Zion National Park, Utah – Limited hiking

Instead of one long hike we decide to do some shorter trips due to the wintery conditions. Together with Jaye we start at the Emerald Pools Trail that leads to some waterfalls and greenish pools. But we don’t get too far. The path is blocked at the first waterfall due to rockfall and we have to turn round after one kilometre. We are even less lucky at the short (1/2 mile) but steep Weeping Rock Trail. It is so icy that we can’t walk even a metre without crampons. Weeping Rock got its name from water seeping through the rock, and dripping out after 900 years as scientists detected. The Riverside Walk is icy as well, but mainly even, so we can at least take this 2-miles-hike. If the river doesn’t hold too much water it’s possible to follow it for a while before the steep faces move up closer, and it is not possible to go further without getting wet.

One of the strongest floods of the past years let the waters of peaceful Virgin River rise; it caused devasting damages not only in the park. The road damages are repaired for the most part; the hiking trails aren’t completely redone yet. The still high water level of Virgin River, fed by plenty of snow from an unusually cold winter, spoils another hike that’s typical for Zion: the Zion Narrows. But this hike isn’t recommended during the winter at all. We would have to walk from the end of Riverside Walk beside or sometimes in the river to a site where the 600 m high sandstone walls move to few metres together. Even in summer a dry suit is highly recommended (dry suit, boots, and walking stick around 45 $ pp, to rent in Springdale). It is necessary to keep ones balance on river stones in flowing water. The ten miles / 15 km hike takes six to eight hours. We meet a young man who just returns from the hike. The water is partially shoulder-high, he reports, but it is possible to swim through as well. The high rental fees together with two wet backpacks, difficult to dry in the camper, and the risk of wet cameras keep us from doing the hike.

We learn more about the park and its outdoor adventures from Catrin and Jonathan. The young Swiss-American couple has invited us for dinner. They are co-owners of the largest outdoor company in Springdale. They offer all kinds of canyon, climbing, or other trips, and rent equipment as well. They organize off-road trips with their two small Unimogs as well.

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