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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chinle/Scoggins/Coalpits Loop Hike… Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color

This is what we have to show for a sun splashed 11 mile hike through Zion's Wilderness… 

The hike was preceded by a day of rain/snow and a blast of cold, hence long pants on everyone but me. In spite of cooler and stormier weather this year, they are mostly one day squalls and we manage to get group hikes every other day or so. 

Sunshine makes all the difference when hiking. We start out with goose bumps, but an hour later everyone's peeling off layers and wishing they'd worn shorts :)   

Chinle Trail starts from a parking lot below Anasazi Hills, a  spacious subdivided collection of upscale southwestern style homes that borders the National Park Boundary between Rockville and Springdale. The trail routes us a mile or so up a wash, between homes with views to die for, eventually passing through a gate. A small sign reads, "Zion Wilderness." 

A puff of white clouds clings to red cliffs… Mother Earth, content, exhaling after pulling a stormy "all night-er."   

The grade is kind. Legs give thanks for a day off from murderous calf-stretching, toe-jammig trails. Snow dusts our mountain view, a little "icing" on the "cake." We step over fossilized logs… mammoth in girth, so unlike existing scrub brush Pinion/Juniper. It's obvious, the land we tread was once far from being desert, supporting such massive trees… 

We finally reach Scoggins Wash, it's tousled red sheet bed smoothed by previous day's runoff. This is our exit ramp to Coalpits Wash and Suzanne's Tracker, dropped earlier as a ride to close the five mile gap to Chinle's Trail Head. 

Bobbie leads on, skipping the exit ramp for now, and continues hiking. Eventually we enter in a seemingly mundane and nameless wash. We follow, tracking fresh "red sheets" with new footprints.

Chris announces that he wants to find some bones. Bones? Less than a minute later, he picks up what looks like a fossilized leg bone. We examine it closely, it's distinct center where soft marrow once produced red blood cells.  A small dinosaur? Who knows… but very cool. 

Criss finds a fossilized bone!

This nameless wash suddenly becomes interesting. Its walls, pocked by erosion, sprout questions… mostly, "How in the Hell did this happen?" Suzanne points to lines of pebbles that string unnaturally throughout sandstone banks, frozen in perfect alignment. The bank resembles ice cream that's been left out in the sun too long… the pebbles, layers of candy or chocolate chips.  

Bobbie leads but Chris and Suzanne straggle behind, noting and appreciating each nuance of color… the geological freak show of fossils and erosion and time. 

The wash plays out in a lost basin. We are alone; have been since we left the car. It is deathly quiet, the view doesn't compute… "What the fuckkkkk?"

We scramble around like kids, Chris looking for fossils, Suzanne pointing out rocks that balance on monopods, me inching up what looks like an ice-cream layer cake in the process of dissolving in the sun. Somewhere, deep inside the dusty and disordered files of my mind, I'm reminded of a Donna Summer song. As others will attest, this happens often… too often. Lips struggle to form lyrics that come hit and miss… 

MacArthur's Park is melting in the rain (?)

All the sweet, green icing flowing down

Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it

'Cause it took so long to bake it

And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh nooooo...

Bobbie reminds us, it is a long hike, there are miles and miles to go before we sleep, obstacles to navigate, sand to slog, pour-offs to jump… Recess is over. Disneyland is closing. Damn, just when we're starting to have fun, back to "work."

Bejeweled Boulder. We want to take it with us… 


  1. i just discovered your webpage in the comments section of rvuse and her canine crew blog. your phots are beautiful and i love the spirituality, poetry, and fun that you have found in your travels. i will read more of your posts from the past as i go along.
    my husband and i have a vintage 1955 rainbow travel trailer and next year we will be making some longer diistance trips throughout the west. right now we make little trips to the coast and into the Cascades.
    30+ years ago we travelled the southwest for 3 months when our daughter was 2. your photos and descriptions have brought back some wonderful memories for me. thanks!

  2. What a perfect hike, wish I was along to enjoy the view.

  3. What a stunning hike! Glad you let us see a little of it. 11 miles is a long way!

  4. Thanks for the write up, sounds like a great hike!

  5. That Bobbie is such a slave driver. I'd probably not made it past the exit route. All those awesome fossils, rocks and colors would slow me way down. Just ask Suzanne.

  6. We really enjoyed hiking in this area:) Another great day on the trail!!


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