November 18-24, 201
Blast from the Past
We started the week enjoying lunch and a hike with a former coworker of mine. Sheila was one of the first people I worked with when I started my professional career 25 years ago. She was one of the kindest people I had ever met and I always enjoyed working with her. She moved away roughly 15 years ago, but I kept up on her whereabouts through my mom’s neighbor. Seeing her again at a St. George bakery, we fell into easy conversation as she asked questions about our travels and we asked her about living in such an amazing area.
Our hike for the afternoon was a local favorite of Sheila’s, the Shinob Kibe Trail. This trail climbs 0.75 steep and rocky miles to the top of a mesa providing commanding 360 degree views of Washington, St. George, Red Cliffs NCA, and off toward Zion National Park. The mesa has a rich Native history that includes use as a Paiute defensive position, burial grounds, and medicine wheel location. The mesa top is also home to one of several concrete navigation arrows installed by the FAA in the 1930’s to assist mail flights from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.
Transformed by Rain
One hundred and fifty five days—that is how long the Zion area had been without a drop of rain. The record for continuous days without rain had been shattered in nearby St. George. While we had been enjoying sunny, warm days in Zion, even we embraced the rain when it finally came.
We spent a late November day in head to toe rain gear exploring the Zion Canyon with local friend Yvonne. Yvonne knows the best places to see the waterfalls that appear on rainy days. We met at the visitor center and caught the shuttle bus into the main canyon.
Our first stop was the Temple of Sinawava where we strolled along Riverside Walk up the Virgin River. We then walked down the road to Menu Falls and back. By then, enough rain had fallen that waterfalls were coming off the cliff walls in every direction. An added bonus was seeing two California condor above Sinawava as we were shooting the falls!
Next we caught the shuttle back to the Grotto stop and caught the Kayenta Trail to Upper and Middle Emerald Pools. We had done this hike back in 2013 during our first visit to Zion. The hike was nice, but the pools were mostly dry and didn’t seem like anything special. Now, after heavy rains, it was spectacular. There was a massive waterfall coming off the cliffs into the upper pool and a couple smaller falls flowing between the middle and lower pools.
While we prefer sunny day hikes, it was a special experience watching Zion’s transformation on a rainy day.
After the Rain: Zion’s East Side
After the big rains passed, we headed out to Zion’s east side to explore some unofficial trails. First up was Lower Pine Creek Waterfall. This was a nice one mile round-trip hike just off the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway not far up from Canyon Junction. The small falls were nice and the towering cliffs around us were beautifully shrouded in clouds.
Next up was Many Pools, an unofficial trail to the east of the Zion tunnels. We did this hike back in 2013 and thought it would be neat after the big rains when water collects in deep depressions in the rocks. We saw two bighorns on the drive there and two more groups on the hike in. There were quite a few lambs from this year, which was great to see. We didn’t have much sun for our hike, but the pools were all full of water from the rains making this a beautiful hike up the slickrock canyon.
We finished the day with a short hike, again along unofficial trail, to Hidden Arch near Checkerboard Mesa. The route followed up a muddy wash to some beautiful rocks with, you guessed it, a hidden arch. The arch blends in well and you likely won’t see it until you are viewing it from the side.
Red Rock & Snow
Rains at lower elevations meant snow in the surrounding mountains. We took one day to hike from the Kolob Terrace Road down into Hop Valley and the Zion Wilderness. The upper stretches of trail were frozen solid and snow on the distant peaks contrast beautifully with red rocks in the foreground. In the lower elevations, conditions warmed up as the trail followed lovely Hop Valley with sandstone rocks rising around us on all sides.
The Adventure Continues
Thanks for visiting us this week. Stay tuned next week as we enter the holiday season.