We hiked and talked — about the past, the present and the future.
Sometimes we hiked in silence forging the way through what was labeled on a sign: “Entering Zion Wilderness.”
Other times we hiked and prayed silently and just listened to the sounds.
The sounds of the canyon tree frog — a loud, rattling series of short trills that sound like they are coming from inside a tin can, the interaction call of a black-chinned hummingbird and the sounds of our own heavy breathing after an upward climb. We came across wild turkey, herds of deer and rock-climbing lizards.
For the hubby’s birthday, he wanted to head West. Fortunately, he also wanted to bring me along.
I’m not sure how we missed basking in the beauty of Zion National Park in Utah for the past 56 years, but we finally got there. Four days was definitely not enough time to take it all in — but we inhaled as much as we could. The hubby estimates we hiked at least 35-plus miles in 3.5 days — I’m almost sure it was more like 315 miles.
The hubby’s favorite hikes were outside the Zion Canyon perimeter, up into the Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of the park. The drive on Kolob Terrace Road is described as: “This steep, 20-mile scenic drive starts in the town of Virgin and climbs north from the desert washed into the aspen-covered plateaus of the higher elevations of the park and provides access to Lava Point. Not recommended for vehicles pulling trailers.”
We were not pulling a trailer — we were in a rental car, a small one, thankfully — but let me explain what the roads were like. Lets take a nice country two-lane road like State Road 252 in Trafalgar between State Road 135 and U.S. 31 — remove all berms or hints of any guardrails and blast the sides of the earth straight down about 5 miles, on both sides.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the width of roads in a rural setting are from 9 to 12 feet, which does not include shoulders, curbs or on-the-street parking. If I had the guts to get out of the rental car at a safe place where I could actually open my door and get out without plummeting off the cliff into a sheer ravine I would have liked to measure, the road at one curved area. I’m sure the paved road would have measured a mere 15.5 feet in distance from white line to white line with nothing but air after the white paint designating where the roadside ended and death began.
I did find a park guide that duly noted, “Due to snowfall the road is usually closed in November and does not open back up until June.”
Did I happen to mention that it did begin snowing after we began hiking and hours later, on our gravity drive back down, the gate was closed for entrance. Like I said, this was the hubby’s favorite hike — and it was beautiful on the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, where we saw mountain lion paw prints and mountain goat poo (it’s kind of a guy thing).
We also trekked up to Timber Creek Overlook in Kolob on the last day before we headed back home, and finished the second half of the day at Hop Valley Trail — which pleasantly started out as sand-trail through a sage-covered pasture before dropping down into the Hop Valley with views of the Kolob formations.
I don’t know if I had a favorite hike. Maybe the 3.5-mile Watchman Trail, or the 3-mile trek to the Emerald Pools, or perhaps the half-mile walk to Weeping Rock where the hanging gardens of flowers and greenery grow from the thin cracks of the seeping walls. Or our last day early morning 4-mile Riverside Walk to the Temple of Sinewava.
I suppose it was just being with the hubby on his 56th — and coming back home after a refreshing adventure.