Thursday, July 2, 2015

Observation Point, Zion National Park

This was both mine and Hal's first time to Zion National Park and we were really excited to see what it was all about. We camped on free BML land about 10 minutes outside the park. There are established camping areas and many of them have fire pits already.
I woke up to this beautiful site on my 28th birthday. Meagan and Charles had decorated the whole campsite, including their car for my birthday. We were slow packing up this morning, but we finally made it into Zion and the visitor center to see if they had any permits to hike the Subway. Unfortunately they didn't so we settled on hiking Observation Point, because why do Angel's Landing when you can do the highest hiking tail in the park, and look down on Angel's Landing?
We started off about noon, which was really really dumb. We started out a 6 hour hike, which has full sun most of the way at the hottest part of the day. Dumb move on our part. Especially because the hike starts out like the below. Switchback after switchback after switchback. Bleh.
I really didn't know if I could make it up these switchback. I could do one full switchback before I had to stop and catch my breath. It didn't help that we were gaining elevation fast, and it was real real hot outside. Finally I stopped and sat down and we all ate lunch earlier than planned. And I felt about 8,000 times better and was able to make it to the top of this first set of switchbacks, to the amazing view below. The cactus flowers at the top were so beautiful.
The trail then turned and went around the back of the mountain, and the hike started another set of switchbacks up the back side of the mountain. Luckily portions of this were in the shade so we could get short breaks from the heat. Every time we would come around a corner from the back of the mountain we were greeted with stunning views.
Then finally the hike turned around to the front side of the mountain again, in the final set of switchbacks to the last ascent. This was in full sun and we felt like we were so close, so this part felt so miserable.
We finally made it up to where the rock relented to red sand, and the end of the switchbacks. From here it was mostly flat, and we could see straight across where we were going.
FINALLY we made it to the top. The view was absolutely stunning. We could see so far down the valley. We could see Angels Landing from above. There weren't any people hiking it...since well, it was the hottest part of the day and not everyone was silly like us. We had the top to ourselves for a few minutes which was really cool.
On the way back we went to the other side of the plateau and the look down was kind of terrifying. I definitely felt all 6,500+ feet we were up in the air.
The hike back down I'm sad to say wasn't as easy as the return often is. The very steep ascent became a very steep descent, which was rough on knees. Good thing I had just read this article, which saved my toes from being hurt.
We were planning on hitting up Hidden Canyon on our way back, but none of us had any water left, and we were a bit spent from the 6 hours we had spent hiking to the top and back, but it's probably doable if you start earlier in the day, and plan a little better than we did. This was a pretty magnificent way to spend my day turning 28.

1 comment:

Krysten Quiles said...

That looks like so much fun!

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