Monday, August 25
I’d like to go hiking today, but I’m just not feeling ambitious enough to drive anywhere. Luckily, I live at a national park, and good hiking with amazing views can be found right here with next to no effort.
My first stop is to park at the visitor’s center and walk down to the river. There’s a good temperature difference between where I am at the top of the east side of the park where it’s 76 degrees, and down along the river in the canyon where it’s 88. I take off my sandals and step in, aaaaah, that’s nice.
Just upstream a little bit and across the way I some other folks enjoying the river, and barely visible up that way on the other bank are tents. Huh, I didn’t realize the campgrounds were on the water, I wonder which one this is.
It’s South Campground, the first come, first served one. No showers to be had here, but the river running along the back of the campground is a big plus, there are access points for campers who sites don’t border it themselves. Most of the sites have good shade from cottonwood trees, which I’d almost call a necessity for camping here in the summer as warm as it gets at this lower elevation. The sites opposite the river are the ones I like least, they’re right up against the only road that runs through the park, and I have to think it’d be noisy as much traffic as Zion sees this time of year.
Up in one of the two camp hosting spots is a Casita, and it’s an earlier model like mine that has the A/C unit in the front instead of on top. No one is home, so I can’t further indulge my curiosity about the occupants.
There’s a trail that leads out into the desert starting at the campground called Watchman Trail, it’s 2.7 miles round trip out and back that climbs to the top of a nearby mesa and is said to give views of lower Zion canyon and Springdale. Works for me!
Aside from the heat, I love weather like today. It’s about 50/50 clouds and sun, which gives a neat dappling effect over the peaks, it’s hard to take a bad picture with lighting like this.
The trail climbs nearly 400 feet, winding up along the edge of the eastern side of the canyon to get atop the mesa and giving spectacular views of the western side. The canyon below is laid out in full, it’s easy to pick out the road, the campground, and the buildings that park service employees live in. The one thing that doesn’t turn out well is my picture of Springdale at the top, because it’s looking into the sun. Oh well.
The way back is much easier being all downhill. It sprinkles for a little bit and sunlight hits the rain and makes rays over the West Temple. A small brightly colored snake crosses the trail ahead of me, can anyone identify it? Prickly Pear cactus stand sentinel along the trail, a couple showing purplish buds that could be new growth or flowers. Just another glorious day in the desert.