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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In Order To Explore The Back-A-Beyond Behind East Temple You Must Trust Your Guides, Intuition, And Shoes

The more you dream the farther you go...

There are three gobsmack gems in the main corridor of Zion that are "must dos," in spite of standing-room-only shuttle bus rides, madding yackety-yak crowds marching side-by-side up serpentine trails, and, of course, only well-peopled photo ops: Exploring the depths of Hidden Canyon, tiptoeing up the shear edge to Angel's Landing, and wading The Narrows to Wall Street.  If you want to stand a chance of experiencing these places by yourself, you must either get up early (like before dawn and shuttle bus runs) or just go farther.

Outside the the main corridor, just east of the tunnel, is another "should-do," even though it's trampled with tourists. This short trail will land you on a precipitous point that overlooks the switchbacked highway up to the tunnel and colorful sandstone walls that surround West Temple's majesty. We thought it worthy enough to join throngs of tourists and show hiking pals, Chris and Juliet.   

The first time Bobbie and I hiked this trail we were disappointed by its brevity. After getting an eye-fill of distance, drop, and view we gazed up at the shrine-like block named East Temple. Hmmm, wonder if we can get up there? 

The climb to the East Temple is a litmus test for borderline acrophobes. At times if feels like one slip and you might just tumble into the shadowy abyss a thousand feet below. However, this hike resides at the top of our all-time favorite list for Zion. It has a little bit of everything Zion has to offer. 

Bobbie holds up the overhang so we can pass safely...on the way to the overlook.

I'd been mulling over whether or not to suggest it to Chris and Juliet. Once we had our fill of the overlook, I pointed up and said, "You should lay hands on the East Temple while you're here. It's a sacred place and the views on the other side are without equal." 

"I'm down," says Juliet. And Chris? He's always "down" for new dots. 

An OMG view of West Temple from the overlook

East Temple, from the overlook...piece of cake, right?

It's a steep slog, I warned as we prepared to launch, But I think you'll agree it's worth the effort. 

Bobbie mentions that she'd read that it was possible to do a loop-hike, and come back out on the highway within a half mile of where we parked. So had Chris. Uh Oh. 

But we've been up to East Temple multiple times and never once have we seen any possible way down into the Hellish rough country that awaits on the other side of Heaven.

Let's just shoot for the Temple today, I say. We want Juliet to come back, don't we?

The views west just get better and better as we ascend the slant to East Temple

45 minutes in, quads and achilles burning, we still have a long way to go

There are places that feel as if a slip could send you tumbling into the canyon below
About the time the "falling" thought crops up, we hear a loud clang...clang clang. While Juliet was creeping up a steep section on "all fours," her thermos of water slipped out of her pack pocket and tumbled down. Already on the edge, this set her off...a palpable demonstration of what might happen if she misstepped. Needless to say, there was a pause, to reconsider our East Temple goal. 

I thought we should turn back and offered to do so. We're up here to have fun. I don't want you to do anything you don't feel comfortable with. Then Bobbie and I leave Chris and Juliet to have a little father/daughter talk.

Sometimes I'm not the best route chooser. Bobbie gets stuck...can't go up/can't go down. So I climb down and throw her a rope. This does not instill confidence in Juliet...

Break time...it's freaking hot on the sandstone, and no shade for cover

Chris and Juliet...on the move again. Apparently the "talk" worked

45 degrees doesn't feel steep...unless there is a dark canyon below, waiting to swallow you up

Progress. Juliet sets her jaw. She's quite flushed and really needs to get out of the sun, but there is no shade in Hell

Finally, we reach the saddle below East Temple. The view is staggering...just amazing. 

After lunch, I set about looking for a way down into that mess, in case we want to try to make a loop. I know...I'm pushing it, but can't help myself. Besides, Juliet is not exactly thrilled with the idea of going back down what we just came up.


Yeah, that's where we need to go in order to make the loop. It's getting late and so I have second thoughts. 

Meanwhile, back at the saddle, lunch and discussions ensue about doing "the loop."

Maybe we can get down this way....NOT!!

Its still a steep push to lay hands on the Temple. We leave that for next time...when we have more time, and energy, and steadier legs. But Juliet is "down" for the loop. Yes!

So here we go...walking the saddle, looking for a way down so we can make a loop

That's rough country...You could get lost in there

Another saddle...nope, too steep. Or is it?
Another view of East Temple

Father daughter talk worked...Juliet loves her adventurous dad :)
East Temple panorama. Gawd Almighty, I love my life!!!

Where there's a "Chris," there's a way. 

The guy is incorrigible. We follow Chris like sheeple to the slaughter. Some how we make it down...a slope I'm not sure we can come back up. We are committed, now.

If we can only find the way to Pine Canyon...our escape hatch out of this amazing maze.

Stay tuned, Conclusion is next...
Peace out,
Mark Bobbie Chris and Juliet 


  1. Why are there no other HIKERS in these pictures? Is there Cell service out there? Sweet Jesus I've bit off more than I can handle watching the four of you heading into another National Park statistics of Hikers that didn't come back from their hike. :) (thank God there's that "stay tuned for the Conslusion)

    ..nobodies watching the Impeachment hearings in this house


    1. Exactly my thoughts!! This is a time for a SPOT unit! Satellite tracker to SOS station just in case. Huge relief at the "stay tuned" comment!

    2. Ha! After we leaving the tunnel overlook and headed up to the East Temple not one single hiker on the whole loop. To still find solitude in such a popular Park is a challenge we take seriously :). Thanks Doug and Al

    3. Terri...I'm going to breakdown and get a SPOT soon. We talk about it more and more

  2. Funny, my brain works just like Juliet's. Let's make a loop so we don't have to go down the way we came up, although in reality the unknown route could even be worse. Now that's a hike I'm glad I missed!

    1. Yes, my mantra is to never go up something you can't get down...and vice versa. Yet the pull of the unknown is hard to resist. I think about you on all our "sketchy" hikes..."Gayle could do this!" :) Raining hard here at our boondock...guess we are stuck here till it dries out (sigh)

    2. I was just thinking about you guys when I got up and went out on our covered balcony to watch the rain. It's days like this I am very happy to no longer be living in an RV:-) Looks like you have a cold Thanksgiving week in store. Stay warm and dry!

    3. Knowing the rain was coming we went out and hiked 12 miles on the Chinle Trail...all the way to Secret Slot and Layer Cake Mountain and beyond. Today is cinnamon roll day!

  3. Some of those pictures made my heart fall into my stomach. The drop off is very intimidating! Glad I have your pictures to look at instead!

    1. Yeah...standing on the edge still gets my adrenaline going. Glad you finally got your crops in...I can imagine your muddy equipment. Tell Chris it's time to sell the farm and travel :)

  4. You did our trek justice, sans making me sound like tooo much of a scaredy cat ;) had to save some of these pics to add to my archive!

    1. Your comment is a relief, you're alive :)

    2. Juliet, And here I was trying to make you sound brave. I didn't even mention the tears :)
      Miss you! Come back!
      mark and bobbie

  5. This hike must have attained epic status, it's getting the cliffhanger second post treatment! The scenery was just spectacular up there, but photos never quite do justice to how steep the terrain is. Hope you guys are able to stay out of the mud today :)

    1. Yeah...too many photos :). Which one to kill...
      It is going to be muddy for sure, but I think we have a few more rocks here than down where you were camped...which is now vacated :)
      We'll see as it's laundry day...with a stop for cinnamon rolls at the cliffside coffee shop :).
      Happy Thanksgiving, Chris!!!


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