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Old 10-02-2010   #61 (permalink)
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So we had two more obstacles to overcome. We had to rappel down another 25 foot ledge. THe interesting part was that we had to climb up a ledge to get to the anchor to attach to.








Charlie giving his best fake "Im not nervous" smile.












Where we just came from, another group behind us...




The last obstacle was a to make our way through a long, very narrow passageway/crack in the rock... It was about one to two feet wide and about 30 -40 feet long. We had to squeeze through very narrow areas, scamper over fallen rocks wedged, climb on to of our packs to get something to land our feet on. This was very interesting as some feared the enclosed space much more than the height and hanging by a rope.











THere is a reason they tell you to tuck your shirt in at the beginning. Desert spa treatment ..the exfoliated belly...





All in all, when we were finished, Gretchen and I wanted more and felt a full day tour was a better option for us. Nate really liked it too. Charlie was a bit nervous, and had enough. He needed lunch, a pool and chilling out. However, he is quite proud that he overcame his nerves, and still talks about the tour.

We went back to our hotel and hung out for the remainder of the afternoon, made dinner in our nice kitchen in our suite. Bottle of wine. Excellent.

However, we really hadn't touched the park yet. So...I pushed the family to hop on the shuttle after dinner and at least ride the park to get the lay of the land. THe boys were not too happy. They were tired and the length of the trip was starting to wear on them. When I told them we were going to do a very short hike to Weeping Rock, they were less pleased.

Once we were on the shuttle, we saw incredible this park is. We stopped at Weeping Rock took a nice short hike, sunset photos.. the boys rallied...just needed to be pushed out the door.






So, in Zion in the early evening, the warm roads are not only travelled by shuttle buses, and bikes, but also by these guys...



Tarantulas just walking along. Boy, was Charlie happy that we took this little venture.


I love that the roads in the park are red to mesh in with the rocks. The color is really nice and it just melds into the landscape so very well....

Time again to chill out and go to sleep, another great adventure set for tomorrow, if the weather holds...... looking at 40% chance of heavy rain.



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Old 10-03-2010   #62 (permalink)
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Lovin' this report!
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Old 10-04-2010   #63 (permalink)
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Lovin' this report!
Thanks, Bonny. Only a bit more to go, but some good stuff left...
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Old 10-07-2010   #64 (permalink)
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So, last full day in Springdale/Zion Natl park. We woke up nice and early and headed right back to Zion Adventure Company to rent some very fashionable foot wear and long sticks.

We were planning on hiking "The Narrows". THis is a part of the Virgin River which runs north and south through the park canyon. You can either do a day hike up river, or do the top down hike which is like 18 miles and requires that you get a permit and camp over night.

Either way, the trick is to do the hike with a good weather forecast. The day before, the weather forecast had called for a 40 percent chance of heavy rain. The problem with hiking the river is that the canyon walls shoot up 1000 feet on each side and there is no place to hide if rains come, even rains many miles away. FLASH FLOODS!!!

We were going to pick up our boot and walking sticks the day before, after returning from our canyoneering trip, but the weather just looked too iffy.

At 8 am, the weather forecast had improved some. We decided to rent the gear, hop the shuttle into the park, take the park shuttle to the very end, talk to the rangers about the conditions and the expected weather and make up our mind. By the time we got off at the shuttle stop the weather looked really pretty good. No ranger was around. So we decided to take the one mile hike to the river entry and watch the weather closely. Zion Adventure even makes you watch a movie about flash floods and the signs to look out for and what to do. Serious stuff. We were told that the beginning part had some high ground that would keep us safe and to simply keep a look out for it along the way. We went on our journey and the trip was amazing. WE kept a vigilant eye for high spots, looked for rain clouds, watched the water color for variations. All was good as can be seen below.



























Not a bad place for lunch........



Orderville Canyon is a side canyon approximately 2 miles upstream from where you enter the river. It is really nice and we had it all to ourselves.











Upon retruning back from the exploration of Orderville Canyon, we continued to head up stream just a bit as Charlie was having a wardrobe malfunction. (Too much time in a wet swimsuit with mesh interior). The portion of the Virgin River just north of Orderville canyon is called "Wall Street" as it is like a street with very high walls right at its edges. It was agoal of ours to get there as Orderville seems to be a common turn around, but we were advised thathte scenery was pretty specatcular in the Wall Street area and beyond. We saw a wee bit of Wall Street and made our way back.





In all, we hiked about seven miles, including the dryland one mile each way to and from the river entry from the shuttle. The boots, neoprene socks and walking stick we rented were really great. In fact, I think they were crucial. My feet were a bit beaten up and wet and soggy. You did not slip off the round wet rocks... plus you didnt have to deal with your own wet shoes for the rest of the trip. It was amazing watching people barefoot it, use open toed sandles like tevas, flipflops etc...

It is a really good idea to go early as the river got CROWDED as we were returning.

Just incredible. I would love to do the top down hike.

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Old 10-07-2010   #65 (permalink)
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Wow, wow, wow and wow again! Great pics.....this looks like the best adventure ever and you all seem like such good sports!
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Old 10-07-2010   #66 (permalink)
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Wow, wow, wow and wow again! Great pics.....this looks like the best adventure ever and you all seem like such good sports!
Thanks. Cant say enough about the family. They really were game for the whole venture!! Zion is the coolest place.... I recommend that everyone go visit there.
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Old 10-08-2010   #67 (permalink)
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That is awesome! Wow. Beautiful.

Thanks for posting those pictures!

I would totally do that!
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Old 10-11-2010   #68 (permalink)
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That is awesome! Wow. Beautiful.

Thanks for posting those pictures!

I would totally do that!

Thanks Riss. Do it on your motorcycle trip!!!
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Old 10-18-2010   #69 (permalink)
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Zion is probably most famous for a hike to Angels Landing. Many people say this might be the best hike in the National Park System. It is a moderate to difficult hike that is really almost a two part hike. The first part is a rise of 1500 feet via several switchbacks up “Walters Wiggles” to Scouts Lookout. Many people stop at Scouts Lookout, which has its own spectacular views, as the remainder of the hike is quite demanding, to say the least.

WE DID NOT DO THE HIKE, BUT I WANTED TO SHOW YOU WHAT AWAITS YOU IN ZION !!!!

Walters Wiggles








As can be seen below, the remainder of the hike is an additional 500 foot ascent up a rock outcrop with cliffs dropping over 1000 feet on either side, and is no wider than a sidewalk some of the way, and quite a bit more narrow in a few spots. There is a chain to guide you. Ultimately you come to a small landing high above the canyon floor, almost like an island, with 360 degree views of the canyon from above.

View from Scouts Lookout with the rock wall directly in front showing the narrow ascent to and Angels Landing iteslf:




More pictures up the ascent to Angels Landing.....











I feel you have to be physically fit and responsible to undertake this hike, or at least the second portion. As much as Gretchen and I thought strongly about the idea to push ourselves, we simply knew that it would not be responsible to do teh last portion with our boys. We did not do the hike…..this visit!? Here is a youtube video of the hike. (Dont know how to properly embed the video...sorry).


<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/B0hkc9dIfNU...</param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/B0hkc9dIfNU?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>


With more time, we would have done Walters Wiggles to Scouts Lookout. We had planned to take the hike after doing the Narrows, but that was just too ambitious. Our feet were battered and bruised, we were wet and tired, (Charlie had his wardrobe malfunction). We could not pull it off.


We instead went and hung by the pool, cooked a great meal for dinner and drank some nice red wine that we had picked up at Trader Joe’s in Vegas. Again, an excellent day.....

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Old 10-20-2010   #70 (permalink)
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The next day, our last full day of the trip, we checked out of the incredible Desert Pearl, to head back to Las Vegas overnight, before heading home. We had thought about our desire to hike up to Scout’s lookout, but this would have simply taken too much time and we didn’t want any stress in the remainder of our trip. We were moving slowly, pretty fully satiated from an incredible and action packed family trip. (Like being full and tired after Thanksgiving dinner). However, we had room for “one thin mint”.

When we had gone on our canyoneering tour two days earlier, our guide, Scott, had asked us if we ever had even seen any petroglyphs. When we advised that we had not and were interested, he told us that there was some in Zion National Park, and some more, lesser known drawings in the often unvisited Kolob Terrace section, just across the road from where were. It just so happens that the Kolob Terrace section of Zion is sort of on the way back to Vegas. (10 miles off the main road). Scott thought that the Park Service intentionally kept quite about these drawings. Sounded like a good final adventure before heading back to civilization.


Our directions were to “park on the road directly across from where we were, and follow a trail/create a trail, to the semi circle rock formation” (which he had previously pointed out). “Start at the right side, going behind the rock wall and follow the semi circle until you come to a cave with soot from the fires thousands of years ago. You will see the drawings.” He estimated that they were about 1200 years old. Directions didn’t seem too hard to follow, yet they were kind of vague.


We took the Kolob Terrace Road to where we had been previously on our canyoneering tour and pulled off the road. While we parked where we thought Scott had told us to, we were in the middle of nowhere. We saw the rock formation but no path.






We started to bushwhack through the scrub. We got to the rock formation and came across a fence. I think we were entered Bureau of Land Management land, but am not sure. In any case, the fence was there for a reason. To climb, I think. Don’t tell anyone. We began to make our way around the back. Here is the thing…..lots of places looked like caves. We didn’t know exactly what we were looking for so we stopped at each cave and crevasse.







Along the way, the boys started to lose hope and complain that this was a waste of time. We tried to keep them optimistic, but even began to doubt ourselves a bit. Had we missed it? How far did we need to go? Was it worth it?

To add to the “adventure”, we kept seeing bones scattered here or there, a few quite large and some rather large piles of animal ****. As we are suburbanites from the northeast, we were not well versed in whether this was from some large hungry member of the cat family (remember our mountain lion talk at the Grand Canyon) or grazing cattle (which we didn’t have in eye sight). I admit to thinking about headlines in the paper about a family of four eaten by mountain lion in Zion National Park. Hell, no one even knew we were out there.

After about an hour of hiking in, much longer than we were expecting, we actually came upon a large, dark cave with clear signs of soot on its ceiling. We knew we were at the right place.














We immediately noticed a small area on the cave floor with more bones laying around. Frankly, this was all a bit spooky. Dont know if these are animal bones, old human bones, sacrifice. Dont know if they were a part of a meal or not...









We weren’t sure whether the drawings were deep within the cave or not and began to look around. At first we didn’t see them, but then they smacked us in the face. They were not the most ornate. In fact, they were very simple, and much more simple than those which are commonly known and located in the main section of the park.






If you looka tht eh picture above with Nate in front of the cave, to the left on teh rock wall, you will see the drawings.

What was super cool about this is that our directions were vague at best, we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for, we were off the beaten path, there were no trails or signs showing us in the right direction, we felt we could have been mountain lion lunch at any time, the cave seemed untouched, as though it was exactly as it was 1000 years earlier. We were explorers!!!!

We took our pictures, bravely or stupidly stepped deeper into the black of the cave and checked it out. It was very easy to get a feel for what it was like to live in this cave so long ago, sheltered from the heat and protected from enemies. It was also very easy to get a feel for what a great apartment this would be for the rarely seen Utah mountain lion.

I am not saying that this was a mountain lion lair, it just could be a perfect one.....

just saying.......

Cat paw print in the sand right outside of the cave....



We then made our way back out to our car, and headed to Las Vegas for our last overnight. I thought it would be fun for the boys to get some last pool time in and that we could explore the strip.

Last edited by flyingpig11; 10-20-2010 at 12:38 PM..
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Old 10-21-2010   #71 (permalink)
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A bit scraped up, a bit excited, a bit overheated, we made our way back to our car for the two + hour journey back to Las Vegas.

We rolled in to the Mirage, parked our car, checked in to our room overlooking the Volcano in the front and got in our suits to go enjoy the swimming pool. Yuck. I had never seen so many people smooshed together in row after row of lounge chairs. The pool was full and the water cloudy. It didn’t matter that it was 100 degrees out, we wanted no part of that scene. After all, we just enjoyed being amongst some amazingly beautiful natural landscapes, clean air, blue skies, and far away horizons. Going from serene and unhurried nature to that vibe didn’t work for us at that time. (I do get what Vegas is all about, and see how it could be lots of fun.)


We went to our room, chilled out, had a bite to eat and wandered down the strip to the Bellagio. The kids wanted to see the water show. Gretchen and I wanted to see the Dale Chihouly (sp?) Glass ceiling in the lobby. That was very cool.



We woke up and flew out the next morning. The moon as we were landing back east.



To recap, this trip was just awesome!!! My family is the best!!! I loved their willingness to try new things and be patient for what I had in store. We did really well together for 12 days. The boys were just great with each other for 95% of the trip, which is like a world record.

I cannot say enough about this beautiful land and hope that and that each of you take some time to experience it yourself with your loved ones. I have personal favorite experiences and locations that I want to re-live and cannot stop thinking about. This trip is all about the land, nature and enjoying the unspoiled outdoors.

Again, if anyone has any questions about the trip, the hotels, restaurants, etc., please just ask. It would be my pleasure to share what I learned. Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.

Choice Bits.....

Snoopy Rock in Sedona...
































and last....my btter side....

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Old 10-21-2010   #72 (permalink)
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Again, I thank you!! What a fabulous trip and an even better report.........loved every minute of it. I can see how Vegas ( one of my favourite adult locales) would seem a bit frenzied and artificial after the beauty of nature that you had experienced! Now.................start plannign next summer's adventure!!
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Old 10-22-2010   #73 (permalink)
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WOW --- AWESOME report & AMAZING pics --- thanks so much for posting !!! You look like you have a great family & have a lot of fun together !!

We just had our 1st trip to Vegas a few months ago (not our choice -- met friends for their vow renewal). As a fellow NY-er, I also really appreciated the gorgeous vistas (outside of the strip, of course) out west -- so very different from ours here in the Northeast (& so very not-green -- I couldn't wait to get home & see some green lawns & trees !!).

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Old 10-22-2010   #74 (permalink)
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Again, I thank you!! What a fabulous trip and an even better report.........loved every minute of it. I can see how Vegas ( one of my favourite adult locales) would seem a bit frenzied and artificial after the beauty of nature that you had experienced! Now.................start plannign next summer's adventure!!
Glad you enjoyed the report.

I think next summer is going to closer to home, probably a week in either:

1. the beaches on Cape Cod (Wellfleet)
2. the Adirondack Mountains
3. or the lakes of Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario...

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Old 10-24-2010   #75 (permalink)
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What a great adventure. I am sorry to see it end.
This will be a trip that you all will remember as being the "best ever"...and all other family trips will be compared to it...

Thank you and your family for letting us be part of it.
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