Utah--Zion National Park

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, May 29, 2009

DAYS 39 and 41--We spent two days in the majesty that is Zion National Park--Sunday, May 24 and Tuesday, May 26, with a day trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim in between. The weather was perfect both days, clear skies and cool. The ride from Kanab on the Mt. Carmel Highway is breathtaking with soaring cliffs and multicolored rocks. The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway enters the park from the east. It's a 10-mile, steep drive up switchbacks and through a mile-long dark narrow tunnel built in the 1920's. Sunday we got to the park early to get one of the very limited parking spaces near the Visitor Center to avoid riding multiple shuttle buses to get into the park. The park was extremely crowded, but following our plan, we rode a shuttle to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava (named for the coyote-spirit of the Paiute Indians), planning to work our way backwards to the Visitor Center. We set out on the two-mile RT, paved Riverside Walk along the Virgin River, where we watched some type of a squirrel munching on grass, oblivious to the throngs of people nearby. The river water level was high, flowing over rocks with muddy water due to the recent rains. Other trails were Weeping Rock, a half-mile trail leading behind a curtain of water showering from the ceiling of an alcove. Water percolates through the sandstone until it hits shale, and then sweeps through to the surface 1,000-4,000 years later. Lunch was at The Grottos, followed by the trail to Lower Emerald Pool, where we encountered a rattlesnake crawling in the woods 3-4' off the path. He was quite the "photo op" for the countless hikers. Zion is the most impressive park we have seen. Looking up at the multi-colored layers of the cliffs and the majestic peaks of the Court of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moroni) had much more impact than looking down into the Grand Canyon, particularly on the South Rim.

Wanting to spend more time in Zion, we came back on Tuesday to attempt Angel's Landing Trail. This trail is famous. Linda first heard about it while in Panama. This steep, 5-mile, strenuous trail climbs Walter's Wiggles past Scout Lookout, with a spectacular view of Zion Canyon. It is not for anyone fearful of heights. It involves scaling a knife-edge trail holding on to chains with long drop-offs from the sheer cliffs. We prepared well and were very proud we made it almost to the top before stopping at what we named "Chicken Point". From there on, you have to walk across a 4' wide ledge with 1500' drop-offs on each side and then scale the summit, holding the chains. The crowds made the "terror" unbearable because real estate along the chain was limited and prized. The pictures can only suggest the challenge; we were proud we got within 1/8 mile of the summit   . . .  maybe in our next lives.

Before leaving Kanab, UT, we toured the world famous Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a nation-wide organization promoting rescue, adoption, spay/neuter and education programs. This is a huge no-kill shelter where homesless and abused animals (cats, dogs, birds, horses, burros, pot-bellied pigs) can live in clean, comfortable surroundings until adopted or they die. The Michael Vick dogs were brought here for rehab. It is a first-class operation with beautiful surroundings in pink Angel Canyon. They had 7,000 volunteers last year and 20,000 visitors, and we heard it receives $40 million in donations a year. National Geographic has made two DVDs about the Sanctuary. Fascinating!
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