Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Zion National Park

A few weeks ago, we set off on our very first camping trip planned 100% by the two of us! The week before our trip we really realized how much planning (mostly for food) goes into a week long camping trip. So after much time spent preparing meals, grocery shopping and packing we were off!

Our first stop was Zion National Park. We were amazed as we drove into the canyon and found a campsite. This place is beautiful!! We got there early on Saturday June 18 to make sure that we could get ourselves a campsite. We had no trouble and realized how easy it is setting up camp when there are only two of us.
 This is our campsite. It was so fun using all of the camping stuff we got for our wedding!

The view from our campsite.

Once our tent was up, we were quickly on the shuttle to go further into the canyon. While on the shuttle, there is a recording telling annoucing where you are and giving some facts about the surroundings. Our plan was to just ride for a little while and get off when we felt like it. The recording on the shuttle was explaining there was a stop coming up where we could get off to do a hike called Angel's Landing. It said this was a very strenuous hike and that people were cautioned not to do it if they are afraid of heights. We decided to do it and jumped off the shuttle! This hike consisted of a long paved trail of steep switchbacks until we reached a point called Scouts Lookout. Here we enjoyed a nice lunch surrounded by other hikers and hungry chipmunks.

The rest of the trail ahead of us looked challenging but not too bad. We talked to some people sitting by us and they said it was only about 20 minutes longer. We figured that we had come this far, so we should do it. Plus the view was supposed to be amazing. We started on this climb (not hike) and soon learned it was MUCH longer than 20 minutes and pretty challenging. We were basically just climbing along a cliff to get to the next mountain over. At some parts there were chains to hold onto to keep us from falling off the mountain. It was surprising how many people were on the trail. The problem with this was that it is really only wide enough for one person to barely make it across the ridge without falling, so we had to stop a lot to try and let others by. In the end it was definitely worth it!! It tested our strength but we saw such a beautiful view at the end. The reason it is called Angel's Landing is because a man who was in the park a long time ago said that only angel's would be able to get to the peak.
 Jeff getting a little freaked out.
 This is what we are about to hike...
 Good thing there is a chain?
 Jeff's artistic shot.
 We made it to the top!
 The view facing south.
 The view facing north.
Looking back as we go down in shock that we just climbed that.

Overall, we were so glad we did it. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into since we had barely been in the park for an hour when we took off on the hike. The rest of our trip we heard people talking about how crazy all the people hiking Angel's Landing are. We felt so accomplished for having done it!

After that hike we were so exhausted. We got some water and headed back to camp right away. Unfortunately our campground didn't have any showers, so we took a little dip in the Virgin river to try to clean off. It was pretty cold though so only Jeff went in all the way. We made dinner and went to look at the museum. Outside the museum we could see some really cool peaks called West Temple, Sundial, Altar of Sacrifice, and Beehives. On the other side of the canyon we saw the very impressive Natural Bridge.

 See the natural bridge right there in the middle of this one? It is hard to see.
 Here is a picture of a farmer that lived in the canyon on it. He is crazy!

On Sunday we decided to try some of the much easier hikes in the park so that we could see more of the landmarks. Our first stop was Weeping Rock. A very simple hike compared to the day before, it ended at a really cool rock that drips water all over it's viewers year round.

Next we did the River Walk along the Virgin River. This was a very pretty walk and we enjoyed our lunch sitting next to the river.

Next we went to see the Emerald Pools. We were a little fooled by their name. They were really just swamps, but we still had fun on the hike.

That night after dinner we went to the lodge for a talk given by a ranger. It was about the Civilian Conservation Corps and a man name Belden Lewis' diary. It was so interesting and it was nice to be inside the beautiful lodge.

We camped in Zion until Tuesday morning but on Monday we took a little day trip...

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