Vacation Continued

April 25, 2007

mossycaveOn Thursday, we woke up and got in the car and did our last hike at Bryce Canyon. It was a short, one mile round trip hike to Mossy Cave and a small waterfall. Mossy Cave was interesting. The cave was quite cool and there were huge icicles. There are icicles in the cave for 10 out of 12 months. The weird thing about the icicles is that they appeared to be attached to the ground instead of the ceiling of the cave. After pondering this natural phenomenon, we walked over the the waterfall which was more of a trickle due to less than average snowfall during the winter. It was a quick excursion, but a pleasant way to start the day. We climbed into the car for our 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park, the fifth most visited national park. We didn’t know this until we got there. It was a park I added on since it was “in the neighborhood.” Zion was a different experience; mountain hiking versus canyon hiking.

zionWe arrived at Zion in the early afternoon and headed straight for the visitor’s center. Let’s just say that the visitor center is nowhere near the east entrance of the park. You enter the park, go through a short tunnel, and then go through another mile long tunnel. This is the darkest tunnel I have ever been in. Built in 1930, there are no lights in the tunnel. There are a couple of “windows”, but it is dark. Also, traffic occasionally gets held up because the tunnel is narrow. Traffic has to be stopped to let oversized vehicles (RVs) through. Then you drive down the mountain, switchback city. It is very nervewrecking. Poor Bill had to do this drive five times, including once at night. But as passengers, Claudia and I enjoyed the view. Our plan for the afternoon was to hike the Emerald Pools Trail. It was a nice, moderate hike. We ended up going twice the distance we planned due to our excitement and going out of the order we mapped. But it was a nice day and we didn’t mind the extra activity. We ate dinner in Springdale, the town right outside of the south entrance (very cute town). The park and town have a great shuttle system from town to the park, and you have to shuttle most places in the park.

wigglesFriday was the day of our big hike. We were on the trail by 10am and the plan was to hike up to Angels Landing. Well, from the start I did not have it. I hadn’t had as hearty a breakfast as I had before other hikes and I was feeling every ounce of water I carried in my pack. I off-loaded a bottle of water to Bill, took a goo pack, and ate some trail mix. After a short break, I gave it another go. Those three things worked a miracle and the hike turned enjoyable. It was beautiful. Refridgerator Canyon was gorgeous. And then we hit Walter’s Wiggles, a series of about 10 switchbacks. They weren’t as bad as they looked, or maybe it was the we stopped frequently for pictures. At the top of the wiggles was Scouts Lookout and we took a snack break. The plan was to continue on another half mile to Angels Landing.

angelslandingI should have taken the hint when the sign up for Angels Landing said “Strenuous hike. Do not attempt if you have a fear of heights or if it is wet or dark.” I have a fear of heights but it had really not been a problem. Well, they were right about the fear of heights on this trail. This part of the trail was insane. I felt like I was walking on the side of the mountain, which I actually was. There were chains so you could have a hand hold, but it was precarious. There was a point at the end of one section where it took all my upper body strength to get across and that scared me. I made it to a “landing” and thought I was at the top, but then I looked ahead and saw the rest of the trail. I told Bill and Claudia I wasn’t going another step further and to have fun. The rest of the hike took them about an hour roundtrip. I was ready to get off the mountain by the time they got back. After waiting an hour, I had worked up a good amount of fear for my short trip back to Scouts Lookout. When I made it back, I burst into tears. I was so unbelievably relieved to have made it back alive. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared. Once I calmed down, the rest of the hike was wonderful.

elkWe finished hiking in the early afternoon and we headed to Springdale and our favorite dining establishment, the Pioneer Lodge. I believe we ate all our meals at the Pioneer Lodge. After refueling, we fed some elk at a domesticated elk farm. They were so sweet and they have big tongues. I felt like a little kid, I was so happy to be feeding them. (The whole trip I had been dying to see an elk.) I even got to pet their noses. We also did a little souvenir shopping. After that we went back to our hotel where we relaxed and packed for our trip home. We had been hoping to do a short hike on Saturday morning, but couldn’t fit it in. As it was, we had to leave by 8am for the three hour drive back to Vegas. We caught our flight home and vacation was over. (Sadness.)

More pictures can be viewed at our gallery. Overall, it was a fantastic trip. I did things I had never done, I pushed myself physically and mentally, and I addressed some fears (though I can’t say I conquered them). I saw really beautiful things and I made great memories with my husband and friend. In looking back at the whole trip, the only things that I could have improved upon were to have had more time and to have stayed in Springdale. This was a really great vacation.

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A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

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