Monday, May 28, 2012

A Tale of Two Zions - part one

Roger here....  With such a lofty title, this post deserves an amazing opening photo.  What do you think of "Pocahontas Dianne :-)"?  In Dianne's defense, I was the culprit who staged the photo.  I told her to sit in the circle of light.  I told her to lift her head in order to remove her face from the shadows.  That said, I still think it is a cool, but very cheesy, picture.  (Cheesy is an understatement, don't you think??  -- D.)

There are really four sections to Zion National Park.  The two remote sections are Kolob Canyon to the northwest and Kolob Terrace (in the center, accessible only by a remote road).  We have already posted about both those sections, as well as Zion Canyon (the most celebrated attraction), but we have not yet visited the East (maybe the most beautiful) section.  We will start with another visit to the Zion Canyon area in this post.  In the next post, (coming soon), you will get to see the fun we had in the amazing East section of Zion.

  Before we start.... sometimes the best adventures are those that you do not expect.  The Watchman Trail in Zion Canyon is not the most celebrated trail, but oh, what a surprise it was!  The slickrock in the East section of the park that I'll post about in a day or so turned out to be a true adventure.   Here's Dianne to fill you in on the Watchman Trail....

Dianne here.  Above you will see the photo that I would have used to open the blog.  The beauty of this place never ceases to amaze me.

The Watchman Trail is a short 3-mile round trip trail that starts by the visitor center and leads to a viewpoint on top of the first layer of cliffs (shown above in the foreground), roughly 300 feet above.

As you start down this trail, you might not expect much, as it begins along the river and then heads through a nondescript flat plain until you reach the hills.  We weren't really expecting a spectacular hike from this one, but my first clue was a comment left by a reader on a prior blog entry, stating that the Watchman Trail was one of her favorites.  Hm-m-m, there must be more to this trail than meets the eye!  

Yes, indeed!  The moment we started switch-backing up the cliff face, the views were amazing.

Here is the shot that started the whole "Pocahontas pose" thing.  What we were trying to show was the very cool overhang that we hiked under.  Roger decided I was in the shadows, so the "move over to the light" began.  

I love looking at the layers in the sedimentary rock...

As we continued to climb, we had views of the trail below us leading back down into the canyon...

This next shot shows how the trail switchbacks up and up...

There was a young man hiking behind us.  I stopped to get a drink and noticed him gazing out over the valley.  

I just thought it was such an iconic photo of Zion, that I snapped a quick photo of him.

Along the way we passed by a beautiful blue damsel fly glowing on the red rock.

We also saw a variety of lizards, including this Great Basin collared lizard:

And this smaller lizard with blue shading on its back and tail:

Near the top we stopped to rest and take in the views...

And took a few interesting photos at the summit:

The orange is Roger's drink sling, not his bare chest!
One last look at the beautiful view, then we began our descent...

One bonus of this hike is that it gets much less foot traffic than the more popular crowded hikes in the main canyon.  This might be because the beginning of the trail looks pretty inauspicious, and if you didn't know the route it would take, you might think it would be a boring, flat walk.  We took this trek on a crisp, cool, beautiful day, but if you are here in the heat of the summer, I would suggest starting this hike early in the morning, as it would be quite hot otherwise.

The hike back down was pretty much like the hike up the hill, but here's a shot of Roger walking past a cliff of blooming flowers.  May is certainly a beautiful time to visit Zion!

As we neared the end of the hike, we stopped to chat with a hiker from Britain.  As we stood and talked, two mule deer made their way down the hill and walked right past us, seemingly oblivious to our presence.

I took a short video of the older deer (the mother?) as she walked by us, then switched over to the young deer.  If you've never seen a deer take a whiz before, this video is for you!  You can hear Roger and the British hiker chatting in the background.

The pet photo of the day shows my hummingbird feeder as two voracious black-chinned hummingbirds get a drink.  I have seen as many as 7 hummingbirds, both males and females, jockeying for position at a time.  I am having to re-fill this little feeder three times a day.  Needless to say, Charlie the cat is enjoying all the visitors.   


Nancy and Bill said...

Wonderful Post!! We are taking notes and will spend much more time at Zion next time we get there;o))

Gin and Syl said...

Very nice hike. We hope to do that one day. Love the shot of the other hiker soaking up the scenery.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

A truly amazing place. Great pictures including the cheesy one:)