Saturday, August 23, 2014

Zion: Observation Point trail

We almost didn't do this trail.  It's a long one, 6 hours return, and is a very steady climb of 4 miles (each way).  However, when I was reading up on the Angel's Landing trail that we decided to chicken out of completing, I read stuff on the internet that the Observation Point trail was actually better, without being so dangerous and extreme.

So, off we went on the morning of March 20.  It was a little after 9 am, and Zion Canyon was mostly still in shadow as we started climbing.

There's the trail segment that we just climbed - our trail is the one with the big wide switchbacks, the one that goes off of it with shorter switchbacks is another trail that goes to scary spots where you have to hold onto chains or fall off the cliff, and we're just not keen on the genuinely deadly stuff.

The trail levelled off at this canyon that we passed through to get to the next segment of the climb:

I love these canyons that have smooth walls from when they fill with water after rains:

Once through the canyon, the landscape opened up again, and we moseyed and climbed around the base of the mountain to start returning back towards Observation Point.  At this point here the trail is shared with a longer backpacking route:

This would be around 2 hours into the hike, starting to get some dramatic canyon views again:

See that drop-off on the left below?  A lot of the trail follows the edge of the cliff like that, right to the edge of the trail.  It's not the sort of trail where you have to hang on for dear life, but you don't want to slip and fall in the wrong direction, either, or over you'd go.  This is actually at a fairly non-scary part of the trail.

Here, this photo of Ed's shows the drop off better - and a lot of this trail follows cliff edges like this:

We're at the top of the mountain now, it levels out and is like this:

End of the trail!  Gorgeous view.  Angels landing, the trail we didn't do, is that small slender dark piece of rock at the lower centre of the photo (with the river behind it), so this trail climbs a lot higher than that one:

Aren't the rocks that make up these mountains gorgeous?

We saw this before on the way up, but it's better lit on the way down in the afternoon light:

And one more photo of Zion Canyon lit up in the afternoon - that is Angel's Landing in the middle ground, surrounded by the bend in the river.

And that, finally, is the last of my Zion Canyon photos.  I'll be visiting Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase / Escalante National Monument in September, so if I am not too lazy there may be some more trip photos coming this way in a little over a month.

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