Mountains and Canyons. Day 6: Beyond the Pulpit

(Location: Zion National Park)

Ok. So when I wrote last night that we were going to do a big hike today, I didn’t mean BIG, just moderately so. But…

Got up and made coffee. Browsed the latest news and eventually made it to the shower. No desperate need to rush, because sunset is still after 6pm at the moment so plenty of hike time. Decided to get breakfast at Cafe Soleil on our way to the park. Set off. Came back. Picked up camera (!) and set off again. This time made it into the cafe and ordered our scramble breakfasts and lattes.

After that, we parked at the visitor centre and got the shuttle bus to The Grotto stop. Andrew had suggested that we hike the west rim trail to Scouts Lookout, 2 miles one way, so off we went, stopping very soon to remove all excess clothing (it’s hot!) and stopping frequently for photos. It is still beautiful here. We weren’t in a rush so took our time enjoying the views. It was moderately busy on the trail though.

Eventually we made it through Refrigerator Canyon, up Walter’s Wiggles and to Scouts Lookout. Instead of stopping, I led Andrew a third of a mile further up the west rim trail, to where the views open up. There was a handy tree trunk to sit on. It was instantly quieter, as most people do that hike to go on and up Angel’s Landing.

I suggested that we continue for half a mile or so up to The Pulpit. You don’t actually go to the top but from around the side of it you can see alll around and the views are fantastic, some of my favourites.

Having got there and walked in a bit further, enjoying the scenery, Andrew asked how much further it would be to go to the West Rim Spring…a further 1.7 miles….so, off we went, our day changing from leisurely walk with maybe a short 2 mile stroll later on, to a major backcountry hike!

It was gorgeous and quiet and peaceful, with only a few people on the trail. We could go ages without seeing anyone. The trail wanders across rock shelves, through colourful woods, down and back up, winding up through a side canyon. After a total of 4.5 miles, still with some significant climbing to do, we called it quits and turned around.

The changing angle of the sun meant that I kept taking more photos. The crickets started chirping in the late afternoon warmth and some of the pine trees we passed smelled of warm vanilla. We made steady progress down towards Scouts Lookout, stopping briefly to eat a snack bar. Andrew’s foot started to lose power as we continued, but we just kept going, slowly, until we reached the shuttle stop.

The trail was occasionally concrete, although not particularly maintained; more often it was natural rocks or sand. It was not consistent in gradient or condition, so it made it much harder to get into a rhythm than on the Observation Point Trail.

Back at the visitor centre we decided to drive to Sol’s supermarket for a few groceries, before driving back to the hotel. The sun was just setting on the mountains.

We headed straight out to get pizza…another 1 mile round trip walk! But we had definitely earned it tonight. Then back for showers, a drink and rest!

(Editor’s note: a subsequent check on trail descriptions lists the West Rim Springs hike as a 10 mile, 8 hour strenuous hike…so we did pretty well to do 9 miles in circa 6 hours!).

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