We made an impromptu weekend trip to the Springdale/Zion area for the New Year's holiday. We had a great time doing our usual gamut of outdoor activities: hiking, picnicking, geocaching, and checking out local historical landmarks.
Ava and Zoe taste the waters of Weeping Rock during a hike in Zion National Park.
Lunchtime on the lawn at Zion Lodge.
Ava finds A geocache in Black's Canyon.
I thought the old Springdale Cemetery was so interesting the first time I visited it, I had to take the family back to enjoy it.
It's been several years since I've been back to old Grafton. All of the buildings have been repaired and stabilized--something necessary in order for future generations to enjoy--but it has lost some of its original run-down charm.
The Grafton Cemetery.
We were delighted to learn that Springdale puts on a fireworks show on New Year's Eve. We weren't expecting much, but it turned out to be a great show. Plus, I finally got to try out the "Fireworks" setting on my little point and shoot.
I figured Angel's Landing would be just as good as anywhere else to watch the first sunrise of '12. Although I've hiked the entire West Rim Trail, I had never hiked the spine out to Angel's Landing before.
Parking at The Grotto, I hit the trail when there was just enough light to see without a flashlight. I ran to Scout Landing in good time passing a couple on Walter's Wiggles. To make the hike more interesting, I decided to hike the spine without touching any of the chains or railing. I did slip once, though not physically, just mentally as I forgot my goal for a second and put my hand on one of the rails for a moment.
There was one other guy on top that had come up with lights with a very early start. I should have known others would have had the same idea. We didn't talk much other than a happy New Year! greeting, and we took each others photos.
The first rays of sunlight for 2012 look great from Angel's Landing. As for the deal with my hair? Don't ask.
After snapping a few more photos as the sun began to fall on the tips of the western canyon wall, I headed back down the trail. I again passed the same couple that were now about 1/3 of the way up the spine. The girl was not doing well with the exposure and heights, and the guy was literally telling her where to place every step. They pointed out a huge California Condor roosting in a tree overhead that I had missed during my hasty ascent.
Looking down on The Organ from Angel's Landing.
Looking upcanyon toward the Temple of Sinawava and the Zion Narrows.
Looking down onto "the spine" you must climb to get to Angel's Landing. It's about a 700-foot drop to the left into Refrigerator Canyon and a good 1100-foot drop into Zion Canyon to the right--definitely not for the timid. More than one person has plummeted to their death here (including a woman that was allegedly pushed by their significant other some years ago).
Looking up the spine. Note the vertical posts and chains to help balance.
The legs felt light and limber so I laid off the brakes on the downhill and really flew. I was on track to get back to the hotel room just as Susie and the kids would be waking up.
Then suddenly my perfectly executed plan went awry. As I approached my car in the parking lot, I fished in my pockets for the key. Nothing. I couldn't believe it. My key could have been anywhere up on that trail. No point in going back and looking, it could have easily fallen off a number of cliffs.
Suddenly my 4.5-mile run turned into an 11-mile run as I had no choice but to run all the way back to the hotel in Springdale.
Angel's Landing towers over the Virgin River near The Grotto trailhead.
Lower Zion Canyon from the Pa'rus Trail bridge.
Thankfully, by the time I got back, Susie was dressed and ready to go for her run and she was more than happy to head back to The Grotto with her spare key and retrieve the car. When she got there, she found the car unlocked with the key sitting on the front seat! It turns out someone found the key on the trail and was able to find which car it belonged to and was nice enough to fist of all, not steal it, and then to leave the key with a nice note.
I can only hope my luck continues well into the new year!
Looking west toward The Towers of the Virgin from the Pa'rus Trail.
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