The Pioneer Loop. Day 4: East Side.

23 September 2018.

(Location: Zion National Park)

Unfortunately I awoke just after 6am, although I suppose I still had over 8 hours of sleep having had ‘lights out’ before 9.30pm last night. Eventually (from my perspective) Andrew woke up too and I greeted him with a “Happy Birthday!”.

We had orange juice and Andrew opened his cards and we pondered what to do today.

We were still pondering sometime later, after showers and breakfast at the hotel. At that point, it was cloudy and this was keeping things a bit cooler. We had originally been thinking of hiring bikes and going to Red Canyon, which is a higher elevation (thus cooler) but a 90 minute drive away and we were not exactly fast moving. The clouds made us think that perhaps we should hike today and maybe ride tomorrow. So we put away the cycling clothes that I had dug out, got ourselves into hiking gear, and set off for the East side of the park. This involves climbing the wiggly road towards and through the Zion tunnel, and driving highway 9 through some great scenery.

The queue coming through the tunnel in the other direction was nearly a mile long. I hoped it would be shorter by the time we returned. There is no doubt that Zion is busier at this time of year, and busier this year than last year. The visitor centre car park was also full and on street parking (now charged at $20 a day) also extends through the town. I can only imagine how busy the main canyon must be.

Just before the east entrance station we turned left to the East Rim trailhead. I don’t think I have even noticed the turn before, although it is signed. There were only a few other cars there. It seemed a good place to be, away from the crowds.

The walk is an out and back route and it was immediately very beautiful. Very Zion-esque, with white cliffs, red sandstone and shrubs. Unfortunately, the earlier clouds had broken up and although the air temperature of 78F was ok, the effect of the direct sun (which apparently adds 10-15 degrees on top) was a bit too much for me, especially combined with the uphill walking in sand. I was disappointed because it was pretty, quiet, extremely photogenic and everything a good hike should be…but my body wasn’t cooperating so we turned around after less than a mile. Need to come back in winter…! I definitely want to see more of this hike.

For those who have a few minutes and are interested, a video is up on Vimeo as usual:

East Rim Trail

We returned to the hotel (the queue had significantly reduced at the tunnel, thankfully) and bought sandwiches and iced coffee from Hoodoos supermarket opposite and ate them in the room. We relaxed and spent some time looking at photos, before I had a rest in the air conditioned room, and Andrew sat out on the patio reading his book, enjoying the warmth under his feet. A very leisurely birthday!

I realise that I haven’t yet provided the customary room shot, so here it is…

Room no 3: Quality Inn, Zion Canyon, Springdale, UT.

Early evening and it was time to go for dinner, at Pizza & Noodle of course. However it was still warm out (not really forecast to drop much until 3am…hmmm…), so after dressing up and going outside, there was a change of plan and we ate in again. Not sure yet what tomorrow will bring…stay tuned!

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