Saturday, November 30, 2013

Zion National Park

As we crossed into the top corner of Arizona the landscape started to change. Red rock, canyons, and rock formations lined the highway with dense clouds atop them. The car was filled with “ooos” and “ahhhs” and the scrambling of cell phones to get pictures. When we got into Utah minutes later that only increased. While canyons can seem somewhat like mountains, they definitely have a different feel. You can see all the history in them and earth in each different colored layer and you feel taken back into those times, like a dinosaur can pop out of a corner around the bend any moment.

Before we reached the park we stopped at a Walmart to re-up on food and supplies. Buying firewood outside the parks is always a better option, indeed buying anything outside the park is a better option because it is substantially cheaper. We got into the park in the late afternoon, got our camp site, and started setting up. We got there before dark luckily this time so it went smoothly besides the stakes which are always a pain in the rear. This was the place we and by we I mean Finnley, finished off the stakes that the tent came with and had to buy new ones. 

We got the tent up right before sunset and I took some pretty pictures of the view around us. This campground wasn’t very rugged. We were close to everyone and there were a lot of people there. Regardless the views were undeniable. We took it easy that night just prepared dinner and hung out by the fire. I enjoyed camping there. It was cold, but it never got unbearably cold especially next to the fire. Once again we went to bed freakishly early that night. 

The next morning we were ready for a hike. After we woke up and did the usual routine: I lay in bed with the heater on while Finnley being the big strong man he is, gets up and makes me hot cocoa and himself coffee and brings it to me. Then he makes us breakfast and I finally muster up all the warmth I have and get up and we eat together. After that we got ourselves ready and went driving around the park. 

I originally wanted to do the Emerald Pools hike and the Weeping Rock hike, but we turned down the wrong street and ended up on the road with the tunnel. It was long tunnel going through the canyon which I’m never a fan of, but got used to. We drove all the way almost to the East entrance/exit of the park before stopping at a random trail. At that point we were looking for this Canyon view point trail, but hadn’t seen any sign of it. So we walked out onto this trail to see the name and it turned out to be another trail. As we were trying to figure this all out another car pulled up to the trail parking area. 

Finnley thought he should ask the girl in the car to see if she knew where it was. It turned out she did and it also turned out that we made a very cool friend out of that one question. Her name was Katie and she was from Washington and was doing the same thing we were except with her doggie Scrappy and she was mostly traveling the West. We ended up standing there and talking to her for a while and telling some funny stories. It turned out she was staying in the same campground. We all got along so great we invited her back to our camp site that night for a fire. 

Katie directed us back the other way to the Canyon Overlook trail and she went on to do the trail we were parked at originally. Finnley and I got to Canyon Overlook minutes later and prepared ourselves for the easy hike. It was a little steep and narrow at times, but nothing we weren’t familiar with. I was wearing a lot of gear because I was cold, but quickly got hot from hiking in the sun and had to take some of it off. I always say what a bitch it is trying to figure out what to wear in these conditions. I swear I never get it right, I always dress too cold or too hot. I think it is one of those eternal hiking problems. Regardless it was still a nice hike and when we got to the end, there was a vast and beautiful view of all the canyons. We crawled on some rocks and relaxed up there for a while before we headed back to the car.

After we went back to camp and had some lunch. Then we and by we I mean me, decided to go into the little town right outside of the park, Springdale, to check it out. Finnley was focused on getting new stakes so we went hunting for that first. When the first couple of stores didn’t have them or they were just too expensive, we headed to this clothing store called the Lazy Lizard which caught my eye the day before on the drive in. Another hippie store that carried everything that I want and is such a tease because it is all so expensive. I left without a thing, but the lingering desire for everything in the store. Another store that caught my eye the day before had a bunch of big stones outside that were so sparkly I had to check them out. 

Finnley and I looked around and I saw that the big blue stones I was most attracted to were just glass... lol. After looking around the selection outside we decided to check out the inside of the store. There were a bunch more refined looking stones and jewelry in there. I was particularly attracted to these silver opal rings, but they were more expensive than I wanted to pay and yet I bought one anyway. I couldn’t help it, it was so beautiful and I’m pretty sure opal was my Mum Mum’s favorite stone. I was too afraid to wear her rings on the trip because if I lost them I would just die so this way I could still wear a ring that reminded me of her. I also bought this cool rock that has tree designs on it that are supposedly natural due to the minerals where the rocks lie. 

Our last stop was a canyoneering gear store. Once again we were looking for stakes and this time we lucked out and found some for a great price. We bought 13 because that was all they had and figured that would do. We also ended up talking to one of the workers there who was telling us about canyoneering. She said it’s really fun and she does it herself. Finnley was very interested, but it is an expensive hobby. So doing that was a no go, I rather rock climb anyway. 

One thing I noticed from talking and interacting with the people around Zion and at the campground (excluding Katie obviously) was they were kind of like the people in Portland except outdoorsy. So while I loved the scenery there I was kind of turned off by the snooty people. It almost seemed like a battle for who’s the best outdoors person of all time. Who has the best gear? Who’s doing the coolest hikes? I would get exhausted trying to keep up if I lived there.

When we got back to camp we got a fire going and relaxed. Katie came by with Scrappy a little after dark. We all sat around the fire and talked and Finnley made us all dinner. It was really fun having another person to hang out with because we were so used to only having each other. It was nice to mix it up. It helped too that she was such a cool girl. We both seemed to have a lot in common with her and just enjoyed the conversations. At one point during the night we hear a guy yelling “It’s happening!” over and over at the campsite behind us. We all started cracking up and yelling back at them. There were 2 guys and 1 girl in the commotion. The girl started running towards us and the guys chased her. One of the guys which we assumed was her boyfriend because we heard something like that through all the chaos, tackled her to the ground.

Both guys were standing over her and she was down for a while. We were kind of worried, but then we heard her mumble something and they tried to pick her up. Unfortunately failing to do so they dropped her and all fell down with her. This went on repeatedly for the next hour or so. We were like “What the hell are they on?” at first we thought they were just drunk, but I came to the conclusion they must have been tripping on something. So that was our entertainment for the night. 

After staying up a lot later than the usual we said goodnight to Katie and planned on doing a hike with her the next day. That night she told us she wanted to surprise her sister for Thanksgiving by showing up at her house that day out of the blue. That must of put a bug in Finnley’s head because that night as we lay in the tent he asked me about it. Now I think he was having just a nostalgic alcohol induced moment. I don’t think he really wanted to go home for Thanksgiving, but that turned into a mistake for him because it put the bug in my head. I wanted to be home for Thanksgiving. 

During the middle of the night I woke up as I usually do. I heard strange noises all around the tent that sounded like walking and chewing. I didn’t know what it was until Finnley must of heard that I was awake and asked me if I could hear the deer chewing. It was those crazy awkward deer grazing around the tent. I don’t even know what they were eating because the tent was on a bunch of gravel. Finnley said they were eating the dead leaves, but I don’t know about that. 

The next night they came back and were doing the same thing, but this time one of these awkward guys tripped over the guy lines and made a giant boingioingioing sound and woke us up. We were scared that one was going to trip and freak out and kick the tent or fall and his antlers go through the tent. The whole place was crawling with deer. Even just sitting outside on our chairs or driving by you could see them and they clearly were not afraid of people. At some points we were literally 3 feet from them.

The next morning we were feeling mighty lazy so we went into town for breakfast. When we got back we hung out for a little at camp before getting a late start. I know I was feeling lazy as I often do. We were also having trouble picking what trail we wanted to do. When we finally decided on the Weeping Rock trail because it was super short, we left. It was hot outside at camp so I actually got to wear shorts, but that was a mistake. 

On our way out we saw Katie doing her dishes so we called her over and we scheduled when we were going to do the hike with her. We went off to do the quick hike and planned to be back at camp in an hour and half to meet up with her. When we got to Weeping Rock we started climbing and mind you this trail is only supposed to be like a half mile round trip, so were walking and it’s pretty steep. I was feeling like we walked more than a mile so Finnley asked someone and they said we passed Weeping Rock and we were on a different trail. So we had to turn around and go down and I’m bitching because I’m lazy and my legs feel like ice cubes. 

We finally reached the Weeping Rock trail and did the short hike to a rock that does indeed “weep”. It was nice, but it was cold out and the rock weeped on me. After, we went back to camp and met Katie to do a slot canyon hike. She had a book that had a bunch of cool less travelled trails in it and this was one of them. I was a bit scared because it was a slot canyon and I didn’t know how hard or rural it really was, but I agreed to do it in the name of adventure. 

Arriving at the trailhead, It definitely didn’t look like some of the main trials the park suggests for everyone, but it didn’t look that bad either. We climbed down into the canyon, hopping from rock to rock. It was actually really fun. We got to boulder a little and everything. I was really enjoying myself though ever cautious. When we reached the slot canyon we were all so excited. It was amazing and beautiful and such a different kind of environment than I ever experienced. The closest thing I could think of is a cave, but less claustrophobic. 

We even ran into a park ranger on the way in which I found very comforting. This was definitely the funnest hike I did during this trip. We stopped and walked around checking out the formations. We decided it would be awesome to take some pictures wedged in the canyon all different ways. We set up the camera and got the best pictures of all history! It was so much fun. We were all laughing and joking around. We all had a blast!

When we reached the end we hiked back which was just as fun. Katie had to make her way to her next destination, but decided to go back to camp and have lunch with us first.  We ate some hot dogs and hung out for a while until she had to go. We exchanged information and told each other to keep in touch and then she was off to her next adventure. After she left we went into town once again because I couldn’t stop OCD dreaming about this tie dye long sleeve shirt from the Lazy Lizard store. I forced Finnley to go and I got my shirt.

That night Finnley and I did the usual: hung out by the fire, talked, and ate food before going to bed freakishly early. The next morning we woke up and packed all of our things which is usually about a 2 hour feat and we too were off to our next adventure. We were finally going to make it to the Grand Canyon, but first a quick stop in Page, Arizona. 

On to the next...

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