Elizabeth and I took a spontaneous trip to Utah over Labor Day weekend, and enjoyed our first ever trip to Zion National Park. It was fabulous.
Over a large swath of central Utah, there had been a fire a couple years before, leaving large areas of dead trees and this burned-out souvenir shop
The owner of this quickie mart was obviously a hunter. Try a venison burrito?
We arrived to Zion just in time to catch the last rays of sun on the canyon walls.
Here's the hotel where we stayed, surrounded by spectacular sandstone formations.
The next morning was lovely and clear, despite warnings of approaching thunderstorms.
Next door, there was a little farm with ducks and goats that drew interest from many visitors.
We decided to head up to "Angel's Landing" our first day, which was an ambitious hike but we weren't sure if we'd have another chance given the forecast.
The peaks all look so different from different angles, that I'm not sure which one this is.
We didn't go up that way.
Zion was carved by the Virgin River, which doesn't look nearly as impressive as what it has left behind, especially in August when the water is low.
This is part of the trail we came up.
Here we see the river and the west end of the canyon. Our hotel is just out of view to the right.
A sandstone sentinel along the trail.
I'm amazed how the trees can find purchase on these cliffs. Sometimes, you see roots crawling halfway down the slope, looking for water or a place to grab hold.
You can't tell the scale from this image, but these holes where about the size of your fist, and I have no idea how they got there.
We loved all the striations in the sandstone.
This set of switchbacks represented a significant construction effort on the part of the US Parks Service back in the 30's (I think).
The view looking back down.
One of the residents. The racing stripes were well-earned, as this little guy could really move!
A curious squirrel.
A curious hiker.
I loved the signs.
A chain gave us something to hang onto while scrabbling along the ridge.
Parts of it were well-worn, along with the rock it brushed against.
Nearly at the top, a fellow hiker took our photo for us.
This was a prominent ridge just to the east of Angel's Landing.
Here's the ridge we had to cross to get to the final point.
An HDR image of the climb, which looks worse than it is.
My favorite hiker.
I arrived a bit damp from the climb and the heat. Eliz looks like she just stepped out of the hotel.
Cool, huh? Huh?
The team that beat us to the landing.
Naturally, I had to take a 360-degree panorama, but I didn't have a tripod so it's a little sloppy.
The Virgin River from on high.
Looks like an awesome place to go snow boarding in Winter, doesn't it?
Self-portrait. That's a bus on the road down below.
Cooling off in Refrigerator Canyon on the trail back.
We had a little argument about this hole in the rock, which was about an inch in diameter. Elizabeth thought it was natural, and I thought it was left by some man-made reinforcement that used to be there. We never settled it, and the debate rages on to this day.
In the evening, we visited a sort of petting farm in Sunnydale, where they had longhorn steer, caribou, and bison.
This calf on the right was having a high old time, running like mad to and fro while the adults carried on their "discussion."
A caribou Eliz took a fancy to.
Someone gave E some caribou snacks, which he lapped up appreciatively, leaving her with a very wet hand.
The next day, we decided to brave the uncertain weather and took the shuttle bus to road's end, which was the trailhead for the "River Walk," an easy paved stroll along the Virgin.
A bit posed, perhaps, but cute!
Near one of the places where water seeps through the sandstone, creating a year-round spring that the plants really seem to enjoy.
We called these trumpet lily's, though they're clearly something else.
We called these "the pretty red flowers."
Another sandstone seep.
Here we are at the end of the paved trail, where people continue in water shoes or bare feet (in my case).
Another squirrel who's not too afraid of people.
That's Elizabeth's sneaker on the right.
Someone heading out of the canyon gave Eliz his walking stick, which was a little bit too big and clumsy for her, so she left it behind a short while later and managed just fine without it.
It was slow going at first, but we gradually got used to walking over rocks in the rushing water.
Some of the kids really got into it, so to speak.
I use this image as one of my desktops.
Elizabeth taking a couple's photo in the canyon. We traded favors with them a few minutes later.
And here we are from the same perspective.
The Narrows offered many opportunities for HDR photography.
We were told to seek "higher ground" in the event of a flash flood. Thankfully, there were all these easy-to-climb rocks around.
Here I am kipping on one of them.
Eliz was very sure-footed.
This rock was grinning at us.
I said "Wow!" a lot.
One of the views that wowed me.
Well, what would you say?
The Narrows and why it's called that.
We were having a good time.
I almost fell in with my camera a couple of times, but it was worth the risk.
I'm guessing the gorge was at least 200 feet high most places.
Some of the rocks were polished smooth.
Others were dug out by stones that settled in spots.
We were treated to many views like this as we rounded one bend after another -- we had a terrible tendency to want to see what was around the next turn, despite the late hour and concerns about getting back.
This is on the way back, I think.
A bend in the river carved this out, and the bolders strewn all around probably came from just overhead, a point that Eliz kept making.
A fellow canyoneer took this cool photo of us.
On the way out, we passed a group of much better-equipped Japanese tourists.
Sunset on the canyon wall.
The next morning, a goat greeted me outside our back porch.
This praying mantis was also lying in wait just by the rear door.
The weather looked a bit iffy, so we opted for a local hike. We needed to get going before noon, anyway, and were glad we'd made good use of our two full days.
This is a famous bridge, that is rather difficult to get to. I took this telephoto shot from across the canyon, next to the Zion museum.
A crow landing in a tree, looking like it's landing on a mountain.
Someone said that Angel's Landing is the peak on the upper right, but I couldn't tell for sure.
Another photographer took this of us near the waterfall over the Lower Emerald Pools.
Lots of red steps.
The trail heading up to Angel's Landing, where we hiked the first day, must be along this ridge, somewhere.
It's sedimentary, my dear Watson.
I thought this was a rubber spider when I first saw it, because it was so huge and still. The body is easily the size of my palm, which I was too shy to put in the photo for scale...
The stream at one of the Upper Emerald Pools.
Eliz looking stylish.
Beauty on the rocks.
A final image of the Virgin River.
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