Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ultimate Utah Vacation: Making it through the clouds at Zion

We woke up the next morning to pouring rain and radar full of green, yellow and red throughout the entire area.

It was 5:30 a.m., and it didn't look like it was going to get better, so our plans to head early to Zion National Park were put on hold and we went back to sleep for a few hours.

By 10 a.m., the radar hadn't cleared and we just weren't sure what to do. Our plans were to go to laundromat at some point and wash our hiking clothes, and we couldn't find one in Brianhead, so we headed into Cedar City to do some laundry and figure out what to do from there.

It was about 1 p.m. when our laundry was done, and the radar was still lit up with color.

"What's the worst that can happen? We wear our ponchos and get rained on? That's not too bad," I said. "If we drive to Zion and can't do anything, we're not out anything anyway."

So we drove an hour, and by the time we arrived the weather had slightly cleared. It was still cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining.

However, due to wet conditions, we were a little concerned about hiking Angel's Landing and its steep trails with sheer dropoffs, so instead we decided on Observation Point.

We had read about this trail, and it was one that Nate wanted to do, and even though it was 2,100 feet up and an 8-mile roundtrip, I thought I was a little more mentally prepared for this trip than we were the day before. Plus, we had our MREs with us this time.

Switchback after switchback after switchback. The trail began with steep climbs and turns, and although I was quickly sweating and breathing hard, what I had read was that this trail started out steep and gradually evened out.

When we reached Echo Canyon, approximately halfway point from what I read, we oggled at the behemoth rock face before us.

The rest of the hike reflected a much more positive similar to the day before. Although I sweated and needed periodic breaks, Nate was sweet about it, and I tried to rest longer and continue longer instead of breaking every switchback.

It was near the top of the cliff that I was puffing and soaked and leaning against the rock face beside me, when Nate looked at me and I smiled.

"You're beautiful," he said.

I laughed gently, knowing that I looked ridiculous, red and just dripping with sweat that I could no longer wipe off because my soaking wet shirt wouldn't absorb anymore.

"You're so sweet."

That is one of those moments that I save up in my heart, because it wasn't just my husband saying something like that but the sincere tone of his voice that meant he actually thought I looked beautiful in that moment --- in sweat, in a T-shirt, in a dirty hat and puffing. That's a moment to absolutely treasure.

At one point, we had climbed high enough to reach the level of the clouds on that slightly dreary day, and the skinny trail was suddenly engulfed. I could see in front of me, but I could no longer see anything to the side --- and my heart entered my throat as I hugged the cliff wall beside me.

"My mom wouldn't like this," Nate said, turning around to look at me.

"I'm not super happy at the moment," I said, keeping my eyes straight ahead on the trail and not looking to sheer dropoff that I knew was in the cloud to my side.

He came back and started walking beside me instead of in front of me, giving me a more comfortable feeling that the trail was a little wider than it appeared to me and that he would keep me safe.

We actually hiked higher and ended up coming out of the cloud and reached the plateau at the top of the hike, following the red sand trail to Observation Point.


Clouds still hung on, showing just how far we had climbed, and we could see the switchbacks from our original trail so far down, so far in the distance. The trees were a deep forest green, the rocks silver and burnt umber. The plateaus continued for what seemed forever in the distance, and the road below wound like a snake through them.

The view was gorgeous. We felt accomplished and were pleased that we hadn't given up on this rainy day and had completed this amazing hike.

We found a little spot to eat our meals and decided to share one MRE to start and open a second if we were hungry enough.

We shared a piece of dehydrated bread with peanut butter while the Chili Mac cooked, and we soon realized we were starving and would need to make the second meal. I ate my "canned" pears while Nate started to cook his "pork rib" and potato soup. We shared his appetizer --- bread with cheese spread --- and then sampled our entrees. Both were quite scrumptious considering we were eating them on the side of a mountain.

We packed away our desserts of a protein cookie and M&Ms, drank our vibrant purple electrolyte powdered drink and headed back down the cliff.

Majestic beauty. A great accomplishment. Sweet compliments. A simple meal.

In short, an absolutely perfect day.

No comments:

Post a Comment