Friday, May 20, 2016

West Rim O&B - Zion National Park - 5/15/16

West Rim Trail along Telephone Canyon

Angel's Landing from West Rim Trail

Cliff View from West Rim

Virgin River lower on Last Day
 After 4 days of hiking in Zion National Park, six hikers were ready to do their 5th hike on the West Rim Trail going out and back to the bottom of the switchbacks just below Cabin Spring. It was better that we didn't realize that the 2000 foot gain was really 2500 feet until the end! And, even though we were tired, we still wanted to enjoy every minute of our time in Zion hiking the beautiful terrain. We took the shuttle on an unusually quiet Sunday morning up to the Grotto Stop and began our familiar climb up the switchbacks to Scouts Lookout, the saddle just below Angel's Landing.

Switchbacks up to Refrigerator Canyon
 We hiked up at our own pace agreeing to meet at the saddle for a group hike up the West Rim.

Leaving Scouts Lookout
 At Scouts Lookout, we turned to the left onto the West Rim Trail and immediately escaped the crowds that were queuing up for their classic Angel's Landing climb.

Sandy Saddle bordered by Cliffs

Climbing from Saddle
 We still had a lot of climbing to do before we would get a little relief. As we gained altitude, our view behind us was of the Angel's Landing fin and 1000 foot cliffs. Although the West Rim Trail offers "edge of the cliff" views, there is plenty of space away from the cliff for "exposure handicapped" hikers to feel safe. The trail was very clear but was also very uneven. It zigzagged up to the top of the sandstone peak offering gorgeous views in every direction.

Interesting Trail Marker
 The top of the peak was bare sandstone. In lieu of cairns, the park service has planted footstep signs to mark the trail. Rozie wondered if that meant we had to walk pigeon toed!

Trail over Bare Sandstone
 There were about 3 or 4 of these signs that led us up and over the bare peak. Then, we began a descent that we knew we would meet again in the other direction.

Crossing a Deep Wash

Beginning the Next Long Climb
There is a bridge over a deep wash at the bottom of the descent and then the fun really began! A long ... long ... long gradual climb began up the stone trail and through a wooded area. The coordinator's memory of the climb was not so relentless! But, the trail's saving grace was that the scenery of Telephone Canyon was distractingly beautiful. Finally, we reached our destination and took an extended break in some shade. Happy.

Trail at Left - Telephone Canyon at Right
 We passed a few hikers on the return down to the bridge. Some of them were through hikers from Lava Point as told by their backpacks.

Still Climbing
 After crossing the bridge, we began the climb back up to the bare peak. We took a very short rest at the end of each switchback which made the whole climb fairly easy.

Our Turnaround Point - Cabin Spring Up a few Switchbacks

West Rim Sandstone
 We hiked over the bare peak passing some yoga enthusiasts and following the footstep signs. The descent back down to Scouts Lookout was even more beautiful than the way up earlier. At the saddle, we signed out of the hike so that the men could move on down the trail at a faster speed. The ladies stayed together until the end. We all enjoyed our excursion in Zion National Park for 2016.

8 miles; 2500 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Returning over Bare Trail

Dropping Back down to Scouts Lookout

1000 Foot Cliff below Us

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