Well at the last minute Jake decided he wanted to spend his birthday away from the cold and that I should join him on a trip South. I've gotten a hang of this not saying no to trips thing so after we got home from the climbing gym on Thursday we started packing things up for a weekend of camping, climbing, and hiking in Zion National Park. I left early from work on Friday and we were on our way. It was the first long trip my car has taken since being fixed and it worked wonderfully. It was nice to have a CD player too since the one in his car is broken and since I'd made him a few CDs for his birthday it was a good way to enjoy them. Saturday we did climbing. The trams weren't running yet so we drove up and down the loop looking for a nice short easy crack to try out our skills on... well... try out Jake's skills. I have no crack climbing skills unless you count the 6 feet of crack I climbed with Gina at the gym earlier that week. I wouldn't recommend Zion as a place to learn how either. Everything there is so big! We put on our packs...(it'd been awhile since I'd had a heavy pack on my back and it kind of felt good) and found our way to a nice spot with a view of the canyon to the left and weeping rock on our right. I could tell by Jake's very brief explanation of how to clean a route that I probably wasn't going to be needing his instructions that day. I was right. I belayed him for about an hour and a half as he set the route... I got some good sun... watched families going to weeping rock and pointing at us for their kids... enjoyed the view... took a few pictures (but never let go of the rope of course!) You don't mind just standing around doing that when you have such a nice view.What a great way to spend a birthday weekend! (Today's my dad's birthday... I bet he wishes he could spend it in Zion too but you'll have to retire first.) I'm glad Jake invited me along.
I watched Jake climb with all the gear and decided I'm not too interested in someday leading a trad climb. I don't know if I could carry all that weight up behind me.
It was heavy enough just carrying half of it up there in my backpack. I did attempt the climb myself and though I fell a lot and sat on the rope quite a bit I made it up about half way. I surprised myself even by how far I got and how satisfying it was. At least I got to leave all the gear at the bottom. Afterwards we went over to weeping rock where I took this picture which I think is my favorite from the whole trip. It looks better when you see it bigger than a little blog picture. We then spent the evening going around watching all the climbers on the big walls with the binoculars. Other than that the highlight of the day was seeing a California Condor. The idea of extinction really kills me so to see one of those birds out in the wild after knowing they were down to just 5 was really awesome to me. I could hardly believe it at first. We also saw some wild turkeys. Sadly this was the only shot I got of our amazing birding experiences that day... a turkey's butt. The next day was Jake's birthday... ...after pancakes with cookie bits stirred in we packed up for a hike. He wanted to do two... (In my head I said yeah right but said ok anyway) We hiked up the trail head at Weeping Rock and took a detour about a mile up Hidden Canyon. We knew it'd still have snow at the top so we turned back when we came to a spot where we knew it'd be hard to come back down. It reminded me just enough of the Orderville hike that it whetted my appetite for coming back to it when the weather gets warmer... Back at the fork in the trail we went along Echo Canyon and all the way up to Observation Point. What a great trail!
There were slot canyon parts, ledges cut out of the cliffs, trails below huge walls, and sandy spots across long flat plateaus, and amazing views around every bend in the trail. There were even a few wildflowers out.There was hardly anyone on the trail and even at the top there were only a couple of Italian ladies to share it with. (How come foreigners use our parks more than we do? What a shame) The view at the top was incredible looking up and down both sides of the canyon and down onto Angel's Landing. The wind had been getting stronger and stronger all day and we were up there enjoying some snacks and the view when we noticed a whole front of gray clouds blowing in behind us. We decided the very top of that cliff wasn't a good place to be... but neither was the flood path halfway down the trail... so I pulled out my trekking poles to help with my aching knees and we were back to the car just as the first drops started to fall and watched as the waterfalls started coming off the top of the canyon walls. We didn't do the second hike up Angel's Landing that day but I don't think nearly 10 miles of Zion hiking is too shabby for one day. (I'm going to leave the story behind this picture out for legal reasons... moving on...)Back at camp the celebration dinner consisted of steaks with potatoes and mushrooms with a little Martinelli's followed by birthday cake. Problem was that the only thing we forgot to bring was utensils. We brought our wooden spoons that Jake made along with one knife but spoons don't work so well for steaks (of for the noodles we had the night before for that matter)
They were delicious T-Bones...
...which we ate with our hands sitting in the dirt.