Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah (September 6 and 7)

Zion National Park is only about 45 minutes from St. George so we didn’t rush our morning. Come to think of it, we really didn’t rush many of our mornings at all! :-p

Anyway, we had dinner the previous evening at Chili’s and our server said we should have breakfast at Oscar’s Cafe in Springdale, right outside the gate into Zion National Park. So, we skipped breakfast at the hotel (since it wasn’t complementary) and decided to wait. We got into Springdale around 9:30-10AM and decided to go to Oscar’s first thing.

Let me tell you about Oscar’s Cafe… you need to go there when you are VERY hungry. You will leave stuffed and you will not get hungry for the rest of the day. “Hungry? Don’t Blame Oscar’s.” We had breakfast there three days in a row. It’s that good! Their orange juice is a bona-fide cup of sunshine. They don’t fresh squeeze it at the cafe but it sure tastes like whoever they buy it from does. Best cup of OJ I’ve had in a long time.

Their menu.

Oscar’s Menu

I HIGHLY recommend their Croissant Sandwich – a large croissant with well-scrambled eggs, the perfect amount of cheese, a slice of fresh tomato, and fresh shredded lettuce. My mouth is watering just thinking and remembering it! Oh, and the home fries… cooked to perfection. Altogether, you leave totally satisfied and ready for a full day of hiking. Wanna see?

The view from our first breakfast at Oscar’s

The incredible Croissant sandwich and home fries.  YUM 

Such a lovely outdoor eating area. They do have an indoor seating area as well.  

For this first breakfast at Oscar’s, Dad got their veggie burrito which was humongous… Dad finished almost the whole thing but topped out and had to stop. The next two mornings that we went back, we both got the croissant sandwich and didn’t regret it. 😀 Super delish.

Enough about the food.

After brunch, we had to figure out where we were going to stay. We called a couple of hotels but rates were a little elevated due to being near a national park but also because it was the week of the Labor Day holiday and so were probably a little busier than normal. Then we called a campground; they had a few first-come-first-serve sites available for ˜$30 a night. Bam! We decided to stay two nights at the Zion Canyon Campground & Quality Inn. Very nice campground, the bathroom and shower facilities were very, very well kept and air-conditioned… great place all around. Parked and detached the trailer then prepared to go for a hike up the Narrows; a canyon creek at Zion. Backpack, shoes, water, snacks, and hiking poles… we caught the shuttle into Zion National Park then hopped another shuttle inside the park to get to the trailhead. There’s a path along the river for about a mile and then the trail ends and you put on your water shoes and walk up the creek. The water felt amazing.

Hello Zion!

My Dad. 

Me – pretty sure this is near the Narrows trailhead. 

This is a weeping wall; water that can’t permeate vertically through the rock then flows horizontal out then down the wall providing water for plant growth and the sandstone face. 

View up the creek.  

Enjoying the hike. 

Just another view up the creek. Thankfully I wasn’t without a paddle.  :-p

Every corner you go around, I had to take pictures… it was amazing. 

Boy, wanna strap on my climbing shoes and climb!

Isn’t it so pretty!?  

Thankfully there wasn’t a big risk of flash flooding the day we hiked this.  If the risk was greater, we probably wouldn’t have done it.  

I hiked up the creek in my Jeep shoes… shoes supposedly designed by Jeep or something. They are the highest-tech watershoes I know of. I should have worn socks with those shoes; I ended up with a blister on my left foot pinky toe. Ouch. It felt really good taking off the shoes when we got back to the path. I ended up walking barefoot all the way back to the trailhead where the shuttle stops.

On the shuttle ride back to the visitor’s center, I took sooooo many photos of the beauty of Zion National Park. I can’t include all those photos, but here are some I think are the best.

Shuttle ride through the canyon back to the visitor’s center.  

Views from the shuttle

Those views though!

One of my favorite pictures from Zion.

We went to the main visitor’s center to stamp my national park passport and to see what t-shirts and other gifts they had. Neither Dad nor I were hungry (thanks to Oscar’s) so we decided to just get an ice cream to top us off for the evening.

While I was preparing the camper for the night, our camping neighbors were watching as I pulled out the bikes, and the guitar, and the camping chairs, and a basket of camping supplies, and dad’s clothes bag… Yup, we kept a lot in the trailer. Well, I was almost done when they said “Wow, watching you pull stuff out of that trailer is like watching a magic show! Stuff just keeps coming!” Little did we know that these folks would be some new good friends!

September 7

Guess where we got breakfast? Oscar’s… but I told you that already. We had to fuel up good this morning because we were going to hike Angel’s Landing once we got done with breakfast, back to camp, and ready to go. The person at our campground and the park ranger said that the earlier you hike the trail the better. It gets really hot there. I tried to get up early; I set my alarm and everything… but that didn’t work out. I just dismissed it. We started hiking at 9:45am or about there. That is a long, uphill hike. So many switchbacks.

Angels Landing Trail

The photo above is from about a quarter of the way up looking back at the trail towards the road and the trailhead.

Willy’s Wiggles switchbacks

This part of the trail is called Willy’s Wiggles – there’s something like 27 switchbacks (that # might be the total number of switchbacks on the trail) to get up to the preliminary top of Angels Landing.

Preliminary top of the Angels Landing

From that point, you continue along the narrow trail with a thick chain anchored to the rock in most places to guide you to the real top. It’s quite dangerous actually. You can’t think about it too much. Shear drop offs on either side. At the highest point, trail information indicates that the drop off is 1,000 feet… you don’t mess around up there. Other than that, the trail is really beautiful!

Getting there…

Still getting there…

 

Almost there…

Not quite yet.  

Almost there.  

We made it to the top!!

The view from the top!

A cute and BOLD chipmunk at the top.  

Another view from the top of Angels Landing

On our way back down the trail.

A view coming down the trail.  Sooo amazing.

I’m not sure what else to say about this hike. The pictures speak for themselves mostly. It was incredibly beautiful, strenuous, and hot. We were sweating like crazy as we went back down the trail. The sun was blazing down. We were so happy we started as early as we did. We saw folks making the hike up as we came down… I think around 1:30pm. This hike is not for the faint of heart…

Dad and I were both shot after this hike. We just went back to camp to rest. We did stop at the general store to get some cold drinks.

Back at camp, our campsite neighbors were there. I don’t remember exactly how our conversation that evening got started. But once we started, we just talked and talked for about 3.5 hours. Meeting new people is so good; it really broadens your perspective (pun not really intended). As we talked over the course of those hours, we got a sense of how similar our lives were, experiences we had in common and could relate to. It was surprising how easy the conversation went and how open we were; discussing personal life experiences that they had gone through and then relating them to our own. Our new friends were from Port Angeles, WA, a town we had driven through on our way to Lake Crescent/Fairholme Campground at Olympic National Park. They were trying to decide whether to extend their trip or go straight home. The greater Seattle area they told us was engulfed in smoke due to a wildfire that had broken out after we left.

As we prepared to go to bed, we hugged each other goodbye in case they left before we got up the next morning. They said how it felt like we had known each other for years and looked forward to keeping in touch and hearing Dad’s music!

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