20140408-170712.jpgZION CANYON
(To appreciate the depth of Zion Canyon locate the white bus and trailer at bottom of the photo.)

I’ve been to a lot of national parks and in my opinion Zion is the most beautiful. Of course, I’ve always been partial to sandstone and this park is pure sandstone.

Most of the park is nearly inaccessible because it is a high plateau separated from the park’s narrow canyon by vertical cliffs. No matter, the 20-mile long canyon, nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon but only half a mile wide (as opposed to twenty miles for the Grand Canyon) is like a Manhattan avenue lined by skyscrapers – only these skyscrapers are sheer cliffs etched with the graceful curves left behind when enormous slabs of rock succumbed to the tug of gravity and fell to the canyon floor.

We’ve spent our first two days in the park hiking. We climbed 2500 ft today to the top of the plateau and it took us most of the day – roughly twelve miles.

Because one narrow road is the major access to the park’s interior, cars are forbidden on most of it and shuttle busses transport visitors. When I first read of this system I was skeptical. It sounded inconvenient. After using it for two days, however, I’m a convert. It actually allows hikers to walk a trail and not have to return on the same route since a shuttle picks them up at the trail’s end. Also, the traffic would be unbearable if all the visitors were driving to and fro.

Another benefit of the shuttles is that with only busses on the road, it is quite safe to bicycle – something we plan to do tomorrow.

20140408-162513.jpgMARY ON THE WEST RIM TRAIL
The first part of today’s hike up to Angel Landing was crowded but after the trail forked to the West Rim, we saw very few hikers. Mary insisted we continue up the steep trail until about one o’clock when she decided she’d had enough. I pointed out that only about 200 ft remained, by which I meant 200 vertical feet. We continued, but after nearly a quarter mile we still hadn’t topped the plateau which didn’t surprise me but obviously consternated Mary. She stopped and exclaimed

“You know, Lief, you’re full of shit. YOU’RE FULL OF SHIT!

It seems Mary had understood me to mean 200 ft along the trail – a much shorter distance. At any rate, we soon topped the plateau and all was soon well between the Little Hothead and me. Whew!

While we’re proud of our 12-mile hike we were clearly out-performed by these guys which I stopped to photograph on our way back to camp. The first photo shows the entire cliff with several climbers while the second is a zoom of one of those climbers: