires Bridge Mountain from the
end of the Watchman Trail.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
||Sonny stands in the Virgin River to
cool his feet.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
||This is the view (north) out of the
window of Zosia's and Sonny's hotel room at Circus Circus in Las
of Zosia Zgolak